23 June 2022 Seminars

09:00 - 09:45

Registration & Networking & Meet the Exhibitors

09:45 - 11:00

Opening Keynote – Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme Update

Keynote address &  Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme Update


Neal O'Leary, Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning, Welsh Government

Sara Humber, Programme Director MIM - Sustainable Communities for Learning

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Welsh Government

Chair: Emyr Harries


  • Emyr Harries Deputy Director - Education Business Planning and Governance, Welsh Government

  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
  • Sara Humber Programme Director MIM - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
  • Jeremy Miles MS Minister for Education and Welsh Language
11:00 - 12:00

Conference Break & Networking

12:00 - 13:00

Session 2: Optimising Net Zero Carbon in Operation

Optimising Net Zero Carbon in Operation


Jane O'Leary, Strategic Advisor, Education, ISG

Rhodri Davies, Senior Sustainability Manager, ISG

Chair: Neil Thomas, Senior Associate, the-learning-crowd

For the sake of our climate and our future generations, the Welsh government are committed that all new schools in Wales are to be zero carbon.

Although there is still no legal definition of zero carbon, the most commonly used definition if that from the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI), Zero Carbon design guide (Climate Emergency Design Guide | LETI) . This states that an educational building must use not more than 65 KWH/m2/year of total energy and that this remaining energy use must be from a certifiable, renewable tariff.

Accurate measurement of a building’s operational energy performance, is therefore, for the first time now important to many building professionals and occupiers. Unfortunately, unlike traditional environmental certifications to date this does not rely solely on the design and construction quality, but also the operational practises within the building and the maintenance procedures which are adhered to.

By remotely monitoring our buildings which have been designed and constructed to operate to these ‘net zero in operation’ standards, ISG are able to use real time data to understand how a building is performing. Using real time data, we can compare the performance with the predications from the thermal model of in use energy, using real time weather data and occupancy patterns. This not only allows us to understand the accuracy of our current modelling tools, and determine the building is being continuously commissioned correctly during the first few years of operation, but also identifies how willing occupiers are to operate buildings in ‘net zero carbon’ manner.

Introduction to Active Buildings

Speaker: Joanna Clarke, Design Manager, SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University

This presentation will provide an introduction to SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University and the Active Building concept they have developed as a solution to support the transition to a low carbon built environment. Active Buildings support local and national electricity grid networks by integrating renewable energy technologies, energy storage and smart controls for heat, power and transport. Several Active Building case studies will be presented, demonstrating the role Active Buildings can play in helping Wales and the UK meet their 2050 decarbonisation targets.


12:00 - 13:00

Session 3: Inspiring Learning Spaces

A holistic approach to health and wellbeing in creating inspirational education spaces 

Speaker: Robert Hopkins, Regional Director, AHR & Royal College of Physicians

Completed in 2021, the new 160,000 ft2 northern home of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in Liverpool, The Spine, is one of a handful of buildings globally designed to WELL Platinum and rated to BREEAM Excellent. The RCP are pioneers in all fields of medical research and needed a space that reflected this. The building houses a multitude of different learning spaces, with biophilic patterns used throughout, creating an environment that nurtures productivity and innovation. With a philosophy that people will feel healthier when they walk out of the building than when they walk in, The Spine is an outstanding example of using education design to inspire creative learning.

AHR is also designing the new 10,000m2 Health and Wellbeing Academy for the University of Huddersfield. The new faculty building for the School of Human and Health Science will encompass facilities that encourage users to engage strongly with the cutting-edge health education and research taking place there. The site will shape the future practitioners of healthcare and is on target to achieve WELL Platinum and BREEAM Excellent when completed.

Both buildings contain state-of-the-art teaching facilities for a range of health professionals and integrate biophilic interventions throughout. These are not only visually appealing but are also proven to have a measurable positive impact on people’s health through improved stress recovery, and sleeping patterns, ultimately increasing productivity.

Educational spaces which embed the health and wellbeing of their users into the heart of their design can not only impact the way future learning spaces are designed but can also influence health and wellbeing in design across a plethora of sectors. Our presentation will explore an innovative approach to education design, how biophilic interventions can impact people’s health and wellbeing and create salutogenic learning spaces.

