Headlands Primary School – SEND Extension

About the project:

About the School

The Headlands School, located in Northampton, provides education for approximately 450 pupils with a separate learning environment tailored for pupils with severe learning difficulties. The school is part of the NPAT academy trust


About the Project

Having previously worked with YMD Boon LTD, R1 Construction were invited to competitively tender for an extension and internal refurbishment package.

The new extension is to provide the Special education needs unit (SEN) with a new bespoke classroom, kitchen and hall, administration office and toilet facilities along with the internal refurbishment and reconfiguration of the existing school to create a further 2 additional classrooms complete with external aluminium canopies to the playground

The school itself takes pride in creating a fun and friendly teaching and learning environment in which pupils can strive.


Value Engineering

The new building was initially intended to be constructed utilising a steel portal framed construction method, however due to the site constraints and working within a live environment this would pose some difficulties with manoeuvring a crane onsite, not to mention this exceeded the client’s budget and it looked as though the scheme was in jeopardy of not proceeding.

R1 Construction were able to offer a solution, proposing the use of a SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panel System) which meant that the structure could be carried into position eliminating the need for a crane on site.

The other additional benefit of the SIPS building system is that the lead time is exceptionally shorter than the steel frame that had been designed, with the SIPS system being delivered to site 3 weeks from point of order and installed in 1 working day



Following successful award of the project under a JCT Design & Build 2016 Contract, R1 Construction undertook a the pre-construction services consisting of: Detailed ground investigation reports, ground penetrating radar and utility mapping surveys, CCTV drainage survey, sub-structure and building structural design, SBEM calculations, electrical capacity surveys and full M&E design.


Building Design and Finishes

Despite the SIPS panel superstructure being fabricated off site, all other works remain exactly as a traditional build would. Having the superstructure pre-manufactured means that the building shell can be erected in an incredibly short time (1 working day for this scheme) and forms a water-tight envelope.

Reaching this stage so quickly enables external and internal trades to work in parallel with each other rapidly accelerating the build programme. Other than the superstructure, all other works are undertaken in a traditional manner. All internal walls are fully plaster boarded and skimmed before receiving paint finishes. Plastered ceilings are installed throughout and a durable high grade non slip vinyl floor fitter throughout.

Externally the main frontage of the building is fitted with a white through coloured render system and wood grain effect fibre cement board cladding to comply with planning conditions.

The front elevation of the building also benefits from an aluminium canopy to provide shelter to the outside learning space



Despite significant material shortages experienced in 2021, R1 ensured all orders for materials were placed well in advance of their required delivery dates. Despite experiencing some extended material delays, all works were still able to be completed through re-sequencing certain aspects of the work.

The whole project was delivered within a live school environment, building within the school existing courtyard area. R1 Construction only work in education, and fully understand the importance of minimising the disruptive impact of construction works, particularly in sensitive and special education needs learning environments. Prior to works commencement we were able to gain a full understand of schools opening and closing times to arrange deliveries around these, and also programme the most disruptive works within the school holidays or outside of school hours.

The site itself is extremely constrained with minimal areas for material storage so all orders were delivered in a JIT (just in time manner) to prevent any stockpiling but also help reduce wastage.



Overall this has been an extremely successful project. The end result provides the school with a vibrant and exciting new facility that fully meets the client brief and budget constraints. The project has had its challenges but through a collaborative working approach with all involved these have been overcome and the school and its pupils will benefit greatly from this new environment for many years to come.