AN ESSEX school that has been a decade in the making will open its doors to pupils and staff last month (September) following a multi-million pound improvement programme overseen by leading independent management, design and construction consultancy Pick Everard.

Market Field School at Elmstead Market near Colchester had been nicknamed ‘shed city’ due to its nine makeshift classrooms and head teacher, Gary Smith, has led a 10-year campaign to modernise the school, which caters for children with special needs, as its buildings struggled to keep up with rising pupil numbers.

Originally built to accommodate 70 children but numbers have since increased to more than 180, resulting in the use of a number of temporary classrooms – something that will be a thing of the past following an £8.5m rebuild.

Pick Everard provided project management and quantity surveying services on the project. Paul Darlow, director at the firm, said:  “The facilities at Market Field School had become outdated and the school had simply outgrown them as pupil numbers continued to rise, as they have done across the country in recent years.

“They were desperately in need of additional, permanent accommodation and we are thrilled to have been able to help deliver what really has been a labour of love for the head teacher amongst others.

“We have created a brand new, state-of-the-art SEN school which will accommodate those increased pupil numbers within spacious and modern surroundings, ensuring that their environment now matches the excellent teaching provision at the school.”

The new Market Field School has been designed to provide a full provision for specialist SEN learning for children of all ages. New facilities include an SEN therapy room, soft play area and a simulated flat, allowing children to learn skills to become independent. The school also includes a specialist autism unit for up to 60 children.

“Pick Everard has a very strong track record of working within the education sector and has worked on a number of SEN schools in recent years, so we are very familiar with the precise learning requirements of students with special needs,” added Paul.

“The project has been delivered under the SMARTE East framework, which has ensured that the additional pupil places provided by the local authority are cost-effective and delivered within a specific time frame and budget.”