Work is underway on the development of a new £10 million, low carbon primary school in the village of Frenchay, near Bristol.

The redevelopment of Frenchay Church of England Primary School is part of South Gloucestershire Council’s largest ever investment into schools. Following a competitive process, BAM Construction has been appointed to deliver the scheme under the Southern Construction Framework (SCF).

The current school will be replaced with a two storey, two-form entry school located on the grounds of the former Frenchay Hospital. The expanded, relocated school will eventually accommodate up to 420 primary-age children, addressing the requirement for additional school places following the development of almost 500 new homes in the area.

The new school building has been designed to achieve low-carbon Passivhaus standards with plans that incorporate various eco efficient features including triple glazing, solar panels, highly insulated thermal fabric and heat recovery units. Classrooms will be situated on both floors of the new building, with additional learning areas for first floor classrooms looking out over neighbouring woodland. Groundworks have been completed and construction work is already underway with a planned opening for September 2022.

BAM created the UK’s first Passivhaus primary school in Exeter, and the first assessment of embodied and operational carbon at a primary school, at King Ina School in Taunton, which was completed a few months ago.

Tim Chell, BAM Construction Western’s regional director, covering South West England and South Wales, commented: ‘This award cements BAM’s long-standing relationship with South Gloucestershire Council and draws on our wide-ranging experience of delivering progressive, sustainable facilities in the education sector.

‘This scheme underlines our forward-thinking approach to delivering ultra-sustainable education projects. We are using digital modelling and 4D planning to deliver a progressive, net zero design solution that will give the pupils and staff of Frenchay Primary School an enhanced and sustainable learning environment now and for generations to come.’

Creating social value at local level is a key priority for BAM and the project team working on the Frenchay Primary School scheme is joining forces with local community group, the Frenchay Residents’ Association, to renovate a damaged nearby pond and picnic area. The renovation work will include tidying up surrounding overgrowth and the removal of plants to a temporary holding pond as the new pond is relined. The team will also use a 360 excavator and dumper truck to carry out heavy earthworks including the break-up and removal of a concrete surround so that the pond can be reshaped.

Cabinet Member for Education, Skills & Employment, Cllr Erica Williams, Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources Cllr Ben Burton and local councillors recently visited the site to view the progress of the development.

Cllr Williams commented: ‘It’s excellent to see the construction of the new school building for Frenchay Primary School well underway. We have been planning this project for some time and I am delighted to see the building take shape. Our number one priority is to give every young person in South Gloucestershire the best start in life and this significant investment will provide local children with an improved learning environment in which they can achieve their full potential.’

Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources Cllr Ben Burton said: ‘It’s great to see our plans for a bigger and more environmentally-conscious primary school in Frenchay come to fruition. The work on site is progressing very quickly, with the developer already making significant ground in a short space of time. The new building has been designed to Passivhaus standards, which will not only make the school one of the most energy efficient in South Gloucestershire, but also supports our Climate Emergency goals. This is a multimillion-pound investment demonstrating our commitment to deliver important infrastructure for local families in the Frenchay area.’

Katherine Marks, Headteacher at Frenchay CofE Primary School, said: ‘Every member of our community is very excited about the move to the new school building. It will offer us so much space to extend our curriculum and learning opportunities. The children will have the chance to learn about the Passivhaus standard as part of their global topics each year. This will provide not only first-hand experiences but also unique opportunities.’