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Saunders speak at ISBA Conference

26-05-2022

We have high expectations for our schools. They are environments where children learn, play, socialise, and relax. A place where children begin to understand who they are and how to interact with adults and each other. Consider the school as a mini-city and, just like any city, the setting will influence the behaviour of its occupants. Schools with positive, inspiring and, healthy buildings and grounds can boost learning ability, reduce bullying and support wellbeing.

Annabel Lait, Associate Director, and Saunders’ education specialist, has over 20 years’ experience in the sector, with projects including nurseries, prep schools, private and state secondary schools, and further education establishments.

She was recently asked to speak at the Independent Schools Bursars Association (ISBA) Conference about how to make the best of a school’s premises. This was a progression from her address last year, regarding the merits of Masterplanning, and the need for a coherent phased approach to development.

The desire to improve our children’s educational setting is paramount after their extended periods of isolation during the pandemic. However, due to the rapid rise in inflation, funds are often tight and development budgets need to stretch as far as possible. This calls for low impact, sustainable and affordable solutions.

The importance of efficient and coherent development of a school site.

Experience has shown that it is imperative to establish a logical and efficient proposal when undertaking a masterplanning exercise for a whole school site. For instance, it might be that the simple rearranging of uses within existing buildings can provide more space and introduce efficiencies so that any problems can be solved rather than requiring the construction of a new building.

A strategic masterplan offers the opportunity for a range of design solutions - the development of an arrival sequence where first impressions are key; environmental improvements to daylighting, natural ventilation and acoustics; spatial efficiencies to help with capacity issues; landscaping and biodiversity improvements to the wider grounds; changes to vehicular access to reduce car use on the site; ideas for improving the appearance of built form through refurbishment or aesthetic enhancement; and maximising the flexibility of space to improve use and longevity.

Annabel’s recent talk explored all of these themes in detail by using case studies to describe how she and her design team work collaboratively with a school, guiding them through the briefing, design and construction stages to ensure that aspirations are achieved.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve your educational facility’s premises, the value of a masterplan, and the raft of funding that this can unlock, please contact Annabel directly to discuss your ideas.

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