Laleham Gap

Laleham Gap SEN School is one of thirteen schools in Kent to be rebuilt through the first phase of the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP). Designed by Ellis Williams Architects and built by Wates Construction, the new build SEN school was constructed using the Wates ADAPT design. This is a standardised school solution which uses simple, robust materials and principles, along with an integrated building services solution to create high quality, light and airy classrooms suitable for modern teaching. The standardisation of the layouts, design components and materials reduce the build time and cost of delivery, whilst still allowing for flexibility and variety in the school design. The development comprises a two storey school building with classrooms, two halls, a staff room and administration facilities, and a three storey residential block with 36 residential rooms for staff and pupils. A car park, MUGA area and playing fields were also constructed. Client: Education Funding Agency (EFA). Main Contractor: Wates Construction / Wates Group. Architect: Ellis Williams Architects (EWA). Structural Engineer: BWB Consulting. Services Engineer: CMD. Client PQS: Gleeds. Other parties: Stanta, Dax Brickwork, GSE Group, Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP), Department for Education (DfE).

This project included primary, secondary and residential provision for 168 pupils aged 3-16 years, of which 30 are residents. Part of the Priority School Building Programme (PSPB); Laleham Gap is a Special Educational Needs School for high-functioning pupils with autism and/or speech and communication difficulties, such as ADHD, medical, emotional and social needs and challenging behaviour.

There is an intentional emphasis on the difference between home and school. The residential area of the school is separate but connected with the primary and secondary provision. The residential accommodation is divided into three units/houses with flexibility to change around depending on the pupils needs.

The landscape proposals have been refined through engagement meetings to ensure that the school’s needs and aspirations have been sufficiently met. Through this process, a series of educational, inspiring and ecologically rich spaces have been created to play, learn, and socialise, whilst encouraging community involvement where appropriate.

The internal layouts were prepared through close client cooperation in regular engagement meetings. The corridors, doorways and circulation spaces are wide enough to accommodate SEN pupils and wheel chairs. The pupils are very sensitive to noise, light, smell, touch. The final design is functional, allowing end users to navigate through the building intuitively and to operate the school efficiently on a day-to-day basis.