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Better Learning

Research issued: 10/09/2019

Bedford Borough Council and Scape Group have worked closely together since 2012 to address the growing need for school places across the borough, culminating in the conversion of the borough’s education system from three to two-tiers.

‘Better learning’ is our new report that details the success of this ongoing collaboration and the results we have achieved together. The document also showcases the journey, the scale of the programme, case studies and the fantastic outcomes achieved through adopting modern methods of construction.

The Bedford story;

Between 2011 – 2017, the population of Bedford borough grew by 7.9%*, creating an unprecedented demand for schools, housing and community facilities. At this time, Bedford borough’s school estate was littered with temporary and inadequate classrooms and so they turned to Scape to help address this situation. Working closely with Scape, Bedford were able to work with an experienced team who are experts in public buildings and specialists in educational design. The teams worked with project planners to identify which schools were at most in need of new classrooms and provide appropriate solutions that, not only met each school’s brief, but also allocated budget. This collaboration enabled savings of £35m based on projected costs.

As a result of the involvement ­­­­­in the extensive temporary classroom replacement programme, Scape was selected to undertake feasibility studies at 40 schools across the borough in 2015. The teams were tasked to determine each lower, middle and upper school’s requirements to convert to either a primary or secondary school. From this, they were directly appointed to lead the design for each of the projects that arose for the three to two-tier conversion programme.

Big challenges demand bold, robust responses. That’s what our Scape Bedford programme has delivered to meet the challenge of a growing population, new and growing communities and rising numbers of schoolchildren overall.

Mayor Dave Hodgson, Bedford Borough Council

After five years of hard work with school education at the heart of the agenda, Bedford Borough Council can now celebrate an expansive school building programme that has ensured the borough’s local schools can serve their communities through accessible, superior and engaging teaching and learning environments, inspiring to both pupils and staff.

The collaborative approach has resulted in 343 new or refurbished classrooms, accommodating more than 9,200 pupils and increasing the percentage of primary school pupils being allocated their first-choice school from 92.3% in 2014 to 95.7% in 2018**.

In addition to this, as ambassadors for social value, with the support of our framework delivery partners Kier and Willmott Dixon, the whole programme (2011 to date) was able to achieve:

  • 97% SME engagement
  • 99% Waste diverted from landfill
  • 9.4/10 client satisfaction: service


Additionally, two of the key school build projects, Wixams Academy and Wixams Tree Primary School, were part-funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. These projects also created:

  • 233 apprenticeship weeks
  • 194 student site visits
  • 100% waste diverted from landfill

Through our ongoing relationship with Bedford Borough Council, we have enabled a positive change for the whole of Bedford which demonstrates the fantastic outcomes that can be achieved through true collaboration. Bedford Borough Council are now able to provide current and future residents with the certainty of an outstanding education for their children for many years to come.

Mark Robinson, Chief Executive, Scape Group

*Source: Office of National Statistics and 2011 Census

** Source: Department for Education, Statistics: School Applications