Pioneer House: New school building to benefit student learning

Pioneer House: New school building to benefit student learning

Students at Pioneer House High School in Wythenshaw have moved into their new building now the first phase of work is completed.

Our brief was to design a school suitable for pupils with complex learning difficulties that would be easy to navigate with flowing spaces and practical essentials including a new, large Assembly Hall.

The development on the former Piper Hill High School site on Yew Tree Lane began in 2016 for Piper Hill Learning Trust, which supports children with learning difficulties.

The buildings, dating from the 1950s to the early 1990s through various extensions over the years, had fallen into disrepair since the previous school was vacated some years ago. Our challenge was to inspire learning by making use of those existing buildings, combined with new additions, to create a vibrant and well-connected space within the tight financial constraints of ESFA Funding.

The front of the school already had attractive, mature trees which we retained to soften the frontage. Drop off and access points have been more clearly defined with improved car parking and safe pedestrian routes.

A new main reception and café area at the front of the site creates a welcoming and vibrant entry point for staff, students, and the wider community.

New classrooms have been established around the perimeter to allow for lots of natural daylight and a positive learning environment. And by building a roof over the existing courtyard, we created a large-scale space for assemblies and functions.

From this area, the layout of the school is easy to navigate following a circular route and the buildings’ single story scale ensures inclusive access to benefit all 80 pupils and the rest of the school community.

Simon Parker, one of the directors at seven architecture, led the project and said it was a fascinating project to work on.

“We have worked closely with Pioneer House to develop a school building that best supports students with learning difficulties – a safe and positive environment in which to learn.

“It’s a modern, accessible and attractive space that works on a practical level too. In particular, the large assembly hall at the heart of the building gives the space a special dimension.

“The classrooms, activity and admin rooms and play areas have all been designed in a cohesive way. We are proud of the results and hope students will enjoy working in the new building.”