25 June 2024 Seminars

08:30 - 09:30


09:30 - 10:15

Welsh Government Opening Keynote

Video Address: Lynne Neagle MS, Cabinet Secretary for Education

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

  • Lynne Neagle MS Cabinet Secretary for Education - Welsh Government
  • Emyr Harries Deputy Director - Education Business Planning and Governance, Welsh Government
  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
10:15 - 11:15

Conference Break & Networking

11:15 - 12:15

Refurbishment & Retrofit

Innovation for University Refurbishment & Retrofit Challenges
Kate Thomas, Director, Austin-Smith:Lord

Retrofit and refurbishment are increasingly crucial for estate carbon reduction agendas as well as for delivering new facilities at lower capital project cost per m² than new-build alternatives. Universities nationwide are custodians of a fair portfolio of buildings with historic value which are often no longer fit for future teaching and learning needs or carbon net zero agendas.
There are many challenges posed by existing buildings to be proactively overcome for maximising their potential, by pushing both the boundaries of design vision and energy efficiency.

Obstacles can be unique to the individual building, but we also see common themes with recurring challenges and opportunities that estates teams will become increasingly familiar with in the coming years. In this presentation we will cover our top recurring challenges in refit projects using examples of successful design and technical solutions we have implemented, in some cases innovated with support from engineering disciplines. Examples will be drawn from a variety of higher education projects and existing building types, including conversion of buildings from various eras, and reconfiguration and refurbishment of post-millennium buildings responding to changing post-covid and future envisaged teaching and learning requirements.

Staff and student wellbeing agendas and increased digital learning are two prevalent drivers for change in the nature of spaces required on campus, fundamentally changing the cohort sizes, scale, shape, use and feel of spaces required for best practice in teaching, learning and pastoral support. Adapting traditional limiting tiered lecture halls to more collaborative, flexible spaces is one such example amongst many others.

Using a variety of solutions from various projects and institutions, this presentation aims to excite and embolden the vision we collectively have for adaptive reuse, and see past apparent limitations of existing building stock to the opportunities they present for high value and fantastic comparative investment return.


  • Sam Rees Senior Public Affairs Officer - Wales - RICS

11:15 - 12:15

Sustainable Schools Challenge

Through the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme bids were commissioned for the innovative delivery of two new primary schools in Wales that demonstrated innovation and collaboration with local communities - including school pupils - in their design, delivery and management.  Such was the interest in the Sustainable Schools Challenge three successful bids were chosen to progress: these being Bontnewydd Community Campus in Gwynedd, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Rhosafan in Neath Port Talbot and a new primary school in the Glyn-coch community of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The approach taken by each of the three project teams will present the pathway taken for their exciting design and collaborative approach and will act as a blueprint for future school developments. They offer an opportunity to learn about sustainability, and also for learners to have an opportunity to be involved with the design (including appointment of a design team!) and delivery of these buildings, to shape the environment they will learn with and to understand how decisions taken today have an impact on their future.

Bontnewydd Community Campus, Gwynedd

  • Aimee Jones, TACP Architects
  • Richard Farmer, Gwynedd Council

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Rhosafan, Neath Port Talbot


Glyn-coch, Rhondda Cynon Taf

  • Daniel Jones, Willmott Dixon
  • Nicola Millard, Willmott Dixon
  • Jessica Roach, Willmott Dixon
  • James Page, Stride Treglown
  • Mark Morant, Arda Consulting
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf representatives


  • Alwyn Jones Head of Education Estates – Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government

12:15 - 13:15

Lunch & Networking

13:15 - 14:15

Decarbonisation Solutions for Schools

Can an Energy Pod System be Used as a Means to Decarbonisation?
Ian Keeling, Principal Engineer, Cundall

As a national imperative there is a drive to reduce carbon emissions to meet the UKs carbon budgets. Using the Government’s thought leadership in Modern Methods of Construction the ‘Energy Pod’ project seeks to explore the opportunity to set out a standard design for low carbon modular off site produced plant rooms to act as a plug and play technology to decarbonise
operational buildings and sites.

The Energy Pod Research and Innovation Project takes on a whole system approach to decarbonisation. It is not, however, intended to address all elements from day one by itself. It is recognised that very few schools will be in a position to transfer immediately to an all-electric solution (such as Heat Pumps), due to the cost of the fabric improvements that are required to
make such systems viable.

The premise of the Energy Pods solution is to put in place a planned routemap for the initial installation of the Pods, but also the longer term interventions to fully decarbonise a site. The project team has developed the designs to prove the viability as a platform system, and has also put together a Design Guide for engaging Schools and Multi-Academy Trusts with the
Energy Pods pathway. This presentation will detail the current designs, as well as the proposed routes to get involved.


