Oundle invests in the future of Engineering and Science
17th December 2014

Oundle School is very pleased to announce it has received a half a million pound donation to launch its fund-raising campaign to complete the final development phase of its SciTec Campus. SciTec, an award-winning and innovative science complex, was opened in 2007 with sixteen state-of-the-art science laboratories.  This second and final phase, incorporating both a brand new Mathematics department and a significant refurbishment of the Patrick Centre, will link Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically. Pupils will be able to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of workable technology, whilst embracing new fields such as nanotechnology and mechatronics.  

This transformational philanthropic gift has come from the Michael Uren Foundation.  Michael Uren OBE and his other Trustees are passionate about seeking to encourage the education of engineers and development of engineering within the UK.  Oundle has long been recognised as one of the foremost science and engineering schools in the country. The heritage of Frederick William Sanderson, Headmaster of Oundle from 1892 – 1922, is of practical, hands-on, machine-driven engineering and throughout most of the last century the School’s DT workshops were home for part of every term for every pupil. This reputation of engineering success remains strong; many pupils who attended the School because of such aspirations have gone on to become the technological leaders of their generation.


One of Michael’s principal objectives is to help to create the engineers and entrepreneurs of the future and his donation for the SciTec Campus reflects his support for the School’s vision which is to provide state-of-the-art facilities for tomorrow’s engineers. The SciTec project has now reached the fund-raising stage and he hopes that his donation will start the ball rolling, enabling works to commence in early 2015 and be completed by summer 2016.

Michael Uren said, “This wonderfully exciting project places Oundle where it should be - one of the foremost engineering schools in the country. The UK needs engineers and entrepreneurs if it is to compete and succeed in the future.  We are delighted that my Foundation can assist Oundle to achieve its fund-raising dreams of completing the SciTec Campus and enhancing the Patrick Engineering Centre.”

Michael Uren, a graduate of Imperial College in Mechanical Engineering, founded Civil and Marine Ltd and built it into the UK's foremost producer of marine aggregates, and then followed this up by developing the manufacture of cement from a by-product of the iron and steel industry. In the process Michael created one of the largest deep sea dredging companies in the world, transporting up to four and a half million tonnes of marine aggregates per year from the bed of the North Sea to the coastlines of Northern Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and the East Coast of England, where the sand and gravel was washed and screened, and sold to the ready mix concrete companies of those five countries. At its height, five of these deep sea dredgers were at work in the North Sea, thereby saving some 600 acres of prime farmland per annum being excavated on shore for the extraction of sand and gravel.

The Cement Company, which Michael founded in 1980, was also highly successful, eventually producing up to two and a half million tonnes of Slag Cement per year in five plants in the UK alone (amounting to 17% of the entire UK cement market), in addition to one in the Czech Republic, and the first such plant ever in the USA. These plants produced this cement at an energy consumption of only 20% of that of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC), coupled with a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions, which in the UK alone saved over two million tonnes of CO2 being discharged into the atmosphere per annum, thereby reducing the effects of  global warming. In addition to these environmental benefits, concrete produced from slag cement has a far lower heat of hydration than OPC, which leads to less cracking occurring in the finished structure.  Furthermore, slag cement concrete has a far tighter pore structure than OPC concrete, leading to a major reduction in its permeability, which in turn restricts the ingress of water, chlorides, and other chemicals, thereby increasing the durability of the concrete and its effective life span. Slag cement concrete also remains much whiter than OPC concrete, and is therefore more aesthetically pleasing.  

Alongside this, Michael is already regarded as one of the UK's most generous philanthropists in the fields of medical research, education, the armed forces and conservation of wildlife.

Architects, van Heyningen and Haward have been appointed to design and produce the new SciTec Campus for the School which includes a new Mathematics department and two new science project rooms adjacent to the current Biology and Chemistry laboratories. This will enable experiments and projects to be carried out over a longer time-frame than is currently possible and will bring particular benefits for pupils working on Extended Project Qualifications.

The extensive refurbishment and re-design of the Patrick Engineering Centre will offer additional facilities and opportunities. The current ‘large projects’ space for which Oundle is famous will be retained but relocated, and a design laboratory for prototyping and design work will be created, acoustically segregated from the practical facilities.  A ‘clean laboratory’ will be provided adjacent to the design laboratory, enabling high-tech processes such as 3D printing and robotics to be deployed.  In addition to the large projects space, there will be four open-plan workshop bays that will enable pupils to be taught in small groups whilst sharing fixed machinery, as well as two new dedicated classrooms for design and theory that will be easily accessible.

Headmaster, Charles Bush commented, “Engineering is the lifeblood of Oundle’s history and heritage. The School must continue to inspire pupils to become engineers to carry on the tradition for the good of the nation. The future of science and engineering will involve the blurring of disciplines and the aim of the SciTec campus is to enable young minds to think with an increasingly interdisciplinary focus which will help them succeed at university and in industry.”

He added, ”We are immensely grateful for the enthusiasm of all those, including Michael Uren, who share our vision to secure the future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Oundle, not only for our pupils but for British industry as a whole.”

In addition to Academic Scholarships, the School offers two Scholarships for Design and Technology, one at 13+ and one at 16+. Entry forms and further details are available on the admissions section of the School website: .

Further details about the development can be found on the School’s website: under ‘Development Plans’.


Background Information on Oundle School

Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.

The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.

There are currently 1110 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11. 

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