22 June 2023 Seminars

09:00 - 09:45


09:45 - 11:00

Opening Keynote – Welsh Government

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


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

  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
11:00 - 12:00

Conference Break & Networking

12:00 - 13:00

Health & Wellbeing

Wellbeing in Educational Environments and the creation of spaces that encourage ‘school culture’ to develop
Claire Broad, Associate Director – Interior Architecture, Rio Architects, Andrew Baker, Director, Rio Architects & Viv Buckley, Deputy Principal, Bridgend College

In partnership with Bridgend College we will be discussing their new STEAM academy in Pencoed. We will be looking at contributions from the Students that use the facility as well as those with involvement in the development of the landscaping.

Key talking points:
•The creation of ‘non-typical’ areas.
•Importance of visual connection between departments especially in a S.T.E.A.M environment.
•Increased open learning and social settings.
•The inclusion of biophilic design principles, light, air quality, connection to the external environment and inclusion of natural materials.
•The added benefit of Biodiversity; how it’s development and ownership strengthened the school culture.

How and if the above were successful in improving wellbeing and the development of the school culture.

12:00 - 13:00

New Build Projects

Fitzalan High School
Victoria Slater, Associate Architect, Austin-Smith:Lord & Julie Holmes, Operational Manger - Capital Delivery, Cardiff Council

Case Study on the new build Fitzalan High School project in Cardiff - The brief calls for the provision of a replacement new 11-18 10FE high school including 350 post 16 places to address “D” condition categorisation and “D” categorised sufficiency issues in the local area. This £64m project represents a significant new facility for the pupils, staff and local community. Handing over soon to the LEA, the new school is built in the same area facing the catchment area that it serves. The scheme involved a significant enabling works package to re-provide and enhance leisure facilities for CAVC and other education and community sports stakeholders and helps to create a wider leisure and education masterplan in Leckwith.

A key brief objective was that the design of the new school should provide flexible and adaptable spaces to teach and learn the New Progressive Curriculum. The design delivers these principles and supports the changing role of the teacher as a facilitator of learning. The building is arranged broadly through sectional adjacencies into the new Area of Learning clusters with each cluster supported by a range of space types and sizes, supportive of project based and thematic learning. Three halls are positioned at the heart of the school, arranged in a dramatic sequence of spaces cutting diagonally through the building section, with main hall at ground spilling onto the dining space which is connected through learning steps to a Sixth Form Hall on first Floor, allowing options for accommodating large school events and engaging with Creative Partners and the wider community.

The whole school is accommodated within a single 3-storey ‘superblock’ arrangement, with a simple, efficient form set on a modular design grid providing an excellent framework in which we have created a wide range of exciting, flexible and adaptable learning spaces within.

Mynydd Isa Campus Development
Christian Stanbury, WEPCo & James Jones, Sheppard Robson


13:00 - 14:00

Lunch & Networking

14:00 - 15:00

Additional Learning Needs

Is there such a thing as a flexible ALN environment?
Catherine Ward, Associate, SEN Lead, HLM Architects

There is a common thought that ALN schools cannot be standardised or consistent but require a bespoke approach to their design. However, my recent involvement in the design of several special schools, has led me to contemplate if it is possible to create a truly, flexible ALN environment, specifically for ambulant settings. This is especially pertinent and an important consideration for Local Authorities who are charged with providing an ever-increasing number of ALN places, often with a fluid cohort. How can we provide space fast enough to cope and not compromise on the needs of our most vulnerable children, young people and families.

Predicting and delivering the correct type and amount of places for children and young people with ALN is challenging, as the number of pupils with an EHCP continues to rise year on year particular those with Autism and SEMH. This is putting extra pressure on schools and Local Authorities that have a statutory requirement to educate as many pupils within their own authority as possible.

There are broadly speaking 4 types of special school settings which cover the following specialisms:

  • Communication and interaction
  • Cognition and learning
  • Social, emotional and mental health
  • Sensory and physical needs

Some special schools are generic, catering for a wide range of needs, others specialise in a particular area, or a sub-section of a particular area eg. autism or SLCN.

From a designer’s point of view, stand-alone special schools are typically divided by Building Bulletin 104 into ambulant and non-ambulant schools. Which category they fall into, will define the amount and type of both internal and external space they require.

This presentation will focus primarily on the needs of ambulant ALN schools and discuss whether it is possible to design highly flexible, agile ALN environments, that allow schools to deliver high quality education and care whilst allowing Local Authorities to maximise the number of pupil places they are able to provide, for a wide variety of primary needs.

14:00 - 15:00

Refurbishment & Retrofit Projects

The Bute Building
Rob Stevens, Associate Architect, BDP

In 2021 the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) launched the first ever Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment. Alongside the vision and policy recommendations for a Net Zero Carbon trajectory to 2050, the roadmap carried a stark message for the sector that buildings and construction make up a staggering 42% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst there has been some progress in reducing the carbon footprint of new buildings, the elephant in the room is that 80% of the existing UK building stock will still be in use by 2050.

As an industry we must continue to maintain momentum towards designing new buildings which are sustainable and energy efficient, but there is also a vital need for the reuse and repurposing of our existing buildings in lieu of constructing new ones by default. Indeed, with the substructure and superstructure of buildings contributing the largest proportion of embodied carbon, refurbishment and reuse projects can play a crucial role in the future of UK construction in its target to decarbonise the built environment.

BDP’s recently completed retrofit of the Bute Building for the Welsh School of Architecture is a great example of how an existing historic building can be strategically repurposed with light-touch and targeted interventions that not only breathe new life into the building for future generations of architects but also significantly reduce its carbon impact.

Pen Y Dre – Net Zero Carbon in Operation
David Evans, Senior Design Manager, Morgan Sindall & Lawray Architects

15:00 - 15:45

Conference Break & Networking

15:45 - 16:45

Decarbonisation of Existing Estates

Decarbonising Colleges
Helen Groves, Architect Director, Atkins & Alex Anderson, Head of Estates Development & Facilities, Coleg Gwent College

Colleges have the same decarbonisation ambition as schools, but often with larger estates to manage. Coleg Gwent have recently been undergoing a review of their facilities to determine how to achieve their Net Zero ambitions, in the context of the wider Welsh Government requirements. This presentation will focus on managing the opportunities for estate improvement with a specific focus on vocational buildings, whilst improving the facilities for the particular needs of college users. Atkins have recently completed a feasibility exercise for the College and we will use this as an exploration into the wider themes.

15:45 - 16:45


Cefn Saeson Project
Stuart Moyse, Former Deputy Head of Cefn Saeson Comprehensive (and Educational Building Consultant at SAM Education Building Consultancy Cymru Ltd) & Graham Hirst, Managing Director, Ministry of Furniture


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