Lessons learnt in steel
A standardised steel-framed design is helping a school project in the North East
of England to quickly take shape. Martin Cooper reports from Hartlepool.
Part of a nationwide programme, five
new schools are to be constructed
in the North East of England.
The Education and Skills
Funding Agency ESFA has appointed BAM
Construction for this Capital Framework
North East Batch A of priority schools.
Four of the projects are steel-framed
secondary schools, replacing existing and
out-of-date premises. The fifth project, a
primary school, has a modular light steel
The batch consists of two schools in
Hartlepool, and one each in Durham,
Houghton Le Spring, and Whickham,
The first of the two Hartlepool projects
to get started is the English Martyrs School,
located on the western fringes of the town.
BAM Construction started on this site
during April this year and is scheduled to
complete the project in May 2020.
As well as building the new school, BAM
will also demolish most of the existing
buildings, once the students and staff have
decamped, and convert that plot into new
However, two buildings on the site will
not be demolished and will remain as part of
the new school; the stand-alone sixth form
college and a music block. The retention of
the latter building has necessitated BAM to
enlarge an adjacent toilet block.
The new school building is one large
U-shaped steel frame, partially enclosing a
landscaped garden. The steelwork gains its
stability from cross bracing, either located in
stairwells or in partition walls.
Overall the structure and its two outer
wings are 81m-long, with the back of the
U-shape building having a width of 69m.
“Many ESFA schools are built using a
steel-framed solution, as it’s viewed as a
quick form of construction,” says BAM
Construction Project Manager Jason Kelly.
“It’s also a tried and tested form of
construction for BAM, as we’ve done a
number of similar schemes.”
BAM Design Associate Engineer Stuart
Hinde agrees and adds: “We have designed a
lot of secondary schools over the years and
they are predominantly steel-framed.”
“We now have a default design method
for these projects, which gives us our
starting point, although we do fine tune and
constantly review each scheme.”
BAM’s standardised design method allows
each project to get an early start and work to
a regular kit of components. All of this helps
with procurement of materials and the speed
of the overall programme.
This design methodology also lends
itself to secondary school projects as
they are invariably similar, although the
layout of certain facilities will always
change depending on the location and the
“Our classroom layout of the English
Martyrs School is typical of our standardised
English Martyrs School,
Education and Skills
Funding Agency ESFA
Steel tonnage: 552t
Steel construction was
chosen for its speed of
Model of the