St Marks Church of England (all through) School, Southampton

Completion Date September 2022

Contract Value £25m

Client Southampton City Council

St Mark’s Church of England School is the first all through school for pupils aged 4 to 16 in Southampton. The previous primary school was demolished to make way for the new buildings which have resulted in accommodation for an additional 900 secondary pupils alongside a pre-school nursery for 24 children and 420 primary pupils.

One of the key challenges of creating a new all-through school was to ensure that the two elements could be operated as a single school, with a single leadership team, but allowing each to remain separate for educational purposes. The tight urban site presented further challenges with the planning and built context necessitating a building of considerable civic presence.

These principals became embedded in the brief and were key drivers for the resultant design which allowed shared spaces, such as dining and the library, to be placed at the heart of the school enabling each cohort of pupils to reach them without mixing with each other. It was also recognised that the secondary hall and primary hall should be retained within the separate school areas as these are critical in the function of the school, especially the range of activities that take place in the primary hall. These moves combined to ensure that primary children and secondary children would not mix in corridors as a matter of course without supervision.

The secondary school is entered from the Shirley Road via a double height space of genuine civic presence. The entry sequence goes on to give access to a small central atrium, which at ground floor acts as the dining room with an accommodation stair rising through the building providing links to all areas and a sense of orientation. Clerestory rooflights flood the center of the deep plan building with daylight, while the secondary school hall is accessed directly off the central atrium area with the two combining to create a focal point for the school.

Procured through Pagabo and compliant with DFE specifications, the building was completed by Morgan Sindall Construction in September 2022 on time and on budget.