St Mary’s Catholic College · Blackpool

Incredible new build school with transformed existing facilities for the children and young people of Blackpool
Blackpool Local Education Partnership
12,817 sqm
April 2014
Nightingale Associates
BREEAM Very Good


As part of the Blackpool Building Schools for the Future scheme St Mary’s Catholic College is an exciting new combined secondary and primary school. The project comprises the construction of 1,220 place secondary school, 210 place primary school and place of worship.

The scheme has seen approximately 70% of the school rebuilt, with the remainder being remodelled and refurbished. The project allowed Christ the King Primary School and Christ the King Parish Church come together as one development on the site to create a new ‘Through School’.

Phase One of the redevelopment included modern new sixth form facilities, revolutionary science and computer labs, around 40 new contemporary classrooms and a fitness gym. The second phase included the opening of an exciting new sixth form, a school hall and dining hall and new, ungraded staff facilities.

The final phase completed in 2014 when Christ the King Primary School and Christ the King Parish Church moved onto site. At the heart of the school is a central concourse, formed by utilising an existing 1950s building.

This runs the length of the school and visually and physically links all the elements of the scheme together.

Secondary school teaching accommodation is organised as five faculty based learning houses; each designed to be flexible and interactive, with three double sized classrooms located around a central double height presentation area.

These general learning areas are supported by specialist teaching nodes, including large open plan science laboratories, in and off of the central concourse.

The new school building achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating through the specification of materials with low embodied energy and the use of natural ventilation. The fabric of the existing buildings will be utilised to increase thermal mass, with photovoltaics used to create renewable energy.

The project also included external works, providing sports facilities and MUGA to Sport England standards.

A screwdriver and a wrench. Vector icons for video, mobile apps, Web sites and print projects.    510.5 Apprentice Weeks Created                     ccs-score   40/50 Considerate Constructors Score                     waste-recycled   99.8% Waste Recycled

00_education   29 Career Workshops Completed                      00_hard-hat_one   723.5 Work Opportunity Weeks Created

Key Challenges

The school remained fully operational throughout the new build and refurbishment with key challenges including site segregation and access, safeguarding, communication, protection of the workforce, avoiding disruption, traffic and deliveries and minimising noise and dust.

The new development is located on the site of the existing Catholic school which dates back to 1871 and we worked with the Council and school team to retain as many original features as possible, including highly elaborate styled plasterwork on some walls and ceilings, crested slender windows on the west and east sides and original seating benches in the balcony area.

Thirty percent of the existing historic buildings have been retained and remodelled in agreement with the Council and school and achieved through an extensive programme of design development meetings and engagement sessions.

At the heart of the school is a central concourse, formed by utilising the existing 1950s building. This runs the length of the school and visually and physically links all the elements of the scheme together.

Added Value

The school includes a number of super labs for science teaching. As part of the phasing we provided temporary accommodation for laboratory space, and included features which would mirror the provision being built and refurbished in the main school.

This enabled teaching staff to trial different space configurations in the temporary accommodation and feedback into the design development meetings. The goal was to ensure that the new super labs were designed to fully support the range of teaching styles and learning activities utilised by the school.

Following our appointment on the Blackpool BSF Programme, the Eric Wright Group entered into a strategic partnership with the North West Apprenticeship Company to establish a Blackpool specific Apprenticeship programme with Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA), The Skills Company. We also worked in partnership with Build-up, to provide employment opportunities, supported by training at Blackpool and The Fylde College.


The objectives of the BSF Programme were to:

  • Raise the standard of education across Blackpool and the Fylde Coast
  • Improve Blackpool’s Economic Prosperity (By creating jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for local people)
  • Develop a safe, clean and pleasant place to live and work
  • Improve skill levels and Educational achievement
  • Improve the health and wellbeing of the local population
  • The school has been designed act as an enabler to improved attendance, academic achievement, health, wellbeing, behaviour and sense of worth for the young people of Blackpool.

Client Feedback

“The project team, from the Architects at IBI Nightingale’s to the Constructor’s at Eric Wright Construction have worked incredibly hard over the last four years to deliver this outstanding school campus. It has been a very successful project and one which could only be delivered through a collaborative approach and a positive team ethos; it is a credit all those involved.”
Carl Baker
Assistant Director of Children's Services at Blackpool Council

Client Feedback

“This outstanding partnership of the schools, Blackpool Council and Eric Wright has helped establish a beacon of excellence on the top of Layton Hill. The secondary students and Sixth Form are already benefitting from the new building. I know the primary children and staff will be so excited when they move into their new buildings in September. The future looks bright for both schools.”
Stephen Tierney
Executive Head Teacher at St Mary's Catholic College and Christ the King Catholic Primary School

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Get in Touch

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