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Knowle School, Plymouth

New primary school built in 30 weeks!

Knowle Primary School was operating out of an 1950s school that was riddled with asbestos and damp; a terrible learning environment! This changed when Plymouth City Council opted for a Sunesis Keynes 2 form entry model to replace the property - a decision that paid off with the new school constructed in record breaking time!

Our Keynes was built onto the existing playing field; this meant it could be constructed while the existing school remained open – critical to the project.

Fastest ever Sunesis school

With a base programme of 36 weeks, our team built the school in just 30 weeks. This was because using a pre-designed system like Sunesis with a fixed cost means our teams have a very efficient process of delivery with no waste, duplication or cost overruns.

The record timescale was achieved despite a short pre-construction and mobilisation period, coupled with limited storage and parking space. All this had to be factored into planning your highly experienced construction team.

Reasons for success:

  • Zoning the school to create a sequential flow of activities
  • Pre-design so no 're-inventing the wheel'
  • Weekly supply chain co-ordination meetings


  • Quickest Keynes Sunesis school built to date (30 weeks)
  • Strong relationship with the client and end user
  • Zero Reportable Accidents
  • Scape KPIs achieved/exceeded in nearly categories

What was said

Plymouth City Council:

“I really like the Keynes model, it's an excellent school that we will want to use again - it so light and airy.The quality achieved by Willmott Dixon at Knowle is one of the best I have seen – they have really excelled.”

Knowle head teacher:

“What a fantastic new school! It is light, bright and airy and children, staff and parents alike are really pleased with it. The accommodation is spacious and the acoustics are very good, making the atmosphere quiet and purposeful. We are particularly pleased with the learning streets, which the children are saying they feel comfortable in, especially when moving from place to place – there is no fear of ‘bumping into’ others.

Willmott Dixon have been a really good firm to work with – a new school with 15 classrooms started in January and we moved in by September (approximately 6 weeks ahead of schedule)! We had weekly updates to explain work being carried out and we have also been able to make small changes and additions to the specifications (at an extra cost), even though the it was an ‘off the peg’ model, helping to really suit our needs.”

What the children liked about their new school

  • The wide corridors (learning street)
  • The big trough sinks in the toilets
  • The secure feeling
  • The play area

What to know more? Contact Tim Carey


  • Sunesis Keynes model saw school built in just 30 weeks
  • Ready for opening at start of new school year 2015
  • Saved council hundreds of thousands in costs
  • Money saved now used for other front line services
  • 25 Sunesis schools built in 18 month, saving tax payer over £15m




Eden House, 82 Macrae Road, Eden Office Park, Pill, Bristol 

BS20 0DD

Tel: 01179 349 214

Fax: 01179 277 565