St. Francis Primary School

A new building shines a new light on education

The sky is the limit at the new primary school in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight

The old school wasn’t the best environment for the young pupils at St. Francis Primary. Constructed in the 1950s the buildings were originally designed for secondary students with the windows positioned for taller students so it was difficult for the younger pupils to enjoy the beautiful outside landscape.

In 2010 the local authority approved plans to build a new school, and after three years of planning and construction the doors opened in February 2013. The new school includes 33 longlights of VELUX Modular Skylights. Head Teacher Angela Hewkin is enthusiastic remarking that the new interior represents a leap into the future: “We now have a truly 21st century feel to the school.”

A school filled with bright ideas

Research shows that a child’s ability to gather and process knowledge vastly improves when they are taught in a bright and ventilated environment. Since the opening, Angela Hewkin has made her own observations, which is drawing the same findings as the research.

“It’s a good learning environment and the children appreciate the light space and the climate control, which provides a comfortable atmosphere, whatever the weather – hot or cold. We now have a growing, changing school, and I am impressed with the learning outcomes. Children do seem to be more alert in the classrooms towards the end of the day, especially when we have hot summer weather. The air seems a lot clearer.”

Angela also noticed that the absenteeism rate seems to be better with fewer pupils absent due to sickness. “Attendance has improved since the new building opened, but this isn’t just down to the changes, although I’m sure it has had an influence. Feedback from new parents’ open days tells us that they do want their children to come to the school.”

A real transformation

60 years is a long time in educational thinking, and the new buildings in Newport Road couldn’t be more different from the old school. Head Teacher Angela Hewkin has been involved in the design process from the start, and she is delighted by the results. 

“The main difference is the light and spaciousness within. The old buildings were darker and less welcoming. We really appreciate the light-filled airy surroundings and now it’s an air-conditioned environment, which works brilliantly whatever the weather. It cools down when it’s hot and remains warm when it’s cold outside.”

Angela Hewkin, Head Teacher (left) at the St. Francis Primary School with Jade Kennett, Principal Officer from the Local Authority planning department on the Isle of Wight

"Our new light-filled and climate-controlled building will have a lasting effect on all those who share in our wonderful new school.

Leontina Barreto,Aarchitect

Students can now enjoy the natural daylight and views from the school's windows

Facts about the project

The planning phase 

  • Planning began in March 2010.
  • The installation started in June 2012, and was completed during the rest of June and July.

Parties involved in the project 

  • The construction group included HNW Architects, Willmott Dixon as main contractor, Southern Industrial Roofing as sub contractor/installer with assistance from VELUX technicians.
  • BJ Smith of Willmott Dixon led the building project.
  • Guy Rutherford of Southern Industrial Roofing led the skylight installation.

The solution

  • 34 modular skylights of 675 mm x 1200 mm. 
  • 48 modular skylights of 800 mm x 1200 mm. 
  • 82 in total - of which 41 are venting. 
  • All modules have integrated blinds. 
  • 9° roof pitch.

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