What is the Metaverse, and is it relevant to education in Wales, or is it ‘childish’ gaming hype?

Speaker: David Judge, Executive Creative Director, Space Zero

For the last 12 months, Space Zero has been investigating the possibilities of this emerging technology and will be sharing its findings. These point to the far more positive use of this emerging technology in the development of school estates, school as an experience, and more powerful, immersive, memorable, and collaborative learning, rather than the digitally dystopian future people many fear.


12:00 - 13:00

Workshop: Bringing Educational Settings into our Communities in Wales – Unlocking our school gates

Through the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, Community Hubs Grant, and more recently £25 million investment for Community Focused Schools to tackle the impact of poverty on our learners attainment, the Welsh Government is driving the strategic use of education infrastructure in Wales.  We not only want Community Focused Schools to use their facilities and resources to tackle inequality and benefit their local communities, we also want them to nurture and develop partnerships with organisations around them and make services accessible locally to families and the wider community.

Community Focused Schools are a key Programme for Government commitment. The Welsh Government are keen to hear your views on how we can continue to be strategic in this investment and welcome you to attend this workshop to inform how any potential future funding can be targeted towards areas of greatest needs.

Speaker:  Natalie James-Rutledge

Workshop session in the Council Chamber


  • Natalie James-Rutledge Senior Capital Funding Manager - Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme - The Education Directorate | Welsh Government
13:00 - 14:00

Lunch & Networking

14:00 - 15:00

Session 4: Decarbonisation of Existing Estates

Helping existing schools get to net zero carbon


Alan Fogarty, Partner, Cundall

Peter Hazzard, Associate Director - Schools and Colleges Sector Lead, Cundall

Existing buildings are our biggest challenge when it comes to achieving net zero carbon, so Cundall has created a pilot project that aims to help existing schools lower their emissions.
The pilot involves Cundall analysing the carbon footprint of two primary schools and then advising on how to lower emissions, alongside contractors and supply chain partners, assisting them to make the necessary changes. The pilot not only has enormous social value, but also enables Cundall to double offset its emissions. Once with gold standard globally accredited schemes and with this initiative.
If successful, this pilot will be rolled out to Cundall’s global business and could also be adopted by other organisations in the industry as the trend toward investing in projects with net zero carbon and social value continues.

One of the main benefits of the pilot is social value. By helping the school lower its carbon emissions, we will be helping them save energy. Less energy cost equals more money to spend on other areas such as their curriculum. There will also be an educational element. Cundall staff will be able to present and discuss the findings and interventions with staff and pupils ensuring the next generation learn the importance of a sustainable built environment.

Cundall is already a carbon neutral business. We achieve this by continuously working to lower our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and then purchasing gold standard offsets for anything we cannot eliminate. However, the authenticity of many offsets has been brought into question, so this pilot ensures deliverability by retaining control over funds, so we know exactly what we are investing in. These local offsets will be in addition to the offsets we currently purchase and will ultimately help us and our industry partners with our ambition to be carbon positive by 2025.





  • Jon James Director + Architect - Jon James Studio Architecture

14:00 - 15:00

Session 5: Inclusive Learning Spaces

Adapting HCD for SEN and putting it into practice 

Speakers: Lucy Greenland, Project Architect & Simon Kneafsey, Associate Director, Atkins

How do we broaden the engagement process to ensure it is inclusive of all users of a building, particularly those with special educational needs? How are we able to utilise digital tools to capture meaningful data from SEN staff/pupils to ensure their specific needs are acknowledged and integrated as part of the brief and ultimately building?

Atkins’ Human-Centred Design Toolkit is an innovative tool with the aim of improving peoples’ wellbeing by placing the users at the heart of our thinking at both a macro and micro scale.

Together with the National Autistic Society we are researching and exploring how we develop our HCD toolkit to become fully inclusive of all users. This includes direct engagement with both SEN pupils and their supporting staff to gain an in depth understanding of their specific needs and how this information can be captured in both the brief and design of their future environment.

