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£13 million Sunderland school build contract nears completion

ByDave Stopher

Aug 24, 2022

A specialist Sunderland school which supports children with severe learning and physical difficulties is nearing completion.

Sunningdale SEN School, in Doxford Way, looks set to make its mark on the education of Wearside pupils aged two-eleven when it opens this September. It is the biggest school of its kind delivered through the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) building and construction works framework, with Kier being awarded the £13 million contract.

The new 4000sq metre new-build school, is part of the City Council’s £45 million programme of school updates.

It will offer state of the art facilities, extra hall and therapy provisions including rebound therapy, hydrotherapy, light and sensory facilities and soft play. Each class will also have a storage area for mobility equipment, for pupils with physical disabilities.

When completed in September, the school site will offer around 56 regular parking spaces and four accessible bays for staff and visitors, along with electric charging bays for four vehicles. Meanwhile, cycle-friendly facilities will also be incorporated as part of the development, including secure storage shelters and changing facilities with showers to encourage use of sustainable commuting.

Laura Kyle, construction lead at NEPO said: “Through a successful tender process, Kier was awarded the project as principal contractor in February 2021.

“This is the biggest project of its kind to be delivered through the framework and one which demonstrates real social value offering state-of-the-art facilities for the local community.

“NEPO’s building and construction works solution has been in place since 2018 and provides a compliant route for the North East public sector to procure construction contractors.

“Since its launch, our procurement solution has drawn on expertise from the public and private sector partners to drive best practice within the construction sector market. NEPO proactively manages contractor performance to maximise supply chain opportunities, local labour usage and other social value outcomes.”

Established in 1976, NEPO works in partnership with North East local authorities and the wider public sector to ensure public sector spending delivers value and drives positive outcomes. NEPO procures a wide range of goods and services, which means its solutions feature suppliers of all shapes and sizes, from SMEs to large multinationals.

Dan Doherty, regional director at Kier Construction North & Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be delivering this much needed new school for Sunderland City Council.  Throughout the duration of the project, social value, giving back to the communities in which we work, and taking a sustainable approach to construction have been a major focus.

“To date over 71% of those employed on the project have been local, with four new jobs created. We’ve also hosted 19 site visits for local students and residents and provided 250 weeks of apprenticeship training on site.  Alongside this, we have used HVO fuels in all plant on site including our generators, which powered our site cabin set up.”

Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for children, education and skills, councillor Louise Farthing, said: “We’re absolutely determined that we continue to provide all young people with first class facilities and the very best learning environment.

“Sunningdale works with some of our most vulnerable young people and the partnership work on the new school has ensured that its students are getting the very best.”