'It made financial sense plus helped us with staff recruitment and retention' - Berkshire prep school
Sunningdale School, a family-owned boys’ prep school founded in 1874, sits in an exclusive part of Berkshire surrounded by quiet, leafy lanes and large, expensive properties. Whilst this is an ideal location for the outstanding boarding school, which boasts 25 acres of secluded grounds and wonderful teaching facilities, the high cost of buying and renting houses locally has been prohibitive for some staff.
Thanks to the recent delivery of two new Norwegian Log homes, three members of staff and their families are now able to live on-site, a perfect solution for everyone concerned.
“It is very expensive to purchase or rent in this part of the world,” explains school bursar Andrew Tidd. “So, from a staff recruitment and retention issue, this makes things so much easier. The log homes are on-site but in a completely private area of the grounds. From the pupils’ point of view it is also great to have the staff so close, and it really adds to the school family.”
The three-bedroom and two-bedroom homes are tucked away behind the school tennis courts, almost hidden from view by large mature trees but just minutes away by foot from the main school buildings. With their own verandas and a large, shared garden area, the cabins provide a safe and secure space for the members of staff and their families.
Mark Guest, head of games and SENCO at the school, lives in the larger log home with his wife and two young children. He says: “The simplicity of the building is ideal for the environment in which we live, and for a young family the layout is perfect. The convenience has also been fantastic as we are so close to the school. It feels so warm and cosy that we are actually looking forward to living in it during the winter, and during the high temperatures in the summer it was perfect too.”
The new log homes, which blend in beautifully in the woodland environment, also ticked boxes for the local planning authority. The school had spent years trying to get permission for new staff accommodation and had been turned down three times. After employing a planning consultant, and with the lodges being classed as transportable, on the fourth attempt, the school was successful.
Headteacher Tom Dawson had visited Norwegian Log and he says: “The Norwegian Log cabins were exactly what we had been looking for and they have provided the perfect solution for us. They look fantastic and the staff living in them are thrilled with them.”
Norwegian Log arrived on site in January to start the build and by April the teachers and their families were able to move in.
“We could not praise the Norwegian Log staff enough, they were fantastic and always so helpful. Even the sub-contractors we used said the same thing about them,” says Andrew.
The investment the school has made in the buildings makes sound business sense, Andrew explains: “In the long run this will be financially beneficial for the school. We’ve worked out there will be an 11-year payback which is nothing if you think that it will make recruiting staff so much easier.”