Project information

The Acland Burghley Better Spaces project

We want to transform our school's "Brutalist" architecture into a space that reflects new confidence in our academic and creative excellence. Though a classic London "comp", our building is rare "English Brutalism" and prison-like. We need a less grim wall, a bold sign and a facade we can light up.

December 2015 - July 2016

Charity information: Acland Burghley School Trust

Acland Burghley School Trust logo
  • Need


    The school doesn’t look as creative on the outside as on the inside, despite having arts specialist status. Its look is criticised by students and the community. Due to be rebuilt, in 2010 the Building Schools for the Future scheme was cancelled. It has recently been on a challenging journey towards academic improvement. Now it’s time to celebrate its unique architecture so students and families can take pride in the Burghley community. Better engagement means outstanding learning outcomes.


    Initial designs have been very positively received in the community. We want to involve pupils in the design through STEM lessons. 56 per cent of our students receive pupil premium, so creative opportunities in school are vital. Improving the front would be a catalyst to transforming the whole site over time. Families are aware of the importance of design, light and space in schools, and we want to reflect this in our own school in 2016, the 50th anniversary of Acland Burghley being built.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Replace the front boundary wall with a nicer, less solid section to connect more with the community


    » 3 of our parents are community consultants so will involve stakeholders in the next design phase. Our group has 8 parents with top design skills.
    » We wil deepen our current STEM work on the school architecture with an exploration of appropriate modern materials to work with Brutalist buildings.

    Success will be measured by surveys within school and in the community at large, which we expect to be positive given that it would be hard to make the school look worse.

    Aim 2

    Create a landscaped park beyond with a bold school sign wtih seating set in a green, safe space.


    » Involve STEM students in the overall design, landscaping and sculptural sign. Recent workshops have been inspired by the big Arsenal letters nearby.
    » The new head and deputy starting in September from an Ofsted outstanding school fully back the project and will promote it to families/the community.

    Success will be if students spend time sitting here, enjoying the green and nurturing space - and if STEM students gain enjoyment and understanding from helping design it.

    Aim 3

    To at times light up the facade like the South Bank in a business area visible from a big crossroads


    » Students will work out how to enhance the look of the facade at specific times on a limited budget using LED lighting to respect the environment.
    » All ideas will be subject to constant consultation wtihin school and beyond and will fit our environmental code.

    Success is if Acland Burghley's new look makes a buzz as a subtle twist on the South Bank, lifting spirits and making the school's appearance a truer reflection of its creativity.

  • Impact


    The project will permanently alter the look and feel of the school within its own community and beyond. The lighting element can change over time, allowing new students to create fresh projections. It's the first step in a longer term transformation, making Acland Burghley known for its creative approach to its built environment and learning.

    We will show their success by positive results from consultation, a stronger school community as more families come on board and better learning.


    There are few risks because most people think the school needs to look better and students want less greyness and more seats.

    We have experts in school/community consultation who will flag up any concerns with design and lighting. There is in-built flexibility in the concepts.

    All consultation with relevant statutory bodies will be undertaken where appropriate.

    Five parents with fundraising skills and contacts have been tasked with getting funds in each year group/alumni/the community.


    Donors to this project will receive a monthly email report detailing the ongoing and forthcoming activities and any necessary changes that have been made to the project plans.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £30,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £7,500 New Wall Section Materials, construction of parts, delivery
      £7,250 Sculptural sign Materials, construction of parts, delivery
      £3,500 Foundations Preparing the site for both wall and sign
      £1,750 Installation Installing more open fence and sign
      £10,000 Lighting Materials and lighting installation

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Philip Hoffbrand £500 Guaranteed
    Lord Kinnock £250 Guaranteed
    Rachel Kinnock £250 Guaranteed
    Geraldene Holt £250 Guaranteed
    Venetia Wolfenden £250 Conditional
    Tim Greenhalgh £250 Conditional
    Libby Davies £250 Conditional
  • Background


    Acland Burghley has a long history as a diverse, inclusive community comprehensive of 1,200 students with a vibrant arts faculty. The borough of Camden is the 17th most deprived in London. The school has an above average number of children with complex social and medical needs, including 20 autistic children at a specialist unit in school.

    The school's in the heart of Tufnell Park, a stone's throw from the tube. Its lit facade would be seen by 100s of travellers by tube, bus, car and on foot.


    The beneficiaries would be: families and staff who would enjoy a more creative environment and the process of fine-tuning design elements through STEM; learning outcomes would be greater with a stronger and more engaged school community; and the communty at large would benefit from
    (literally) seeing the school in a new light. We would like this project to trigger a bigger fundraising programme to improve other currently neglected spaces in the school and open them up to the community.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Acland Burghley School Trust has been in existence since for a number of years and was set up by parents and governors. It is independent of the school but works closely with it and the PTA. It has a proven track record raising money, recently organising a concert with Kitty, Daisy and Lewis (alumni of Acland Burghley and support band for Coldplay, Razorlight and Jules Holland).

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tim Greenhalgh

    Parent Tim leads on our design and is chairman and chief creative officer for Fitch global retail design company, in charge of 14 studios worldwide.

    Paul Newbury

    Our new deputy head leads our plans with staff. A former director of music at outstanding Camden School for Girls, he believes in creative excellence.

    Venetia Wolfenden

    A parent and schools architect, she designed a playground for her local primary, raising £100,000. She runs workshops in schools as Open City manager.

    Madeleine Holt

    A parent governor, group co-chair and ex Newnsight culture correspondent, her governor remit is to build community links and support for Burghley.