  • Helen Groves Architect Director - Education Sector Lead Building Design - AtkinsRéalis

13:15 - 14:15

Inspiring Learning Spaces supporting Health & Wellbeing and Additional Learning Needs

Believing and Belonging - Bassaleg School
Victoria Lambe, Head Teacher, & Matthew Maughan, Deputy Head Teacher, Bassaleg School & Charlotte Balcombe, Associate, Powell Dobson Architects 

We know well designed, nurturing school environments can promote positive behaviour and safer schools and communities. The World Health Organisation (WHO) sets out “health, well-being and educational outcomes are closely intertwined” and that schools are important resources for influencing the health and well-being of students, staff, families, and the wider community. In this presentation we will hear direct from the Head and Deputy Head Teachers of Bassaleg school where health and wellbeing underpins the heart and soul of the School. The school’s mantra ‘Believing and Belonging’ is at the centre of every decision and pivotal in the development of the brief and scheme design for the new 8975m2 building, Adeilad Balch.

This presentation will explore the following:

  • End-user engagement throughout the Design Process – how this has enhanced user experiences; fundamental to the success of the project was input from all parties.
  • Staff well-being perspective – design decisions made to improve staff Health and Wellbeing
  • Student perspective (either a pre-recorded video or live)
  • Re-location of the Sixth Form Centre and the benefit this has provided for the pupils and Staff.
  • Design Decisions to improve health and wellbeing of end-users:
    o Clear wayfinding using colours to differentiate areas and improve navigation.
    o Location of break-out and social areas adjacent to large areas of glazing
    o Overall design of the building – transparent glass front and entrance, curtain walling used to provide a clear connection to the outside.
    o optimising the building’s solar orientation by controlling the intake of daylight through solar shades, light shelves, and translucent wall assemblies.
  • The new building enables the original Forge Building of Bassaleg School to become a dedicated space for Learning and ALN. This provides a clear emphasis on how much well-being and health is prioritised in the school.

Designing for Additional Learning Needs [RCTCBC New All-through School]
Carly Parramore, Senior Architect, AtkinsRéalis

How RCTCBC Education and Estates teams brought together a working group of specialist practitioners, co-ordinators and designers to develop a vision for their new all-through school for pupils with Additional Learning Needs. The working group included head teachers from three similar schools in the county, with their shared experiences driving the basis of design for the new school; enabling the local authority to capitalise on continuous learning and improvement.
Examples of how key ‘user-inspired’ design drivers being adopted for the new school impacted briefing information and schedules of spaces include:

  • Progression: at the heart of the new curriculum, progression has been key to the development of the briefing information in terms of knowledge, understanding and skills: the design of the space and facilities shall allow pupils to learn and then demonstrate skills, with increasing complexity through a series of developed pathways within the school.
  • Health and Wellbeing: aligned to the Curriculum AoLE a sensory curriculum will be prioritised in terms of space allocation, to be delivered both from within the classbases and through an enhanced Wellbeing hub.
  • Family/community engagement: in line with Welsh Government guidance on community focussed schools, and building on the successes of other ALN schools in the county a Community Suite will act in conjunction with the Wellbeing hub to deliver a broad programme of engagement for pupils, families and the local community to provide support for pupils during and outside of school life.

Conclusions will centre on the idea of engagement: where building design is optimised to support user needs, pupils will benefit from having improved well-being and subsequently more time and capability to learn, play and socialise. Therefore, the time taken to understand those needs by investing in the engagement process is critical to the success of any ALN project.

14:15 - 15:15

Conference Break & Networking

15:15 - 16:15

Designing for Student Wellbeing

Cardiff Council’s Design Framework for ‘High Quality Learning Environments’
Helen Groves, Architect Director and National Education Sector Lead, AtkinsRéalis & Cardiff Council

Aligned to Cardiff Council’s 2030 Vision for a Capital City for Learning and Opportunity, their Education Team have been driving a number of workstreams in order to realise the Goals set out within the document, in particular the development of a framework of ambition for creating ‘High Quality Learning Environments’ for new and existing schools in Cardiff. This framework builds upon Cardiff Council’s developing curriculum strategy demonstrating its direct impact and opportunity on school design.

The design framework, and similarly the curriculum strategy, draws on common themes representative of key drivers in current guidance, policy, and legislation from local-level, to Welsh Government, in order to capture the potential added value between different areas of focus and subsequently design. The design framework sets out high level principles, which are the tools for creating vibrant and engaging High Quality Learning Environments.

Some of the key themes and outputs of the framework will be explored in the presentation, demonstrating how Cardiff Council’s goals are supported and facilitated through the design framework, for example to create a ‘Learning Entitlement’ for all children and young people. This example shall consider how school design can respond to the goal for all children and young people to be able to access appropriate routes into education and learning opportunities and to ensure that no-one is left behind. This would include detailing the impact on schedules of spaces and area distribution (including adaptation, adjacencies and connectivity), opportunity to enhance Cardiff’s ambition for community focussed schools, and improving wellbeing in schools; culminating in the creation of a wellbeing hub in each school.

