Free Schools: Designing Better Spaces for Learning

Schools play such an important role in society, with their environment affecting performance, self-esteem, friendships and ultimately shaping us into the adults we become.

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Here at Cassidy + Ashton, we believe that every child deserves a place at a good school, yet budget pressures and increasing pupil numbers has meant that this is becoming harder to achieve.

Our extensive work with the Education Funding Agency and its contractor framework partners on the Free Schools programme has made significant steps towards this, delivering numerous purpose-designed refurbs, extensions and new builds to increase pupil intake in some of the areas hardest hit by shortages of school places.

Better value, however, doesn’t mean building schools cheaply, but designing cost-effective environments that deliver educational needs, enhance teacher and pupil wellbeing and reduce maintenance and future running costs. A report by RIBA estimates that up to £150m annually is being spent on unnecessary services and maintenance in schools that could be avoided with better design.

We’ve a proud of our track record of delivering great school buildings and are currently working on a number of Free Schools across the North of England; North Cestrian School, Hunsley Primary School and Royal School Wolverhampton, with a key focus by our architectural, building surveying and town planning teams moving forward.

Limited school budgets also means there’s a growing need for architects, builders and other parts of the supply chain to deliver more school improvements for less. Creative design solutions can mean the difference between an adequate building and a great one and this is a major USP that we offer our delivery partners when bidding for EFA-funded projects. Each project comes with its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, with our great design team helping to deliver the best outcomes and value.

With close to a million extra pupils expected to enter the English school system over the next decade, we understand what is needed to ensure new accommodation remains sustainable and deliverable. Our managing director, Philip Gornall is currently working on secondment with the Department for Education and Educating Funding Agency on its Free School programme, delivering technical advice on procurement and general construction policies. This specialist insight offers a key advantage during the bidding process, ensuring what we deliver matches exact specifications and needs.

For more information on Cassidy + Ashton and our EFA work, contact Peter Harris today on 01772 258356 or

  • Royal Institute of British Architects - RIBA
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors - RICS
  • Royal Town Planning Institute - RTPI
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Thank you

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