Work begins on new £17m secondary school in Middleton, Greater Manchester

Wates Construction has started work on a new £17m secondary school in Middleton, Greater Manchester.

This is the first of six projects to hit site that Wates is undertaking since its appointment to the Department for Educations modern methods of construction (MMC) framework in January 2020.

The Edgar Wood Academy, the new 900 pupil secondary school, designed by Sheppard Robson, will have a three storey teaching block containing 23 general classrooms and 34 specialist classrooms, a sports hall, sports pitches, soft and hard play areas, car parking and drop off areas.

Completion is expected in time for the beginning of the school year in September 2022.

Wates is at the same time, developing temporary accommodation, on a site three miles away at Hopwood Hall College, to house Edgar Woods Academy’s first 120 Year 7 students when they arrive in September 2021.

David Saville, Wates Construction North West regional director, said: “We are using our Prism off-site manufacturing facility, which offers may advantages, including substantially reducing waste on site and lowering the carbon footprint of both our construction activities and the operational use of the buildings. We have been moving forward on this project since August 2020 and have fostered a really strong collaborative relationship with complete integration of all parties involved – the highways department, the local council, the DfE, our own team and Altus, who from the beginning had a very clear idea about how they wanted the building to look”.

“The contract was signed in early May 2021, and we were on site by mid-May 2021, which was only made possible because of the close working relationship we have established. We are also privileged and delighted to have been appointed through a separate tender to provide the temporary accommodation for the first pupils arriving in September and we are making good progress”.

John Milburn, the Department for Education’s project manager, has been impressed by Wates so far. “The approach of Wates Construction’s team during the CEM (customer experience management) process was incredible. Weekly meetings, ad hoc meetings and issuing of plans and minutes were all done for the benefit of the scheme and in a very timely manner. As both the permanent scheme for September 2022 and temporary scheme for September 2021 reach site, we as the DfE have real confidence in Wates’ ability to deliver the schemes. There are some considerable works to undertake and some risks to manage but we are confident we have the right partner for delivery”.

The Edgar Wood Academy will be operated by the Altus Education Partnership (Altus), which is a multi academy trust.

Wates Construction is also close to completion of the 900 pupil Whitehaven Academy secondary school in Cumbria, in time for the start of the new school term in September and has recently handed over two schools in Cheshire, Hartford Church of England School in Northwich and Upton Primary School in Chester.