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High School Leckhampton

Cheltenham, UK



A new mixed comprehensive school designed to inspire students

High School Leckhampton, our 900-place secondary school in Cheltenham, is a flagship project for the local area demonstrating the Council’s commitment to reaching zero carbon emissions.

The 7,900 m2 net zero carbon in operation school creates an inspiring teaching and learning environment, where pupils are encouraged to achieve their full potential. Our landscape-led design respects the surrounding environment on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), incorporating natural materials, careful massing and sympathetic landscaping.



Reflecting the school’s curriculum and aspirations

A prominent feature of Leckhampton Hill, on a cherished section of greenfield land, the school is strongly connected to and intertwined with the community. Throughout the design development, community consultation was essential to recognise and address their needs and aspirations.

With two wings of teaching accommodation surrounding an external courtyard, a large 450-seat main hall with bleacher seating and extensive sporting facilities. These include a four court sports hall, all weather pitch, grass football and rugby pitches, running pitch, cricket wicket and a multi use games area.

The school sits at a low elevation within its surroundings, seamlessly blending with residential neighbours and the rural landscape beyond. When approached from the north, the building complements its surroundings, while from the south, it remains hidden from view.

Fostering a harmonious relationship between urban and rural land, our site plan creates a tranquil environment. Vehicles and external activity sit on the busier northern side of the site, away from the protected heart of the school and playing fields.

Our use of bronzed metal cladding, on the northern side, creates larger volume spaces with a sense of fun and freedom. More masonry with a strong window pattern rhythm is used in the teaching spaces of the courtyard to reflect the school's pedagogy, ideals and aspirations for its students.

Timber panelling was chosen to complement the brick features and bring out significant points of the building. This includes the main entrance, community entrance, main hall, staff room and learning resource centre.


The path to achieving net zero carbon

Led by the Council’s aspirations, sustainability formed a key part of the project brief to achieve net zero carbon in operation. We undertook an optioneering process, creating multiple variations of our design to identify the best option for energy reduction across orientation, fabric, lighting, air tightness and ventilation.

Developed using sustainable design principles, we integrated air source heat pumps for natural ventilation, high levels of insulation to reduce temperature fluctuations and glazing creating an abundance of natural light.

Helping to boost focus, productivity and wellbeing for students and staff, we created an energy management policy for continual monitoring, feedback and improvement in the school’s energy usage.

The school has a certified EPC of A+ and DEC A, powered entirely by onsite renewables with a 1,500 m2 photovoltaic array. An energy assessment was carried out in line with Approved Document L of the Building Regulations, in which our design demonstrated a carbon emission rating improvement of 26% over the necessary requirements.

F13rs038 LR


Encouraging collaborative indoor and outdoor learning

Our design respects the sensitive setting of the AONB, creating a landscape where everyone can create lifelong memories. Integral to the entire school design, the wider landscape character considers the existing context of the site, levels, constraints and views.

Led by topography, the site is split into three sections of terraces – the sports fields and the all weather pitch inhabit the higher two terraces, with the building sitting in the lowest area with good access levels to the local road and pathways.

Informal hard courtyard areas and an external covered dining area encourage socialising, alongside informal soft landscaped areas which provide year round seasonal interest and support outdoor learning.

key information

Project summary


Cheltenham, GL53 8QF


Gloucestershire County Council






Net zero carbon in operation


7,900 m 2


900 pupil places
450 seat main hall
Four court sports hall
All weather pitch
Fitness suite


Michelmores Property Awards 2023
Winner - Education Project of the Year

Michelmores Property Awards 2023
Shortlisted - Building of the Year


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