It was great to attend the Queen Elizabeth Studio School launch event this weekend.   It is such a unique school to have been a part of, and great to see it so well received by the staff, students and the wider community.  Eric Wright Construction has done a great job, along with the rest of the design team; Curtins Consulting, DEP Landscape Architecture, West Lancs Group. 

In addition to traditional GCSEs and A-levels, students are undertaking ‘professional learning’, working alongside local businesses to prepare for their futures.  Led in conjunction with professional partners from within the local community, the students will undertake such vocational subjects such as engineering, countryside studies, hospitality and social care.  This provides the teenagers with specific skills making them immediately employable and with an aim to them giving something back to their community. 

As the brief was to provide a school which would work differently to traditional teaching, jmarchitects had to innovate on the fairly prescriptive ESFA guidelines to create spaces which work better for a more professional and contemporary teaching environment.  This included a range of state-of-the-art learning spaces including a 142 sq m lecture/drama theatre with stage, working kitchens to be used by the pupils, IT hubs, digital media studios, art rooms including a photograph dark room, an engineering suite and 106 sq m of flexible working areas. 

Located on the edge of the Lake District National Park, and as visible from the busy A65 road, the project underwent an extended planning process to achieve a design that the client and local planning department were happy with.  The external palette of materials needed to be sympathetic to the local vernacular, whilst giving the studio school its own individual personality – distinct from the historic school that it is linked with. 

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