Cambridge Uni primary school approved

Marks Barfield’s architectural proposals for the University of Cambridge Primary School have been approved by planning authorities

Designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye, with landscape architects Colour UDL, and located as part of the North West Cambridge Development, the circular form of building for the primary school originated from the educational vision of a democratic, non-hierarchical school that can be divided into smaller communities whilst still forming a united whole. 

The Cambridge-inspired courtyards typology has been interpreted to fit this ethos. The design incorporates classroom clusters, all with direct access to the outside; flexible teaching rooms; shared learning streets; communal areas and covered outdoor learning spaces, all within a stimulating landscape. 

The school will create a democratic learning environment that meets the educational needs of the children and the overall vision of the school as a world-leading education research facility. The school will be the first University Training School at primary level in the UK.

Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield Architects said: “The challenge of finding an architectural expression of the educational vision articulated by the University and its educational expert representatives has been highly stimulating and enjoyable, especially as the school needs to be a shared learning environment for pupils, teachers and researchers.”

Heather Topel, deputy project director for the North West Cambridge Development said: “The primary school will be the first building to open as part of the development in September 2015, the start of the academic year before residents arrive. It will be a natural meeting point for local families and children, and is therefore an important part of building the community at the North West Cambridge Development. We are delighted that the local authorities and neighbours have been supportive of the design proposals for what will be a flagship part of the scheme.” 

The school will be governed by a charitable trust, UTS Cambridge. The school will be a mixed-ability co-educational school for children aged three–11. It will not have a specific religious character, nor a particular faith ethos. 

John Rallison, chair of the UTS Cambridge, said: “The school will be the first primary level university training school in England and it will deliver teaching, teacher-training and educational research. Closely linked to the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education, it will join the well-established network of partner schools which work together to provide a PGCE programme that is rated by Ofsted as outstanding. The school will focus on exemplary teaching, high quality governance and innovative learning practice. The Trust is delighted that these plans have been approved. They are high-quality, innovative and inclusive, reflecting the planned character of University of Cambridge Primary School.” 

The three-form entry primary school will open in phases from September 2015 and will serve the development site and a local catchment. Further information is available at and details of admissions will be available from Autumn 2014. 

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