Uniting Student Services at the heart of the campus
Simon Doody, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Cardiff University’s new Centre for Student Life brings student facing services together under one roof at the centre of the City Campus. Part of the biggest campus upgrade in a generation the building it signifies the importance student wellbeing and future potential to the mission of the university.
CSL is a single gateway for all non-academic student enquiries. Students only have to ask their question, or tell their story, once - the Centre for Student Life joins up the people and processes necessary to provide the answer, making all services more visible and accessible. It enables new approaches to service provision, including peer-to-peer assistance, supported self-help and technology-enabled delivery.

Located on Park Place, the building responds to its somewhat formal civic location at the heart of the University, with a sweeping colonnade that unites town and gown.

This case study looks at how key issues of student wellbeing, orientation and estate development were addressed to create a welcoming and inviting building for staff, students and the public on a complex and constrained site.


  • Helen Groves Architect Director - Education Sector Lead Building Design - AtkinsRéalis
  • Simon Doody Partner - Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
15:15 - 16:15

MIM Programme 18 months on

MIM Programme 18 months on
Christian Stanbury, WEPCo & James Jones, Sheppard Robson

Eighteen months on from Financial Close for the first MIM Pathfinder schemes, how is the programme developing, what are the challenges and lessons learned so far and what does the future look like?

Christian Stanbury of WEPCo and James Jones of Sheppard Robson will talk through progress to date – with the first primary schools completing and some large FE colleges on the drawing board – and set out crucial lessons learned around design, engagement, and delivery as well as the challenges of meeting ambitious Net Zero Carbon targets. Developing and designing projects in a challenging economic climate has created a volume of lessons which they are keen to share with the audience as well as how these are being applied to the forthcoming FE schemes.



16:15 - 16:20

Move to Large Chemistry for final session

16:20 - 17:10

Fairwater Campus

Pioneering education campus design at Fairwater Campus
Angela Withey, Cardiff Council & Jane O’Leary, ISG

Fairwater Campus will be the largest, in scale and investment, of Cardiff’s education developments delivered under Cardiff Council and Welsh Government’s Band B Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. Three new build schools will be located on one site, becoming home to Cantonian High School, Riverbank School and Woodlands High School.

The campus will be:

  • Operationally Net Zero Carbon, target significant reduction in embodied carbon during build stage of the project, and be highly energy efficient buildings that are powered from renewable energy sources.
  • Enable Cardiff to deliver its One Planet Strategy
  • Expand the Specialist Resource Base (SRB) for learners with an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC)
  • Offer comprehensive facilities which will be available for public use
  • Provide a distinct combination of learning which will allow each school to share facilities, expertise and teaching opportunities

In December 2018, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet agreed a recommendation to hold public consultation on the proposals to build an education campus in Fairwater. As part of the Band B Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme, the need for additional secondary school places and Additional Learning Needs (ALN) places for children with complex learning needs was identified.

Feedback from pupils, staff, parents and the local community have helped to inform the plans and deliver on our commitment to give young people a voice and highlights Cardiff's Child Friendly City strategy, where the voices and rights of children are an integral part of decision making. Cardiff has been awarded the UK’s first child friendly city status by UNICEF.

As design plans progress, consideration will be given to the diverse range of learner needs so that they feel safe with a clear sense of identity, and that they can recognise the importance of belonging not only to their individual school but also, to the wider campus.

Fairwater Campus: Are inclusive learning environments the way forward to create a more equal society?
Gina Callaghan, Architect / SEN Lead (Wales), HLM Architects

Fairwater Campus, in Cardiff, is an ambitious project that aims to bring together three schools onto one site - capturing Cardiff Council’s vision, the Fairwater Campus will co-locate Cantonian High School, Woodlands Secondary Additional Learning Needs (ALN) School, and Riverbank Primary ALN School, onto the existing Cantonian High School site in Fairwater. HLM’s design for the new school provides an equitable and collaborative, modern education facility for a total of 1,800 students. It will be net zero carbon in use and will also provide comprehensive facilities to the wider community outside of school hours.

This presentation will study Fairwater Campus (now that it has commenced construction) to explore the pros and cons of inclusive learning environments to ascertain whether they are good for all or contain unintentional biases. We will achieve this by looking at the project from the designer, client, and end-user perspectives to examine the differences between these views and how the project responds to their different requirements. We will also address the scheme in a national context to assess the feasibility of developing similar schemes across the country and the impact this could have on the educational landscape and society as a whole.


  • Angela Withey Area Commissioning Lead - Schools Organisation Programme - City of Cardiff Council
  • Jane O’Leary Sector Director of Education - ISG
  • Gina Callaghan Architect / SEN Lead (Wales) - HLM Architects
17:10 - 17:20

Closing Remarks

  • Neal O’Leary Programme Director - Sustainable Communities for Learning - Welsh Government
17:30 - 17:30

Event Close