14 September 2010
Work has begun on the first stage of the Tettenhall Learning
Community in Wolverhampton.
The project, the first to begin under the Wolverhampton BSF
programme, comprises the redevelopment of Kings C.E. Secondary
School and the construction of a new Special Educational Needs
(SEN) school – Tettenhall Wood School.
Designed by Capita Symonds, the redeveloped Secondary School,
which will specialise in the visual arts and sports with science,
will cater for 900 students aged 11-18. Faith-based, with an
inclusive Christian ethos, the school will be co-located with
Tettenhall Wood School, a 140-place special school for students
aged 4-18 with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). Though the
schools will essentially operate independently, they will share
some facilities as well as renewable energy provision.
Set into an attractive residential area of to the west of
Wolverhampton, with many areas of mature landscape and excellent
views across attractive countryside to the south, there is much for
the new Learning Community’s design to engage with - in contrast to
the existing building accommodation of The King’s C.E School which
effectively turns it back on the surrounding landscape.
The Secondary School’s design aims to express strongly its
specialisms in visual arts, and sports with science; its Christian
ethos; and its developed commitment to co-location. Each of the
specialisms has a ground floor presence while the main entrance
foyer is conceived as an art gallery and connected directly with
art class spaces which give onto an external covered art terrace
overlooking the ‘green heart’ of the school - a new garden space
embracing an existing copse of trees.
New-build accommodation has been thoughtfully positioned to
create a cohesive and logical school plan -essentially teaching
accommodation has been planned to wrap around two sides of the
‘green heart’. By this arrangement of spaces, each of the four
zones required by the school has a distinct and clear expression.
The creative zone occupies the northern wing of the school
encompassing the hall and sports areas, and addresses both
Tettenhall Wood and the social centre of the school. The practical
zone sits entirely on the ground floor of the retained three storey
teaching wing and the refurbished newer accommodation to the south.
The world zone is located on the first floor of the re-modelled
three-storey teaching wing, with the work zone on the second floor.
Since each of these zones is smaller than the zone below, the
accommodation is pulled back, allowing each zone to have roof
terrace for outdoor classroom spaces.
The existing performance hall is also to be refurbished to
provide a high-quality auditorium with the removal of the stage and
the installation of a series of sliding-folding doors allowing a
wide range of performance configurations to be provided.
The Tettenhall Wood School, meanwhile, features designated
spaces for Speech and Language therapists, educational
psychologists and other professionals necessary to meet the needs
of individual students and their families.
The commitment to co-location is expressed in various ways.
First there is a direct link from one school to the other. From the
main entrance of the Secondary School the heart space can directly
be seen straight in front, with a covered external route between
along a colonnaded walk to the north side of the new ‘green heart’
and under the gallery of the contemplation courtyard. This
courtyard acts as a reflective space between the two schools, for
use by either school or both together with co-location activities.
For example, the Secondary School’s dance/drama space opens onto
the courtyard allowing small scale performances to be undertaken
with the audience sitting in the courtyard or observing from the
Extended and community use has also been facilitated by the design
approach. The layout of the Secondary School allows for convenient
community access to the hall spaces, dining areas, sports
facilities including the swimming pool and the lecture theatre. The
layout of Tettenhall Wood also facilitates convenient community
access to the therapy suite and to the hydrotherapy pool, water
room and sensory integration rooms. The therapy suite can be
accessed without entering the ground floor accommodation of the
school. Public, privileged and private spaces had been sensibly
The design process for the Tettenhall Learning Community
involved extensive consultation with the senior management team of
each school, technical and educational advisors from Wolverhampton
City Council, students, and teachers. These discussions were also
supported by more formal evaluations, including very positive CABE
reviews and DQI sessions.
The Wolverhampton BSF programme is a long-term programme of
investment and change providing £370m of funding to transform
education for secondary age students by providing 21st century
learning environments that engage and inspire young people, their
teachers and the wider community. It incorporates the modernisation
of school buildings, facilities and ICT to support the development
of world class teaching and community provision for every school in
The Wolverhampton LEP, comprising Wolverhampton City Council,
Building Schools for the Future Investments LLP (BSFI) and
Carillion, is delivering the programme. As Carillion’s lead
partner, Capita Symonds is providing full multidisciplinary
services including architecture, M&E, civil and structural
engineering, and landscape architecture.