Catherine Ward Special Educational Needs Expert

We’re pleased to announce the recent appointment of Special Education Needs (SEN) schools design expert Catherine Ward as Associate.

Catherine, who will be based at our Sheffield studio, brings over 20 years’ experience working on education projects throughout the UK, focussing on higher education, further education, and schools, both for mainstream and SEN services.

Previously, Catherine served as Associate at design and engineering consultancy Atkins, and Bond Bryan Architects.

Catherine has also worked as Architectural Technical Advisor for the Department for Education (DfE) frameworks, including Building Schools for the Future, Priority School Building Programme, and the Construction Framework. In addition to this, she worked on the Education Funding Agency’s Regional Framework, which is used by academies, schools, local authorities, dioceses, and educational establishments throughout the UK.

In her new role, she will join the education sector team, managing the development of our special education needs portfolio and profile nationally.

“I am pleased to be joining at such an exciting time for HLM Architects, which is looking to further bolster its already widely-recognised reputation as one of the leading architectural education practices in the UK,” said Catherine.

“My passion and past work have particularly focussed on inclusive design, catering to diverse needs and requirements across the education sector in order to create the best possible learning environment, both of which I look forward to bringing to my new role.”

According to the Department for Education (DfE), the number of pupils with special educational needs (SEN) has increased for a third consecutive year to 1,318,300 in January 2019, representing 14.9% of the total pupil population.

Last year, the DfE announced plans to open 37 special and two alternative provision schools, creating around 3,500 more school places.

Welcoming Catherine to her new role, Lucy Plumridge, Education Lead, said, “Catherine’s appointment comes at a time when we are continuing to expand our education portfolio and placing greater emphasis on projects entailing special education needs, given the government’s plans for more specialist schools.

“For many students, the educational environment can present a bewildering array of emotional, practical, social, and communication and sensory challenges.

“Having designed or been technical advisors on over 2,000 special education needs places, we believe the lessons learnt from these projects should be applied to all educational buildings to provide greater inclusivity for all.

“Catherine has worked closely with developing frameworks for the educational sector in the Department for Education, and her experience, ranging from building bulletins to output specifications, schedules, and technical annexes, will be a valuable addition to our team.”