Watling Academy – Western Expansion Area

Giving generations of young people the ‘very best start’

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Project Overview

Client Milton Keynes Council
Value £34m
Expertise Building
Sector Education
Timeline February 2019 - Spring 2021
Location England - South and Midlands
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Project summary

Situated in the “heart” of the Western Expansion Area (WEA) of Milton Keynes, Watling Academy is the largest secondary school to be built in the Buckinghamshire town. Funding for the £34m development was provided by Milton Keynes Council in order to meet “substantial demographic growth” arising from the continued expansion of the WEA. Scheduled for completion in Spring 2021, the new purpose-built, 1,800 capacity school will consist of a large three-storey super block with separate sports facilities including playing fields, and expansive car/cycle parking. When it opens its doors to pupils aged 11 to 16 next year, the modern facility will provide “generations of young people with the very best start in their academic journey”.

The detail

Watling Academy, which sits on an area of 10.88 hectares, will bring the “highest quality education and support” to 1,800 students. Equally, the “highest quality” design and construction processes are being implemented to make it a reality.

Beginning in February 2019, the £34m development incorporates a broad range of student facilities including laboratories, studios, general teaching spaces and a main hall with retractable seating. A suite of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, notably a sports hall designed to Sport England requirements, are further significant features. The “super block” is a rectangular shape with a structural frame that consists of steelwork and SFS infills. Metal decking has been applied to the upper floors. The elevation treatments incorporate facing brick and glazed bays, while the main entrance and the stair core areas are fully glazed.

Internal services fit-out and compartmentation are also part of our programme, as well as associated external works and landscaping. In order to meet the bespoke demands of the school, we hosted a range of consultative workshops involving teaching staff, end users and designers to ensure individual classrooms were kitted out appropriately with the right mix of interactive whiteboards, overhead projectors and specialist equipment.

“I am grateful for the hard work and flexibility of Milton Keynes Council and those at GRAHAM to maintain the momentum with the main build over the last few months.”

Ian Bacon, Watling Academy Head of School.