An inner-city school with a difference

Bailey Partnership

Stewart Fleming Primary School 

Inner-city primary school Stewart Fleming has recently had to expand to accommodate a 50% increase in pupil numbers.  We provided exciting, creative & innovative solutions to maximise its constrained Greater London site, providing pupils engaging education spaces, both inside and out.

The former single storey 2 form entry primary school which is part of Pioneer Academy Trust, is located on a very constrained site in Bromley, South East London. To serve the increasing demand from the local community the school needed to expand from accommodating 420 pupils to 630. With no alternative sites within the local area able to house a bigger school or facilitate a temporary school during construction, a unique approach was required to provide a workable solution and maximise the existing site. 

With such a constrained site, the Trust was focused on providing as much sporting opportunity as possible for its pupils and this became a pivotal approach in our designs. We produced a feasibility study to help guide design decisions and enabled us to really think outside the box.

Working closely with the school we developed a logical layout, which utilises every inch of space for the benefit of the children. It quickly became apparent the school needed to expand upwards, making use of the previously dead space on the roofs of its buildings. Our Architects and Interior Design team worked closely with our Building Services Engineers to produce innovative and optimised spaces which provided both functionality and stimulating aesthetics to support both the children and the staff. 

The Early Years classroom block was the first phase to be redeveloped. The tired old modular classrooms taking up valuable playground space were demolished to make way for a new bespoke teaching block with reception classes that opened up to a creative natural outdoor play environment sheltered by the oversailing roof structure. To overcome the loss of hard play area, an artificial pitch was installed on the roof and surrounded by coloured Trespa cladding disguising the activities from local residents and helping to reduce noise levels. Three Year 1 classrooms were opened up into a single space to operate as a temporary dining hall and kitchen to enable Phase 2 to commence and were returned as classrooms once Phase 2 concluded. 

The demolition of the existing hall, kitchen, toilets and basement boiler room heralded the commencement of Phase 2 and a significant construction project in a very constrained part of the site with limited access and a live school environment. 

Overcoming these challenges, a new 2 storey extension was created in its place running the entire length of the school incorporating classrooms, staff facilities, school kitchen and a bigger and more efficient boiler room, as well as providing two 180m2 sports halls to maximise those sporting opportunities.

Its roof space was enhanced by creating usable outdoor areas for the children including a play deck complete with a 4 lane 60m running track. As some of the existing traditional playgrounds had to be used for the new classrooms and sports halls, it was important the extensions’ own roof space gave back valuable outdoor areas. Together with the addition of the rooftop multi-use games area (MUGA), these helped replace all lost external space and greatly improved the school’s outdoor sporting facilities. The integrated landscape design and rooftop decks improves every square metre of outside space, securing almost the same ratio of external space per child despite the 50% increase in pupils.

An EPC A rating was targeted, improving the school’s previous F rating with a 35% carbon reduction over minimum standard building regulations. Increased levels of insulation, underfloor heating, new high-efficiency boilers, low energy LED lighting, water-saving toilets and taps and photovoltaic panels provide significant sustainability gains. 

The subsequent internal alterations and refurbishments to the existing buildings were conducted during the summer holidays to bring them in line with the new buildings high-quality finish.

This exciting and innovative expansion provides creative solutions to maximise space, offering pupils incredibly inspiring education spaces, both inside and out.  

Throughout the six-year redevelopment project at Stewart Fleming Primary School,  I found Bailey Partnership highly professional; they listened to our needs and have delivered a truly exceptional solution,  using innovative creativity and really thinking outside of the box. The project had many difficult moments, but the Bailey Partnership team always understood the needs of the school and were always a professional friend, ensuring the highest quality provision was delivered for our children. 

The staff, parents and children all love how the school has grown and the facilities it now has, whilst still being able to retain the small school feel that makes it such a wonderful part of the community.” – Lee Mason-Ellis, CEO, Pioneer Academy