Adept has helped deliver around £250M of education projects during the past five years. Director and education lead Matthew Ramsden shares his thoughts on our progress in this sector.

Our work covers a wide variety of new build and refurbishment projects for primary and secondary schools, academies, sixth form centres, specialist vocational learning centres in further and higher education, and bespoke facilities for SEMH and complex needs. We have developed excellent working relationships with clients and contractors built on trust and consistent delivery.

“Adept remain one of our preferred structural and civil consultants. Their overall attitude when working with our team and other consultants is exemplary. They have a can-do approach to any problem that the project may throw up, and always produce an efficient cost-effective design solution. They have a forward-thinking team, who are always proposing new technologies for review. Most importantly, the people are a pleasure to work with.” John Owens, Tilbury Douglas

Our early-stage feasibility advice enables estate managers to make informed decisions within a restricted budget. Applying a robust value engineering strategy helps us devise solutions that minimise material use and are simpler to construct. We can review existing proposals by others to improve deliverability, overcome problems, and find innovative ways to increase value for money.

With budgets always exceedingly tight, we work hard to offer an economical and deliverable sub-structure solution. Years of collaborating with ground specialists means we understand how to gain opportunities from it. Some staff previously worked for steel fabricators and their invaluable technical knowledge helps us create a lean design for the superstructure.

We believe in true teamwork and like to operate in a highly collaborative BIM environment. We assign resource with the right technological expertise. Since 2013, our team has been delivering all schemes using BIM, most recently BIM360, to enhance design and communication. Multidisciplinary 3D models help to improve accuracy, increase efficiency, reduce risks, and minimise programme delays.

Meeting programme gateways demanded by the DfE and our contractor partners means planning our resources effectively to anticipate periods of intense working at key stages.

The DfE has implemented its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy to de-carbonise the school estate using stricter standards and specifications that drive down carbon use. We support budget management for this in many ways, such as using embodied carbon life cycle calculation tools to assess materials (IStructE and OneClick LCA plug-in to Revit), evaluating off-site prefabrication options, integrating sustainable drainage, and recycling fill material on site.

We are at construction stage with a flagship biophilic primary school in Derby with Tilbury Douglas and Hawkins\Brown Architects, which will be net zero carbon in operation. The building connects its users with nature and increases biodiversity. The design uses an interlocking, load-bearing structural insulated panel system manufactured off-site, which provides thermal insulation, fire safety, and acoustic benefits.

Extending, re-organising, and refurbishing existing facilities is an essential part of achieving net-zero carbon emission targets. Re-using buildings and site infrastructure is inherently more sustainable and can offer a client better value for money. We are just completing the redevelopment of former bank buildings in Leeds city centre to create Leeds Mathematics School with Morgan Sindall and AHR Architects.

“Adept have shown exemplary team work on the refurbishment of Leeds Mathematics School. This was a structurally unusual building but, rather than seeing this as an issue, the team has jumped to the challenge to get right under the skin of the building. They have an excellent understanding of the structural findings and what this means within the build process.” Ben Gaunt, Morgan Sindall

With new build work, we find that we are designing-in greater flexibility for future structural expansions, proposing durable new structures that will be easier to adapt or extend later. We coordinate carefully with M&E and specialist consultants to address whole life sustainability.

Effective and efficient daylighting, acoustics, heating, and cooling are high priorities for educational facilities. Through close collaboration with the design team, we have quickly learned how to integrate seamless delivery of these services.

With most UK school buildings over 40 years old, another key priority for the DfE is pinpointing existing buildings that are deteriorating and developing defects. As is currently forefront in the news, reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was a commonly used material between the 50s and 90s, but has a limited lifespan and can fail without warning. As part of our school survey inspections, we continue to provide clear advice on dealing with this unpredictable material.

Currently, we are busy with schemes at different stages. Construction is due to begin on the Sheffield SEN2 scheme with Tilbury Douglas and Atkins. We expect to start on site at Barnsley College for another scheme with Morgan Sindall.

Continuing our relationship with Leeds City College, the new Mabgate Campus project with Cartwright Pickard is due to begin construction. We have a client support role for the Leeds City Academy and, following a successful bid, we are underway with Woodlands SEN Academy in Scarborough, working with Galliford Try and SPACE Architects.

The pandemic created unexpected difficulties for many businesses including Adept, so we are incredibly grateful that our workload has remained consistent. It forced us to quickly test new ways of working, which didn’t always work well early on. I am particularly proud of both Trinity Academy with Watson Batty Architects, and St Anne’s school with Race Cottam Architects. The construction of these began right at the start of the stressful 2020 lockdown. Both schemes were challenging to engineer, and the build programmes were tightened-up which added to the pressure. But everyone pulled together to deliver amazing results. The design and delivery teams should look back on these with immense pride.

We have collated a selection of our education schemes.

View our education case studies.

Images: John Kees Photography and Francesco Russo.