Berkhamsted Group | 04.03.2021

New Sixth Form: a vision turning into a reality for Berkhamstedians

New Sixth Form: a vision turning into a reality for Berkhamstedians

A new Sixth Form Centre on Castle Campus will provide state-of the-art education facilities for generations of Berkhamsted students.   

The development will bring students together, providing a first-rate learning centre designed with preparing students for the future in mind. Thpriority is to create space and an enhanced environment on one site to benefit future Sixth Form cohorts rather than a scheme to increase student numbers.  

Awardwinning architects Design Engine, who specialise in education and business, have worked with our expert estate Development Director and leadership team to ensure the Castle Campus retains its status as world-class school site for students aged 11-18.  

Construction is due to start in Autumn 2021 and the new Sixth Form Centre is expected to be fully in use by Michaelmas term 2023 

Values-led design

The design of the new building is a reflection of the three School values: 

  • Aiming high with integrity: The most ambitious and innovative development on site to date in order to enable students to learn as effectively as possible and realise their potential. 
  • Be adventurous:  A bold and innovative design which will help students prepare for the future world of university and/or work whilst maintaining the architectural sensitivity of the School’s historic surroundings. 
  • Serving others: A project that has gained support from the community. Changes enabled to the Castle site are designed to benefit more than just our students. 

Creating a positive impact on the community is a School priority and we aim to continue our contribution to the area. 

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With 750 employees and £4.5m in yearly tax contributions at the moment, this development will help the School to continue to contribute to the economic success of Dacorum Borough.

The development has been designed to allow for more availability of existing facilities, such as the recently refurbished Deans’ Hall for School and community use.

A building for the future

Sixth Form students will benefit from a spacious learning environment with recreational spaces which are more aligned with the next stage of their life whether that be university or the workplace.

By creating specific zones within the building, the design will provide not only first-rate classrooms for interactive learning, but also areas for focused independent study, for collaborative work, for researching future career and university options, and for socialisng over a cup of coffee.

“This is an incredibly exciting and ambitious project for Berkhamsted School which will benefit the students and the local community. Having a state-of-the-art Sixth Form Centre will allow students to thrive and enjoy their interactions with their learning, with each other and with staff. It will provide them with the ideal environment to further develop the skills and character strengths that will enable them to go on not only to do well, but also to do good in the world beyond Berkhamsted  said Head of the Sixth Form, Martin Walker.  

Community consultation

A major review and consultation process took place throughout 2020. Dacorum Borough Council approved the final plans in February 2021. The initial ideas and detailed designs which were based on feedback from current students, stakeholders and local residents were created by Bidwells, one of the UK’s most reputable property consultancy firms.

New Sixth Form features and facts

A workshop including students, academic staff and consultants helped drive the design and features of the building which contribute to its sustainability.

Features are to include:

A versatile space on the first floor which can convert between classrooms and an exam space. This is a unique feature and has been incorporated following research that students perform better in examinations if they are taken in familiar surroundings.

Social learning café – The café doubles as a social learning space and has been designed to encourage teachers and students to mix in the way they would in a university.

State-of-the-art teaching and meeting rooms more akin to a work environment than a traditional school classroom.

A wildflower meadow quad, providing a natural and tranquil outside space which will help to benefit student mental wellbeing and provide a quiet place to take breaks.

Architectural sensitivity

A critical element of the project has been to respect the historic architecture of Castle Campus which dates back to 1541.

The impact on each building has been rigorously assessed against local conversation criteria. The demolition of Wilson House, Cox’s and the Estates Building will make space for the new Sixth Form. Whilst these buildings from the last century did previously contribute to the School’s growth, they have been judged to have no historical significance and their aesthetics negatively impact the surroundings in their current state.

In addition to the construction of the new centre, buildings such as the adjacent Tudor building will be restored and improved.


The new School building will incorporate the latest sustainability measures to ensure a high-quality, energy and resource-efficient building that meets both local and national ambitions for sustainable development. Key features of this plan are:

• Use of passive, natural strategies for lighting, ventilation and cooling within the new building.

• Installation of a ground and/or air source heating circuit.

• Photovoltaics to generate energy from the sun.

• Green roof covered with vegetation to increase local biodiversity.

• Part of an ongoing long-term strategy to reduce motorised vehicles on Castle site.

Sustainability Strategy

Construction details

  • Stage 4 technical design: completed by July 2021
  • Tender process: between July and December
  • Demolition phase: early 2022
  • Construction will start early in 2022 and completes in the Spring/ Summer of 2023
  • Fully operation from September 2023

The site is largely self-contained in the South West corner of the Campus, with site access from the Tesco car park. A detailed construction phase management plan will be implemented which will include measures designed to minimise the impact of normal school operations and to ensure that students’ learning can continue without interruption.

Community Quotes

Submitted 16 December 2020: “I am writing to express our support for this proposal. It has been very carefully considered and the requirements of the new Sixth Form Centre have clearly been addressed within what will be a very attractive and inspiring building. We believe the proposal will significantly enhance the appearance of this part of the School site and also provide an excellent setting for the historic buildings nearby.

Berkhamsted School has been an important part of the town for hundreds of years. It continues to make a significant contribution to the local economy and community and its facilities and commercial appeal should be supported and encouraged.” 

Submitted 30 November 2020 “The design is complementary to the surrounding buildings and landscape and will allow a more open view of the beautiful existing architecture of the School. The purpose of the building will provide a very much needed modern facility for the whole Sixth form, and allow for significant improvements in the teaching, learning and personal development of the young people who will attend from many of the surrounding areas. It will be a great asset with no detrimental effect on the existing use of space or the environment.” 

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