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Four-year improvement works elevate high school in Brentwood

19 Jun 2024

Headshot of Lizzy Bennett

Lizzy Bennett


A significant four-year programme to improve pupil accessibility and retention has completed in Essex, delivering upgraded facilities in line with modern teaching standards.


The restoration of Brentwood County High School, undertaken by two of construction’s leading industry names, has seen the introduction of two new specialist teaching blocks, a refurbished sports hall, landscaping and a multi-use games area, greatly benefitting student learning and teaching experiences.

The project was carried out in phases in a live working environment, also seeing careful restoration of the school’s spectacular main building, which is considered a heritage asset under its original 1930s design. Demolition work was also undertaken of existing teaching facilities to make way for the new blocks, which focus on art and design technology, science and general teaching.

Pick Everard is behind the programme, operating via formal appointment to deliver architectural services, with contractor Bowmer + Kirkland appointed through the DfE Construction Framework.

“This was a huge scope of work which ties into key objectives for the educational sector. The school had a clear vision to bring its services in line with modern standards and create something industry-leading to attract and retain students in the area.

“It was a project that also had defined challenges, which our teams catered for in the initial planning and design stages. Given its long-term nature, we knew there had to be minimal interference to the teaching and the student experience. This meant splitting the required accommodation between two individual buildings, while the refurbishment of the sports hall took place early on in the project to ensure exams could continue without disruption.

“Heritage was also a key consideration for the building design, with our teams developing a bespoke and sympathetic heritage colour palette in line with the school’s identity, which was then carried through all facilities across the school, creating cohesion across the campus.

“We’re proud to have helped deliver this remarkable school alongside Bowmer + Kirkland, creating a standard of excellence in design for the region.”

— Lizzy Bennett, director at Pick Everard

The new facilities at Brentwood include photovoltaic (PV) solutions as well as a ‘fabric-first’ approach to the school’s thermal design, delivering improvements to the building envelope.

The work also forms part of Bowmer + Kirkland’s 'configure system' - a standardised construction approach for schools that meets the requirements of the Department for Education (DfE) and school planning systems for educational design. The system is then tailored according to the needs of each school.

Under this regulatory approach, extra high glazing on staircases was ‘back designed’ into the project, in line with standards that evolved during the construction programme.

The project also had to navigate circumstances brought about by the COVID pandemic, with team and client engagement taking place online for RIBA Stages 1, 2 and 3.


We are privileged to work on hundreds of education projects that are improving the lives of children and young adults from pre-school, right through to higher education.

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Internal of the Vijay Patel Building