Sutton’s zero carbon masterplan

In March 2022, Sutton High School GDST held the ‘Topping Out’ ceremony of their net zero carbon masterplan development, Fernwood House.

Topping Out is the point where the last structural element of the build is completed, and to mark the occasion GDST CEO Cheryl Giovannoni, and CFO Jonathan Davis joined Head of Sutton High School, Beth Dawson, for a ceremony to unveil the structure.

Fernwood House is Sutton High’s new state-of-the-art prep and nursery building  completed in Summer 2022. Named after Sutton High School’s old kindergarten building, the new development consists of a new Early Years centre, an extended Refectory and events space, and an all-weather sports pitch to support the expansion of the school. Each of these spaces have been designed to be adapted to pupils’ needs, imaginations and curiosity as they progress through the school.


cheryl giovannoniAt the ceremony GDST Chief Executive Cheryl Giovannoni said, “It is a proud moment for the GDST and all at Sutton High School as we enter a new and exciting chapter. We are delighted to invest in this inspiring learning space following high demand for places and the unwavering popularity of the school under the excellent leadership of Head Beth Dawson. We look forward to welcoming many more girls through the doors to Sutton High.”


To encourage older pupils to informally use the outside areas, there will be many places to sit close to the extended Refectory and sports pitch. This will allow girls to congregate and feel connected to school life whilst overlooking active areas, or to find peace and quiet within the sheltered garden spaces.

The new outdoor learning spaces incorporated into the Early Years centre will give younger pupils the chance to have direct contact with the natural world and experience nature at first hand. Seamless inside-outside learning for the youngest children will be – embedded in the Forest School ethos by the selection of natural materials and the informality of the spaces.

The new all-weather pitch will be used throughout the school year for hockey, tennis, netball, and other team sports reflecting the school’s belief In a strong correlation between exercise and improved mental and physical wellbeing.

The net zero carbon building has been designed with a modular timber frame which inherently involves less carbon than a steel or concrete structure. It was manufactured off-site In order to reduce on site waste and construction energy. The project’s sustainability strategy focuses primarily on reducing both the amount of ‘embodied carbon’- the Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with the construction, future maintenance and refurbishment, and disassembly of a new building -as well as the ‘operational carbon’ – the energy spent servicing the building in use.

sutton gdstCelebrating the Topping Out, Sutton’s Head, Beth Dawson, said: “I am so grateful to the Trustees of the GDST and our Local Governing Body for supporting this growth and investing in the success of the school. These fantastic new buildings will allow us to house over 800 pupils from next year in modern, bright and eco-sustainable spaces. I remain, as ever, grateful to our parent body, as it is your personal recommendations of our school that encourage more and more pupils to join our Sutton High family and this growth has enabled us to grow our facilities, too.”