Innovative additional needs school, Cleeve Meadow, completes

8 July 2020

Galliford Try has completed work on the new Cleeve Meadow School in Sidcup, which will provide highly-specialised education for pupils who have moderate learning difficulties (MLD) and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

The new school, designed by Pozzoni Architecture, will accommodate 120 students aged between 11 and 19, and will cater for pupils with additional needs such as speech and communication difficulties, autism and sensory impairments. Currently these children may be attending schools which are inappropriate for their needs or that involve greater travel distances.

The new school is co-located with Cleeve Park School. Students with MLD and ASD will particularly benefit from this relationship with the mainstream school, as they will have the opportunity to attend lessons there, while pupils from Cleeve Park will also have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges facing SEN pupils by sharing their learning environment.

Cleeve Meadow School was designed using best practice from Pozzoni Architecture’s ‘Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: School Design Guidance’ document, which sets out a variety of design principles to offer safe, flexible and calming environments for children with ASD.

The new learning spaces have been carefully designed by Pozzoni to minimise any anxiety pupils may feel, with safe breakout areas to help them remain calm; including the internal courtyard. A life skills room for Sixth Form use is intended to help with the school’s ethos of removing barriers for SEN students. In addition to the teaching areas, the development includes a therapeutic hub, an open plan library, a specialist music department, a performing arts centre and a full-sized artificial football pitch.

The £12m school has been built within the grounds of local secondary school Cleeve Park, which will share the performance and sports facilities.

The successful hand over of the school builds on Galliford Try’s delivery of Vanguard School in Lambeth, South West London, which was also designed by Pozzoni. The new secondary and sixth-form free school for the National Autistic Society (NAS) opened in January and is tailored specifically to children and young people who are on the autism spectrum and wish to go on to further education or employment.

Galliford Try, in collaboration with Pozzoni Architecture, will be presenting some of the learning from these projects as part of the Inclusive Learning Environments Show in March 2021.

Claire Jackson, Education Director for Galliford Try, commented: "Our business has an excellent track record in providing schools across the UK and a growing portfolio of Special Educational Needs Schools. We are delighted to hand over the new Cleeve Meadow School which will create much-needed school places for students with extra needs.”

Jenni Tyler-Maher, Executive Head Teacher of Cleeve Meadow, said: “Our vision for Cleeve Meadow students being fully integrated into our school community has come to fruition. The opening of this amazing building will inspire the next generation of Cleeve Meadow and Cleeve Park learners to achieve their potential and shine.

Ms Juliet Morris, Head of School, said “We are so delighted to be moving into this amazing building which has exceeded our expectations. The build will facilitate the development of a first class education for an ambitious and promising set of students and has provided an inspiring start for all.

Catherine Mulley, Director at Pozzoni Architecture, said: “Our latest SEN school with Galliford Try has been designed to provide the best possible experience of education for both children and staff, in an environment that is comfortable, safe and calming. We look forward to seeing local children enjoying their new surroundings and moving purposefully towards a future of their own choosing.”