Company News

10 March 2017

Scarborough UTC

Scarborough University Technical College (UTC) is one of a wave of newly built schools that were introduced as part of the Academies programme. UTCs differ from traditional secondary schools in several key areas, most prominently in their particular focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and in their close links with a sponsor University.  

This study programme is 40% practical and 60% academic, and gives students the opportunity to work on four to five specialist projects alongside sponsor employers such as McCain, Unison and GCHQ, enabling them to be ‘work ready’ and more employable when they leave.  

Completed and opened in September 2016, Scarborough UTC caters for 600 pupils between the ages of 14-19, and operates a close working relationship with lead academic sponsor The University of Hull. As part of the development of the site, the school invited three companies to pitch their vision for how they would furnish the school.  

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As part of British Thornton’s submission, the company designed a full 3D rendering of the building’s interior to allow school decision makers to fully visualise how the new, fully furnished building would look. Following this process, British Thornton was asked to provide a complete loose and fixed furniture solution to the entire school. In total, 194 separate types of item, and 7,459 pieces in total, were provided to the building at a cost of £350,000.  

In order to reflect the school’s focus on science, technology and engineering, British Thornton devised a plan to provide furniture that was both stylish and modern, whilst remaining flexible and functional. Of course, such furniture is an asset to any school, but is particularly valuable to a UTC where classrooms need to perform a range of specialised functions. 

During this process, British Thornton was able to rely on its vast experience in working with both newly built schools and in designing bespoke furniture to meet special technical requirements. This meant several members of the design team already had an innate understanding of the particular requirements of technology-based classrooms. This attention to detail and commitment to providing the best solution at the first opportunity paid off, with the outcome of the project winning praise from teaching staff. 

In particular, British Thornton’s use of innovative products to solve key challenges means the classroom environment is enjoyable and easy to use for staff and students alike. For instance, the design and provision of desks with in-built variable voltage allows users to simply alter the power level of plug sockets in the tables. This allows for the use of a variety of sensitive technical instruments in one location, which otherwise would have to be used in pre-determined sockets around the room. This flexibility may seem a simple addition, but in everyday work is a hugely valuable time-saving feature. 

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In addition, the company designed furniture for innovative ‘teardrop’ shaped labs, which place the teacher in the centre of the room with students’ workbenches arranged around them. This approach allows the teacher to be close by to each student at all times, with obvious safety benefits, and for students to easily ask teachers questions and to demonstrate these with the practical equipment in use. 

In addition to this specialised equipment, British Thornton also provided furniture across the rest of the school which was designed to still fit in with the modern and hi-tech aesthetic. Moreover, while less technical, this furniture still features innovative designs. For instance, the tessellate table produced by the company is an interlinking series of tables which quickly allow students and teachers to alter the configuration of the desk in accordance with the task at hand. The students of the UTC made it their own through the design sessions held with British Thornton where they chose the colours of the loose furniture.  

Tim Englefield, Principal of Scarborough UTC, said:

The challenge of selecting suitable high quality furniture for a new build should not be underestimated. Having the opportunity to visit both the factory as well as other schools who British Thornton has worked with was invaluable. The end solution is excellent with the teaching walls in particular being appreciated by the academic staff. At all stages during the process, British Thornton have been supportive and have accommodated all of our requests however nonstandard they may be!