Feb 16, 2019 Last Updated 2:53 PM, Feb 5, 2019

Adopting a rapid approach to the school place crisis

Published in Education
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The UK’s school place crisis means that thousands of children will soon face not having a secondary school to go to unless swift action is taken. Here, Rodney Davidson at AG (Acheson + Glover) discusses the role that rapid build products can play in meeting the urgent need for extra classroom space quickly, within tight budgets to a standard that will stand the test of time well into the future.


According to a recent analysis of Department for Education figures and local pupil forecasts by the Local Government Association, more than 125,000 children face missing out on a secondary school place by 2022/23. Amongst other factors, a significant increase in recorded birth rates has been shown to play a role. To successfully tackle the crisis, it is crucial that schools within the most severely affected areas expand their pupil capacity to prevent classrooms becoming dangerously overpopulated.

Expansion projects within education often prove complex due to tight budget constraints as well as the ongoing need for schools to remain operational for as long as possible to ensure minimal disruption to the curriculum and academic performance. This is where rapid build products can be incredibly useful due to their ability to save time through quicker installation and reduced downtime.

What are rapid build products?

Rapid build products are construction products that have been innovatively created to act as efficient alternatives to their traditional counterparts. For example, in response to increased demand across the public and private sector for a brick product that was quicker to install compared to traditional bricks and was unaffected by external factors such as the weather and UK’s current bricklayer shortage, AG began producing and supplying NovaBrik.

A mortarless brick slip system, it is incredibly strong, non-combustible and resistant to freeze-thaw cycles. In fact, laboratory testing has proven it to be as waterproof as a roof tile – an added bonus in light of the UK’s unpredictable weather. Another benefit of this rapid build product is that it is fully recyclable and virtually maintenance-free. In the current climate where classrooms are in short supply, rapid build products provide a fantastic alternative.

Enhanced standards

Rapid build products are often designed, produced and tested within strictly controlled state-of-the-art factory and laboratory environments. This gives added reassurance to buyers – for example, we work hard to ensure that NovaBrik is fully tested with fire rating, freeze-thaw resistance and impact abrasion. This helps ensure the building’s integrity as well as the long-term safety of pupils.

Taking things off-site

These rapid brick slip systems can be installed externally to pre-fabricated steel or timber frame structures, making it possible to produce the majority of the school building off-site. This is especially useful within education, where great emphasis is placed on maintaining day-to-day term-time activity. In fact, most schools aim to complete expansion projects during holiday periods, something which is much more realistic with rapid build products.

Improving efficiencies

Rapid build brick slip systems can also be retrofitted to extend the lifespan of existing school buildings/cabins, which helps improve thermal properties of school building – in turn, reducing heating bills and increasing efficiency. Furthermore, they can improve acoustic properties and listening conditions of the rooms within the building, by effectively controlling the amount of sound travelling from outside in.

Building a brighter future

The rapid build product market provides reliable solutions that effectively meet increased demand within education for high-quality products at realistic prices that are superior compared to their traditional counterparts. Although the UK appears to be on the brink of a classroom crisis, through continued innovation, providers can, and will, continue to help tackle the issue and effectively safeguard school places for pupils well into the future.



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