Henry Boot Construction have recently completed work on a new £9m Special Education Needs (SEN) learning centre on Buckingham Road in Headingley, Leeds. Located in the Ford House building, the venue is to be known as Headingley Learning Centre and is the third SEN campus of West Oaks School.


Established in 1977, the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ SEN school also has campuses located in Woodhouse and Boston Spa and delivers accessible learning environments for 500 pupils aged between 2 and 19.


Having started the project back in November 2021, phase one was completed in time for the start of the school year in September, before the final phase of work was finished earlier this month.


Purchased by Leeds City Council in 2020, Ford House is an 1850s Grade II Listed manor house set within leafy grounds. Leeds City Council partnered with Henry Boot Construction and West Oaks School to complete the necessary work to transform the facility into a contemporary SEN campus – significantly furthering the SEN provision in the city.


The modernisation of the 2,800 sqm building, which included new heating systems and insulation throughout, had to be carefully balanced with the restoration of the building’s attractive heritage features.


All lime plastered walls, roof tiles, woodwork, sash windows, staircases and ceiling cornicing had to be reviewed and then carefully repaired or replaced – utilising the exact materials and construction methodology defined in the Listed status.


The building’s two striking tower turrets, located approximately 50 metres from ground level, had to be removed via crane lift and then refurbished and recoated off-site by a specialist heritage contractor.


The new campus is now home to around 120 West Oaks pupils, who have access to the very latest therapeutic and training services. The facility includes high-quality classrooms, curriculum-focused outside play areas, a multi-use games area, interactive activity zones and exhibition space.


A ‘morning mile’ activity path was also created around the site perimeter, providing an important outdoor walking and running track for the pupils.

“We are delighted to have successfully handed over Headingley Learning Centre to West Oaks School. Given the tight programme, it was a real team effort to get the campus in a position to welcome students for the new school year. All our projects are rewarding and contribute to the communities in which they are located. However, working on a development that delivers such valuable support to young people in Yorkshire is something that the team is incredibly proud of.”

Craig Finn, Director at Henry Boot Construction

"We strive for excellence. We are proud to be an outstanding Leeds-based SEN provider and are excited by our new campus in Headingley. We are looking forward to the academic year ahead and integrating with the local community over the coming months and years. Headingley Learning Centre is an exceptional facility. I would like to thank all the teams involved in supporting us with the challenging project. Due to this further expansion, West Oaks in now one of the largest SEN schools in Europe, with 500 pupils and 240 staff across our three sites."

West Oaks School Principal, Andrew Hodkinson