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Orchard SEN School

We want to continue to deliver quality education to the children in facilities that meet their needs, and the new school will be just that.”

Margot Tyers | Head Teacher | Newark Orchard School


Orchard School for children with special educational needs (SEN) is set across two sites in Newark: Appleton Gate and London Road. This split makes life harder for the children, families and staff, and neither building is meeting their current needs.

Nottinghamshire County Council's £16.5 million project will bring the children together in one building with 140 pupil places and new facilities including a hydrotherapy pool. The project will also provide a new day service building for adults with special needs.

They’ve appointed Arc Partnership to design and project manage this exciting scheme.

Working with construction partners Willmott Dixon and GF Tomlinson, Arc are handling every aspect of the project. As the site is complex, with existing buildings where new ones will eventually be built, they’ve begun by splitting the work into phases.

Phase one is already complete. It saw the refurbishment of a nearby former care home to create a temporary facility for the day service users whilst the current building was demolished. The next phase will be the creation of the new school and, once the children have moved, demolishing the remaining buildings.

Designing the new site meant understanding where the previous buildings had fallen short. So, Arc began by talking to the school and day service to find out what they needed, including special facilities and accessibility requirements and working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to get their support for our designs.

The new design will see Arc create a new SEN school, featuring a series of connected cubes, separated by colourful glazed entrances. The use of colour will engage the children and help them find their way. Meanwhile, the day service building will have a homely, welcoming feel. Both have been designed to sit comfortably within the local surroundings.

Arc are using the natural stream that divides the site to create a distinct area for each building, but creating a similar look across both by using the same palette of materials. Inside, high-quality facilities will include open-plan and quieter areas, sensory suites, bespoke hygiene suites and bright, engaging spaces.

As some of the site falls within a flood zone, their architects have worked closely with the Environment Agency to mitigate flood risk.

With the day services already relocated and the design phase well underway, Arc are on track for the project’s planned completion date of spring 2020.

The buildings have been designed specifically around the needs of the children and adults who’ll use them, as well as their staff and families. The project will be the realisation of the school and Council’s shared vision for a modern facility that improves education – and lives.

The local community have been involved throughout the design process, with drop-in sessions and opportunities to give feedback. The response has been unanimously positive, with real support for the project.

Through close collaboration and consultation, Arc have designed a site that will deliver our clients’ and users vision and provide much needed facilities.

The £16.5 million Orchard SEN School and Newark Day Services are on schedule to open in spring 2020. They’ll welcome 140 children – with the capacity to expand to 170 in the future – as well as adults with diverse special needs.

Strong relationships have been built between everyone involved in the project and it's exciting to see the huge benefits it will bring to its users and the local community.

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