Work to commence on new Discovery Academy in Sheffield

Work is set to begin on the new Discovery Academy in Sheffield, designed by HLM Architects working with construction specialists Tilbury Douglas Construction.

The free special academy will cater for 80 special education needs (SEN) pupils and is being delivered via the Department for Education Framework on behalf of Sheffield City Council.

The site is located in the south east of the city centre, on the grounds of a former special school. The new two-storey facility will be a simple linear block, comprising primary and office accommodation on the ground floor, with secondary provision and further office accommodation at first floor. The hall and dining accommodation, which includes a ‘quiet’ dining area, will be shared by all years and is located close to associated service space and external breakout and sitting areas.

Primary classrooms will be located on the ground floor to enable direct access to the dedicated outside social space. Internally, the primary school is separated from the secondary school through the use of a secure, pass door adjacent to the main entrance. At the heart of the school sits the library, hall and dining where primary, secondary and entrance routes converge.

During the design process, HLM Architects engaged with the school, academy sponsors, planning authority and local community through a series of structured workshops and held a public exhibition to integrate feedback before the submission of planning.

The design of the school is based on sustainability principles. This has included optimising daylight and natural ventilation within teaching spaces to promote a passive, sustainable approach. The site is being developed to enhance its ecological value, retaining mature landscape features, and incorporating sustainable drainage measures such as porous macadam and rainwater attenuation. Wherever possible sustainable or recycled materials have been specified without affecting the schemes durability, such as recycled plastic benches. The school is expected to open in February 2022.

John Gittins, Divisional Director at Tilbury Douglas Construction, said: “We are delighted to be working with HLM Architects to deliver the new Discovery Academy project for the Department for Education. Tilbury Douglas’ appointment to this project is real testament to the expertise within our team and our excellent track record in delivering some of the best education facilities in the UK.”

Nexus MAT Chief Executive Warren Carratt said: “We are beyond excited to be working with the DfE, Sheffield council, HLM and Tilbury Douglas to build or new special academy. We are passionate about bring greater choice and quality of offer to families in Sheffield, and Discovery Academy will make a huge difference to the local SEND landscape. We have been actively engaged with the design process throughout, and the school has been planned with needs of our specific learners in mind”.

AJ Taylor, Associate at HLM Architects, said: “The design of this school has been driven by the creation of a high-quality, personalised provision for pupils with autism-spectrum conditions with related social, emotional and mental health needs, as well as a range of other learning difficulties which will result in a safe and nurturing learning environment.”

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