Key aspects of our work include:
- Establishing tailored SEN questions to collect meaningful data from end users.
- Exploring the integration of established SEN communication methods into our briefing/engagement tool such as ‘Picture Exchange Communications Systems’ (PECS).
- Establishing the most important parameters/wellbeing indicators for SEN such as sensory requirements (i.e. Hyper/Hyposensitivity), wellbeing (i.e. anxiety and processing/sequencing of information) and flexibility (i.e. to accommodate for the diversity in SEN needs).
- Exploring innovative analysis methods which ensure that qualities of an environment which are important to those with SEN become an integral part of our design option analysis.

Case Study: The use of the SEN HCD Digital tool in the development of a brief for a new all through school for Pembrokeshire County Council

Inclusive Design: Basic Principles and exciting opportunities

Speaker: Victoria Savage, Architect, IBI Group

Teachers today have to prepare lessons inclusive of a broad reaching spectrum of learning difficulties. And that’s just in mainstream schools! Ask any specialised SEN teacher how many different learning needs their students might have in any given sample of class and it is unlikely to be a short answer. Combined with the growing list of acronyms and politically correct vocabulary, teaching special educational needs could feel like a minefield, let alone attempting to design with SEN in mind. What impact could we as designers have in this ever changing and ever evolving sphere?

Questions and discussions will cover:
1. Knowing your client, your user group, your USP.
2. Working collaboratively, consistently and carefully.
3. Pushing for creative solutions and innovative options even within the age-old constraints of budget and programme.


14:00 - 15:00

Workshop: The Welsh Education Partnership Company Story so Far

The Welsh Education Partnership Company Story so Far


Christian Stanbury, Chief Executive, Welsh Education Partnership Company

We will be discussing the various projects and their progress so far, lessons learnt and our challenges to date. This will include how the development process works and our partnership approach with Local Authorities and Further Education Institutes. In particular we will share our focus on Net Zero Carbon, the Partnering Support Services we can offer, and the community benefits we provide both locally and nationally across Wales.


15:00 - 15:45

Conference Break and Networking

15:45 - 16:45

Session 6: Active Travel and Strategic Planning

Creating Sustainable Learning Communities: Supporting Active Travel Choices

Speaker: Dr Dafydd Trystan, Chair, Active Travel Board Wales

The presentation will outline the overall Welsh Government strategy for supporting Active Travel to Schools and other Education Settings, and draw on best practice examples of successful new build projects that have incorporated active travel as key features from the outset. It will set out a number of key elements of success to building zero carbon sustainable communities for learning including the transport infrastructure.

Black Mountains College

Black Mountains College is a new further and higher education college founded as a direct response to the ecological and climate crisis. Led by activist and writer Ben Rawlence, the school’s unique programme will connect the environment, society and the individual, to produce rounded, resilient leaders with a wide set of capabilities which can address a growing skills gap in Wales and the UK.

Featherstone Young are the architects designing the new campus in the Brecon Beacons National Park, crafting it from an existing farmstead, through both reuse of existing buildings and carefully sited new buildings.  Adopting the most effective sustainable principles it will promote active travel with cycling and walking as the primary mode of transport to and from the campus.


Sarah Featherstone, Director, Featherstone Young

Ben Rawlence, Black Mountains College

15:45 - 16:45

Session 7: Delivering Learning Spaces

Today’s Construction Challenges? Modular Solutions

Speaker: Sarah Denton, Business Manager, Portakabin

 Ysgol Bae Baglan: An All-Through Community School

Speaker: Simon Trew, Regional Director, Stride Treglown

Ysgol Bae Baglan is a landmark all-through school for Neath Port Talbot and the recipient of the Eisteddfod Gold Medal for Architecture in 2017. Five years on, Simon Trew reflects on the design and delivery journey and the positive impact the school has had on pupils and the local community.


  • Gavin Traylor President of RSAW and Lecturer at the Swansea School of Architecture

  • Sarah Denton Business Manager - Portakabin
  • Simon Trew Architect & Regional Director (Cardiff) - Stride Treglown
17:00 - 18:00

Networking Drinks Reception