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One year on for Exeter maths school's transformation

South West maths students benefit from 'homely' learning environment

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 16, 2015 | Facilities management

Exeter Mathematics School is celebrating its first anniversary and a 100% pass rate for students’ AS levels. The 18th century former private residence was transformed inside and out by main contractor Kier Construction and South West firm The Architects Design Group (ADG) into a modern teaching space.

Thirty-four students have now completed their first year at the sixth form school, with all passing their Maths and Physics AS levels and preparing for A levels next summer. Around 60 more students from across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset are due to join in September. 

The 18th century Grade II*-listed city centre site had been empty for several years when Kier Construction appointed ADG to lead the design team, turning the building into a new school for the South West’s most gifted 16-19 year-old mathematicians. 

The school now contains personal study spaces, flexible teaching rooms, a science laboratory and library as well as offices. The interiors include a number of unusual design features, including walls that students can write on, colourful furniture including beanbags, and teaching spaces that can quickly be re-sized by moving screens. 

ADG designed a modern extension, which houses a new stairwell and lift for the four-storey building. 

Transformed in just 12 months, Rougemont House was named Heritage Project of the Year at the Michelmores Property Awards 2015

Headteacher of Exeter Mathematics School, Kerry Burnham, said: “When we set about creating the school, we wanted somewhere we could work differently with our students. We take a student-led approach, enabling pupils to learn in the way that best suits them, and we also encourage group work. This means we need a variety of different spaces with their own facilities and atmosphere. 

“It’s a state-of-the-art building that feels more like home than a school. And that’s helping to bring out the best in our students.”

The Plymouth-based ADG team, assisted by Conservation Architect Jeremy Chadburn, drew on their experience of working on historic buildings to progress the designs through planning consultations and onto site, enabling the building to open its doors to its first students in September 2014.

ADG Architectural Designer, Dale Beeson, said: “Rougemont House is a Grade II* building located adjacent to a scheduled ancient monument, so developing the building from start to finish in a year meant a tight turnaround and could have been very tricky.

“We wanted to strike a balance between meeting the needs of a forward-looking school and enhancing the beauty of the 18th century architecture. It’s been a privilege to breathe new life into this beautiful building and play a part in establishing such a fantastic facility for young people in the region.” 

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