The Importance of Taking a Fresh Look at SEN School Design

Every new-build school is an opportunity to take a fresh look at what we mean by good design. It’s a chance to cast aside preconceptions and design an environment around the real needs of the learning community. This is essential with new schools for SEND learners.

There are many new special needs schools in the pipeline. This means there’s an opportunity to achieve transformational change in the educational provision for many young people.

SEND schools often do an amazing job of making the best of facilities that were never designed with the specific needs of their learners in mind. In some cases facilities have been repurposed. In others they were built in a different age, when there were far more design and construction constraints.

Construction has moved on. Digital design and offsite manufacturing create a more unified process with far greater design freedom. The inherent characteristics of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) lend themselves perfectly to the requirements of learning environments for SEND students.

What Makes a Building Suitable for SEND Learners?

The most important requirements for SEND learners are flexibility of use, minimising distractions and providing structured learning spaces. Natural lighting and ventilation also improve the learning environment. Panelised offsite methods offer designers significant benefits, freedoms and opportunities, including:

  • Structural capacity to support wall and roof hung equipment.
  • Flexibility of layout for improved access and movement space.
  • Clear spans for future adaptability.
  • Optimised thermal comfort for health and wellbeing.
  • Enhanced acoustics for reduced disturbance.
  • Robustness against accidental damage.

Environmental sustainability must also be considered. Timber-based structures made from SIPs have important advantages including low embodied carbon, excellent thermal efficiency and low waste.

Imaginative Solutions

The integrated design and manufacturing process means there is less need to ‘play it safe’ or to make compromises. Imaginative solutions can be explored for issues such as maximising the use of natural light. And there’s complete confidence that the structure will be replicated exactly as imagined by the designers.

Panelised offsite methods bring greater flexibility and control. As a result of these benefits, Innovaré has an extensive track record of delivering outstanding building programmes for SEND schools.