St John Henry Newman School

Client DfE/Roman Catholic Diocese of Lancaster

Sector Schools and Colleges

Location North West

Value £14m

St John Henry Newman School on the outskirts of Carlisle is the long-awaited home for the local Catholic Secondary School. The previous building had been flooded during Storm Desmond in 2015, and a new home was required for the 600 pupils, who had been housed in temporary accommodation since then.

Due to the urgent need, the project required an experienced, innovative contractor, with a track record in producing high-quality school buildings at speed. Galliford Try was appointed to the job under the Department of Education (DfE) Framework, and completed the job 10% ahead of the DfE budget and on time, despite the much-changed environment following the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

The building was planned using Galliford Try’s Optimum Schools principles to create an efficient grid system that incorporates standardised modules. This allowed for efficient internal space planning and fit-out, minimising waste during construction to provide true value for money. The learning spaces are based on two separate two- and three-storey blocks serviced by a central spine.

The new school site was also renowned for its overland flooding risk and during initial works, several historic Victorian-era drains that were previously undocumented were uncovered. The solution that Galliford Try created and installed at the site not only solved the risk for the new building, but also for the local community, and dealt with the possibility of environmental pollution from the existing silt particles.

As a result, the solution adopted has also been taken forward by Cumbria Council as a case study and exemplar for use in future schemes.

The school also continues to provide a lasting legacy for the wider Galliford Try group, which is undertaking a research and development exercise to re-engineer the school as a zero-carbon building, testing how the next generation of schools will be built to the highest possible environmental standards.

Galliford Try's willingness to take the lead to ensure issues were overcome in a timely manner enabled the project to move forward at pace and this approach has been welcomed by the client team. James Douglas Project Director, Department for Education