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Designing net zero for pupil wellbeing

Education By Paul Sperring, Associate Director – 31 May 2023

Bright hallway with children walking through it.


Paul in a grey blazer and ppink shirt with the office blurred in the background

Paul Sperring

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Paul Sperring, Associate Director and Project Lead of Beormund Primary School, has created a net zero school catering for the social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs of the schools’ pupils.

Working with architect Cullinan Studio, Cundall is responsible for the building services, acoustics, sustainability, and fire engineering design of the new school for 56 students, which is to be constructed in the London Borough of Southwark, on the site of the former Bellenden School. It will replace the current school’s premises in Bermondsey.

The brief was to provide a calm, tranquil and welcoming environment that would cater for the practical needs and wellbeing of pupils and staff. Equally challenging, was the requirement for the school to be net zero carbon, in line with Southwark’s target to be a carbon neutral borough by 2030.

Our starting point in developing the design was engagement with the school. ‘We talked to the teaching staff, teaching support staff, the head teacher and the
caretaker responsible for looking after the premises; it was important because it gave us a detailed insight and understanding of what was needed for staff and pupils,’ states Paul Sperring. SEMH pupils are generally taught by three teaching staff in classes of no more than eight pupils. Paul took into consideration when meeting the staff was that they wanted manual control over the services in each classroom. ‘They didn’t want things like windows opening automatically, because they knew that would distract the children,’ he says.

Paul Sperring, Associate Director, and Project Lead says, "Children with social, emotional, and mental health [SEMH] needs have often been overlooked, so it is great that this is being addressed with the design and construction of a new site for Beormund Primary School."

Cundall is incredibly proud to be part of this rewarding project, developing a net-zero school creating a standard for future SEND schools in England.