Blackburn Central High School with Crosshill


Blackburn Central High School with Crosshill is a newly-created entity involving the amalgamation of three existing schools. The combined student population of the new school is 960, including 60 special needs places. Working with Balfour Beatty, the school was constructed as part of the Blackburn and Darwen BSF programme.

The building sits in a prominent location on a steep incline above the town and takes advantage of the magnificent views towards the hills beyond. The school is organised around a multi-purpose central 'heart' space combining dining, assembly, library and social areas, while the teaching spaces run in a 'ribbon', wrapping around the building and creating identifiable and discrete ‘Home-Base’ areas where the students spend the majority of their time.

Nicholas Hare Architects have designed an excellent building in which to educate young people. The imaginative use of natural light and a simple but striking colour palette help to create an open and positive working environment in which staff and students can thrive.
Alan Chambers, former Headteacher, Blackburn Central High School


The school has become an important facility for the various local communities, which have very significant levels of social deprivation. The selection of a new, greenfield site with no relationship to any existing school provided an opportunity for local people from all communities to embrace this new community building equally.


The design reflects the innovative pedagogical model for the new school which is based upon a ‘Home-Base' structure with an emphasis on a skills-based, competency approach to learning. Students spend approximately 80% of their time in their home-base, leaving only for PE, Technology and some Science activities. Each Home-Base caters for a maximum of 180 pupils and consists of a hierarchy of settings for different modes of learning and for a range of group sizes.

Our Team

  • Paul Baxter
  • Malcolm Birks
  • Marie-Pierre Avgeri
  • Rachel Barker
  • Ian Eggleton
  • Kenneth Gow
  • Andrew Gowing
  • Graeme Winestone

Project Team

  • Client: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • Cost Planning: Turner and Townsend
  • Structural Engineer: Ramboll UK
  • Services Engineer: Hoare Lea
  • Landscape Architect: Farrer Huxley Associates
  • Sustainability Consultant: Hoare Lea
  • Acoustician: Sound research Laboratories
  • Fire Engineer: Safe Consulting
  • Access Consultant: Access=Design
  • Contractor: Balfour Beatty
  • Photography: Andy Haslam


  • Shortlisted: RICS North West Awards