This is our first Newsletter of the current school year. We will send these Newsletters out regularly, to keep you posted on developments. We hope you find them helpful and informative and if you have any feedback about what you would like included in them please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
After weeks of consultation the votes are now in and the North Wiltshire School has a new name. Parents, governors and staff were involved in choosing their favourites from a shortlist of names to agree on the chosen name for the special school and the winning name was …. Silverwood School.
There were dozens of suggestions with some great creative ideas from pupils from a host of names including some quirkier ideas such as The Hedgehog School, 3 Wiltshireteers and Triple Choc Chip School!
The name was shared with the school community as plans continue to build up to 400 special school places at the school’s Rowde campus.
On 1 September the three school sites of Larkrise, Rowdeford and St. Nicholas came together as one school with the working name of North Wiltshire School. Now pupils across all three sites will be pupils of Silverwood School with each site referred to as the Trowbridge campus, Rowde campus or Chippenham campus.
Under the leadership of its Interim Executive Head Teacher, Sean McKeown, Silverwood School will continue to work in co-production with children and young people, parents and carers, and staff and the next important task will be choosing a logo for the newly named school.
The logo design and name will combine to represent all that Silverwood has to offer: a centre of excellence where all children and young people will thrive, flourish and achieve the most amazing outcomes. A web page for the new school is active and holds key information with links to the websites of the three school campuses. This will be developed further into a new full school website over the coming months.
Full Governing Board
The Full Governing Board (FGB) for Silverwood School was formed and met for the first time on 10 September when the FGB chair, Aileen Bates and co-vice chairs, Jan Winfield and Sarah Gunner were appointed.
The role of the FGB is different to the role of the Shadow Governing Board that preceded it because it is now responsible for strategic leadership and accountability for the school. This includes working closely with the new Executive Head Teacher, Sean McKeown as they bring together the three former schools as one school across three campuses, and working together to shape and deliver its vision.
The FGB also continues to work closely with colleagues at Wiltshire Council on the wider special school transformation programme including the build at the Rowde campus. This has included a series of co-production workshops to inform the build design, and the wider inclusion agenda to ensure all children with SEND in Wiltshire have the best possible education and life outcomes.
School Build Co-production
In collaboration with the design team, we began a series of co-production workshops on 24 September to inform the design of the new school build. Due to Covid, we ran these sessions online and have been delighted by the level of response and engagement.
Together with parents, carers, staff and governors, as well as other key stakeholders such as the Wiltshire Parent Carer Council, we have considered key areas like building design, transport, ecology and environment, play and outdoor learning, and linking the school and the community. We had good attendance from across all three campuses and are very grateful for the time people have given and their enthusiasm for working together to design our new building.
The first phase of our co-production workshops is now complete and we have a wealth of feedback and insights that are being incorporated into the concept design. We look forward to our second phase of workshops that will begin in January when we will get into more detailed aspects of the design ahead of the planning application in the spring.
In advance of these sessions Willmott Dixon, our main contractors for the new build, and their design team had already gathered as much information as possible about the main build site, visiting the three school campuses and talking to staff to understand how they operate. The project team together with governors have also visited other special schools in the region to look at what works well and what can be even better.
In parallel with the online workshops with parents, carers and staff, we are very grateful to the school staff who have been engaging with students as part of the co-production programme. At one of our design workshops we heard feedback from pupils from all three campuses to tell us about what they valued about their current campus and what they would like to see in a new build. This included a video and some great singing from pupils to show us the importance of music in their learning! The children and young people told us how much they value their teachers and friends and the importance to them of sensory spaces, drama, sport and music.
Pupils will continue to get involved at all stages of the project, getting to know more about the many different types of roles and people who get involved in construction, and to feel a real sense of ownership over the new building.
As part of our commitment to keeping people informed and involved we also held a community event in November to meet with residents who live locally to the Rowde campus to share our early ideas about development on the site and hear their views. This event was also held online as a webinar and we had great attendance and lots of really good questions from local people, councillors and the Parish Council.
South Wiltshire Free School
Reach South Academy Trust in partnership with the Department for Education, Wiltshire Council and leaders from other schools, are considering the former UTC building in Salisbury as a new home for the Free School in the south. A feasibility study is now underway to assess the potential of the building on Wilton Road, Salisbury, as the site of the new SEND free school for south Wiltshire.
The whole team is committed to developing a school that is safe and purposeful for all its pupils. We are aware of the potential of the site but also recognise that work will need to be done to make it fit for purpose. The team will use their expertise and experience to establish how a building with great space and facilities can now be significantly adapted to meet the needs of an ASD and SEMH population. The team will also look at how the need for suitable outdoor spaces can be accommodated.
Local residents have been made aware and responses have been really encouraging with some very positive feedback.
The UTC site will only be confirmed as the definite location for the new SEND free school once this process has been completed and any safety concerns have been addressed. Once the feasibility study has been completed the main findings will be shared.