Hamilton SEN School

  • Client

    Reading Borough Council

    Reading Borough Council

  • Contractor


  • Value



  • Completion Date

    2nd February 2022

    February 2022

Procurement Type:
Two Stage Traditional

Form of Contract:
JCT 2016

Contract Period: 65 weeks

Size: 25,854 sq ft

A cross laminated timber (CLT) frame, specialist education facility for 64 pupils with SEMH (social, emotional, and mental health) needs, catering to students within the age range 11 – 18.

The Challenge

Delivering within budget – RBC required an educational establishment that was robust, delivered on time and within budget. Upon ISG’s appointment, the scheme was £1m over budget.

Collaborative working during the global pandemic – Covid prevented ISG and the client team from co-locating for the entirety of the preconstruction journey.

Maintaining operational continuity of neighbouring Maiden Erlegh School – The site was in close proximity to Maiden Erlegh School, a live educational facility within a busy residential neighbourhood.

Fast track programme – In the scheme, there was an inflexible deadline. It had to be ready by the first day of class for the new academic year.

Soft landings for a student ready space upon occupation – Although the install of the services went well, our Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) contractor encountered challenges while procuring the new transformer for the upgraded supply.

The Solution

Delivering within budget – Upon appointment the project was £1m over budget. ISG worked with Department for Education (DfE) to provide value engineering (VE) expertise without compromising on quality. £600k savings were sourced by DfE, and ISG sourced the remaining £400k through hosting VE workshops. VE items included the façade and a reduced furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) package achieved through collaboration with the client and suppliers. The new specialist education facility at Hamilton SEN School has been shortlisted for the 2022 Civic Building of the Year and SPACES Awards.

Collaborative working during the global pandemic – Despite not being able to co-locate for the duration of the preconstruction period ISG ensured a shared vision was established from day one. A tailored stakeholder and communications plan ensured expectations between RBC and our team were understood and met. We led collaborative online workshops to create a Project Charter which outlined key objectives for the project. Featured on this charter were objectives such as:

  • Engagement with staff, students, and Maiden Erlegh Secondary School
  • Soft landings for a student ready space
  • High quality of finishes

Maintaining operational continuity of neighbouring Maiden Erlegh School – As well as designing our logistics plan around the school to avoid delivery bottle necks during school hours, ISG hosted five site tours for 26 students at the neighbouring Maiden Erlegh Secondary School and Phoenix College. Students were able to witness our works progressing month-to-month and were able to see first-hand how a safe building site was run. We also regularly dropped newsletters to the school advising of our noisy works schedule and letting them know what to expect on the project in the coming months.

Fast track programme – HCC proposed an ‘off-site solution’ for the new build extension. This was constructed from Cross Laminated Timber panels (CLT). The panels were manufactured off-site in Austria and shipped to site, where they were erected with a self-erecting tower crane. The panels simply slotted, interlocked, and then were screwed together to form the structure and roof decks; a textbook example of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). Works progressed from flat slab to ‘completed building’ in two weeks, with a further two weeks of screws and snagging.

Soft landings for a student ready space upon occupation – There was live power to the building, but only 80% of the required capacity. This was sufficient for commissioning not for occupation. With regular site meetings with SSE and manufacturers we were able to increase the capacity locally to allow commissioning and occupation of the new school space.

The Results

  • Delivered the new space within budget thanks to our VE solutions
  • The Project Charter promoted common goals within our integrated project team
  • The neighbouring Maiden Erlegh School reported no disruption during our works, and its students were thrilled to be invited to site to see our works progressing
  • HCC’s design proposal to use CLT for the new build extension promoted good airtightness and in turn reduces operational carbon and cost in the long term.

Air tightness targeted was 5, and we achieved an impressive 1.7. This construction methodology resulted in a programme acceleration resulted in the project being handed over 5 days earlier than planned

  • The building was delivered student ready for occupation



SME Spend


Through VE workshops

Added Value


Client Satisfaction

Client Testimonials

“Thanks for showing around the group from Hamilton School this afternoon. I lost count of the number of times Mandy and Jill [Head teacher and SEMH officer] said ‘Wow’! Not sure which space they were most excited about really; certainly, the life skills and kitchen which will enable pupils to learn more effectively knowing they will be well fed.”

Contractor Performance | Commitments


100% payment within 30 days


HCC’s design proposal to use CLT to promote good airtightness, formed HCC’s drive to reduce carbon. Air tightness targeted was 5, and we achieved an impressive 1.7.

96.2% waste diverted from landfill




2 new apprentices

Supporting 6 existing apprentices

7 jobs created

28 training weeks, 135 apprentice weeks

School visits organised with local School, Maiden Erlegh

£200 raised for Salvation Army Xmas Present Appeal


Handover & Aftercare Contractor Promise

SCF Framework Manager

James Wright 

Email: james.wright@hants.gov.uk  

Phone: 07761 330560