On 5th October 2016, HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO officially opened the completion of Oundle School’s SciTec vision, which encompasses a new Mathematics Department, Science project rooms and the newly extended and refurbished Patrick Engineering Centre.
SciTec, an award winning and ground-breaking science complex with sixteen state-of-the-art laboratories, originally opened in 2007. This latest development, which has focused on uniting the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), will position Oundle at the heart of applying Science and Engineering and embrace developments in new fields such as nanotechnology and mechatronics. The aim is to provide ‘practical hands-on experience’, with pupils able to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of workable technology.
Head of Oundle School, Sarah Kerr-Dineen, commented, “Oundle’s SciTec vision has always been about creating the best possible learning environment for our pupils and promoting the intellectual passion of those who teach them. Bright children learn by making connections: they do not learn subjects in isolation. These facilities, which brings together Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both philosophically and physically, will inspire children to make these connections. We hope that, thanks to SciTec and all that happens within it, the pupils of today – and not only Oundelians – will become the engineers, inventors and innovators of the future.”
SciTec, a facility designed to nurture the UK’s next generation of great scientists and engineers, puts Oundle, which lists evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins and astronomer and space scientist Dr Roger Malina among its former pupils, at the forefront of the continuing national drive to produce top quality scientists and engineers. The original Design and Technology department has been extended and exhaustively refurbished, retaining the ‘large projects’ space for which Oundle is famous and adding two design studios for virtual modelling and prototype development, acoustically segregated from the practical facilities. There is now an advanced manufacturing suite adjacent to the design laboratory, enabling high-tech processes such as metallic/UV cured polymer 3D printing and robotics to be deployed. In addition to the large projects space, five open-plan workshop bays enable pupils to be taught in small groups sharing fixed machinery, whilst new dedicated classrooms for design and theory are easily accessible from the workshops.
As envisaged in the original SciTec design, the new Mathematics department forms the major part of the extension to the SciTec building, completing the architectural aspiration of a grand entrance to SciTec. An internal quadrangle has been created, giving equal status to all disciplines as well as a proper regard to the Adamson Centre opposite, encouraging an interplay between Modern Languages and Science. The extension also provides two new science project rooms adjacent to the current Biology and Chemistry laboratories, enabling experiments and projects to be carried out over a longer time-frame than was currently possible. This will bring particular benefits for pupils working on Extended Project Qualifications (EPQs).
A working link with Imperial College, London which will use the Oundle facilities as a regional hub for future STEM activities with local schools, as well as the engagement of research scientists to work alongside teachers, underscores the facility’s status as a beacon for the teaching of Science and Engineering.
SciTec’s environmental architecture is also of note. It is constructed of concrete, aluminium, glass, oak, and local stone cladding – a combination of Ancaster Weatherbed and Clipsham stone – and much of the spoil from digging the original foundations was used to level an adjacent playing field. The building incorporates a sedum roof, solar thermal panels to provide hot water and passive infra-red detectors to control the energy used for lighting. A 560sqm lake exists to provide a gray-water facility as well as a habitat for flora and fauna and for use in academic study.
Chairman of Governors, Julian Tregoning commented, “Today was a very proud day for Oundle. We marked the official opening of an outstanding facility that has evolved from the efforts of many, including Oundle staff, industry experts, architects, engineers, builders, planners and of course our generous donors. Pupils are now able to work seamlessly, drawing from scientific fundamentals, their application, design and testing right through to manufacture. We are profoundly grateful to all who donated to this significant development and who helped turn our vision into reality.”
Former pupil (Old Oundelian) and major donor, Alex Patrick CBE commented, “Since the Victorian Era, Great Britain has excelled in producing some of the world's greatest scientists, engineers and innovative thinkers. Many pupils who attended Oundle School because of the aspirations of William Sanderson, Headmaster from 1892-1922 have gone on to become the technological leaders of their generation. As an Old Oundelian I always enjoyed my time in the School workshops. Today's pupils continue to experience this opportunity and it is for this very reason that I, and my family trust, were committed to the further development of SciTec. In so doing, I hope to help ensure that Oundle remains at the forefront of schools, providing the facilities by which we can inspire future innovators at an early stage in their career development.”
A further transformational philanthropic gift came 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.
Michael Uren said, “This wonderfully exciting development 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 were delighted that my Foundation could assist Oundle to achieve its fund-raising dreams of completing SciTec and enhancing the Patrick Engineering Centre.”
Oundle 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: www.oundleschool.org.uk .