School Typologies in Essex

Pre-1940s schools

In urban areas the schools were often located on tight sites. In rural parts of Essex the sites were larger and more generous with regard to open space and external play areas. Older schools of Victorian and Edwardian origin are typically Gothic in style with steep gables with plain tile or slate roofs and large timber windows with vertical sliding sashes or top-opening hoppers with distinctive architecture and features such as gables, turrets and cupolas, make them local landmarks. Some are now listed. Schools constructed during the first half of the 20th Century are generally in a style that is neo-Georgian or derived from it. These schools are characterised by detailed red brickwork and symmetrically ordered elevations with timber sliding sash windows with small pane glazing.

Design Considerations - Reference to detailing and character of the particular listed building or the existing school within the setting of a conservation area is particularly important when designing an extension and the principles set out in the examples above would be rigorously applied. If details are copied they should be accurate in scale and proportions rather than a pastiche solution.

Alternatively there may be opportunities for a bespoke contemporary proposal of subservient massing and scale which could complement the existing building rather than copying it.

Mid-20th Century Schools

The new System buildings were designed as open plan buildings with prefabricated materials using standardised components.

The use of standardised components enabled a faster and cheaper construction phase to keep up with demand for places. The materials and available labour skills in these buildings were however relatively poor as was environmental performance because of their thin fabric.

Traditional construction methods were in use as well where the system building would be inappropriate.

Design Considerations - Flat roofed halls are generally only appropriate in the context of a building group and not as a ‘stand-alone’ building. Larger areas of glazing should be used when possible. On elevations the horizontal or vertical emphasis of glazing and panelling should reflect that on the existing school.

Late 20th and Early 21st Century Schools

In the late 1970s and 80s there was a period of constrained public expenditure and the investments in school buildings were generally low. Public-private partnerships such as PFI took place in the period between late 1990s to early 2000.

The construction of schools was not typical of any style or typical form. The school designs used a variety of forms and building materials, often turning their back on the existing school and locality context. On the other hand this new era of school buildings focused on sustainability for the first time which received a positive feedback from teachers, pupils and other stakeholders.

Design Considerations - Mono-pitched halls are generally only appropriate in the context of a building group and not as a ‘stand-alone’ building. It is usually preferable for lower buildings to abut the higher elevation to reduce the negative impact of large wall areas without glazing.

New Communities

Guidance for new schools proposed in large residential developments such as Garden Communities need to consider a variety of alternative principles which will be different to proposals on existing school sites e.g. co-location with other community uses, relationship with strategic pedestrian/cycle routes. EDG Case Study - Beaulieu Park

The Local Planning Authority and County Council will work together to identify where schools are most needed and in accessible locations, community services and green space maximising opportunities for new community facilities and schools to be co-located. See the updated Developer Contributions Guidance for more information.


Page updated: 11/09/2019


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