Aylesbury Vale Academy and Berryfields Primary School

Outstanding schools for a new community

Situated across the road from the new Berryfields residential development on the outskirts of Aylesbury, the new Aylesbury Vale Academy and Berryfields Primary and Nursery had to be as shiny as the new neighbourhood.  

An Academy with innovation at its heart

At the centre of the three-storey Aylesbury Vale Academy is a dynamic enclosed atrium space, which takes advantage of the project’s innovative ventilation system.

The Academy, which specialises in Science and Technology with ICT, is organised around this central heart or ‘innovation space’. Each of the Academy’s three colleges has a dedicated wing coming off it. There is also a terracotta-clad Learning Resource Centre.

The new building accommodates 1,500 students aged from 11 to 18.

Project details

  • Client: Buckinghamshire County Council

  • Contractor: BAM Construction

  • Architect: Nicholas Hare Architects LLP

  • Structural engineer: BAM Design

  • M&E consultants: BAM Design

  • IT advisor: Turner & Townsend

  • Value: £29m build and £300,000/annum facilities management contract

  • BREEAM rating: Very Good

  • Size: 12,246m2 Aylesbury Vale Academy, 3,637m2 Berryfields Primary School

  • Build completition: August 2013

  • Facilities management start: September 2013Contract Type: Design & Build – via EFA Contractors Framework

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1,500 Fact icon students at Aylesbury Vale Academy
57.1% Fact icon BREEAM Very Good
3 Fact icon year Facilities management contract
472 Fact icon pupils at Berryfields Primary

A state-of-the-art primary school

The plan of the primary school is in the form of an ‘L’ that follows the edge of the site and offers protection to the playground. The Primary School accommodates 420 pupils.

In addition the building contains a 52-place nursery, an independent children’s centre and a suite of community rooms including an IT centre, a kitchenette and rooms for adult learning and social activities.


Shared facilities for maximum efficiency

Sponsored by the Church of England Diocese of Oxford and Buckinghamshire County Council, we also had to ensure the new schools made the most of the plot, while meeting the Education Framework Agency budget. To achieve this, we carefully thought out what facilities could be shared, and which were specific to each school.

We designed a swale at the front of the school to aid drainage of the site, avoiding other expensive solutions, and also providing one of several outdoor learning environments. Both schools have access to outdoor teaching spaces under covered canopies, with flexible seating. Berryfields has an outdoor playing pirate ship, which we commissioned, and the academy is home to a 240-seat outdoor amphitheatre for performances, teaching and informal social gatherings.

With sustainability and efficiency in mind, we challenged the first design of the sports pitches to make best use of the site. We levelled the site, laid down earth tubes to produce natural heat for the buildings, and then built and seeded the sports pitches in May 2012 to ensure the school could use them for opening in September 2013. Now both the primary and academy boast their own outdoor sports facilities for formal sports lessons, and can also be hired out for community use.

Both the Primary School and the Academy have their own outdoor sports facilities that can also be hired out for community use.
“BAM FM sought at an early stage to understand our ethos, objectives and priorities and translate this into a service that recognised our needs. As a provider, they played a key role in addressing the challenges which immediately face any school on occupying a brand new site. BAM FM have maintained dialogue with the Academy throughout the start-up period and their staff are closely engaged with the day to day operations in a beneficial working relationship.’

Hans Copas

Finance Director

Sustainable to the core

Drawing on BAM’s design, construction and services engineering departments, we developed all mechanical, electrical and renewable energy sources to provide the complete site, with a wood pellet biomass plant and solar photovoltaic panels on the roof to cover both areas. The commercial benefits to the academy from harnessing the earth’s natural resources will be felt for years to come through government grants, reduced running costs and electrical feed-in tariffs. The building achieved a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.

Students can now learn about sustainable living from the way the building has been designed and built, and from the way it operates. They can see how much energy it is using via monitors in the reception area, which can be integrated with the ICT, to support curriculum learning.

A soft landing at handover

BAM’s construction team worked closely with our facilities management team at all stages of the project to provide a soft landing aftercare service for the client. Before construction, our facilities management division worked out whole life operational costs and a maintenance plan to inform our design and build proposal. Our FM team set up a helpdesk service to identify, record and manage the process of de-snagging during the 12 months defects period. We also helped familiarise building users with its systems at handover stage.

Thanks to this integrated approach, BAM FM was awarded a three year contract to operate and maintain the buildings, and are now delivering caretaking, security, helpdesk, cleaning, grounds maintenance, waste management, pest control, utilities and services maintenance.