President Kennedy sixth form block, Coventry

Nurturing tomorrow’s talent

Students at one of Coventry’s most successful schools are thriving in their new, state-of-the-art post-16 block. In the shadow of the pandemic, BAM adapted its working practices to deliver the building on time and to a high quality.

Project details

  • Customer: Coventry City Council
  • Architects: Lucas Architects
  • Project value: £5.25 million
  • Project completed: Spring 2022

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The President Kennedy School in Coventry is committed to improving the life chances of all its students, and is proud of its ‘no barriers’ approach, which allows students to flourish academically.

With the number of potential students in the area expected to continue growing, Coventry City Council and The Futures Trust – the multi-academy trust to which the school belongs – decided to invest in a new, dedicated building for post-16 education on the site.  

The contract for the build was awarded to BAM in late 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The 38-week construction programme brought with it some unprecedented challenges: not least, remote collaboration with a new client. 

But the new way of working was embraced by the client team and BAM alike, with everyone involve going the extra mile to deliver for the students. BAM adapted its on and off-site processes to ensure safe and successful delivery, on time for the new school year. 


Natural advantages

The building, designed by Lucas Architects, sits sympathetically within the school’s edge-of-greenfield setting and is oriented to maximise natural light. 

The structure uses tactile and sustainable materials, inside and out. Beautifully grained wood features strongly on the interior: particularly the striking central staircase with its rounded-edge handrails lit by a row of dramatic skylights.

Beneath the attractive but practical finishes lies a lightweight rolled steel frame with composite deck on the first floor. A metal deck is supported on purlins at roof level, and incorporates roof lights and solar photovoltaic panels.

BAM used its extensive experience of designing school and educational buildings to add value while still preserving the unique design, working closely with the supply chain and project consultants. For instance, BAM’s in-house geotechnical engineer reworked the design to reduce the depth of the foundation formation level, saving around £50,000 for the customer and shortening the build programme by two weeks.

Challenging times

The new building is close to operational areas of the existing school. Access to the site was through a residential area, and at the time of the build there were two other contractors working next door. 

BAM’s team used 3D modelling to plan for safe access and efficient working throughout the build. By facilitating and contributing to positive working relationships, BAM played a pivotal role in ensuring the successful delivery of all the Trust’s projects on the site.

The already tight construction programme was put under severe pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic. But again BAM took a collaborative approach, using BIM 360 software to ensure efficient completion and handover processes. This meant that the school could confidently plan to move into a fully functional, tried and tested building on day one. 

Extending facilities

During the main build, the client also awarded BAM a new contract to create a multi-use games area (MUGA) next to the sixth form block, safe in the knowledge that this change wouldn’t compromise the delivery of the new building. 

The new MUGA means that students have access to even better sports facilities alongside the high quality teaching spaces.

Rooted in the community

During the project, BAM placed over £1 million in orders for goods and services with local businesses and created ten employment opportunities for people living in the region. 

The site team also devoted over 50 hours to support virtual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sessions for 46 students at three local schools. BAM volunteers worked with four different community organisations and social enterprises across Warwickshire.

A winning outcome

Nicola Poole, who at the time was Project Manager for the build at Coventry City Council, summed up the positive reception that the building received: “I wanted to be around on the first day the building was open for use by students and staff. I experienced first hand their excitement and awe! The building is, without doubt, the best post-16 provision in Coventry.”

The project was shortlisted for Best New College Building in the Education Estates Awards 2022. 

“We are delighted with the new Post 16 building at President Kennedy School. This purpose-built space has been delivered to a fantastic specification and has provided high quality learning spaces for our students and staff. Working with BAM was easy, as their professionalism and communication was excellent.”

Neil Clayton

former Head Teacher, President Kennedy School