About Our Projects
We want to share traditional outdoor skills and learning whilst breaking down those barriers between people with special educational needs and disabilities, the wider community, and workplaces.
Learning Outside the Classroom has particular benefits for helping SEND pupils with to reach their potential. SEND pupils often learn best by doing, and the opportunity to get out into the school grounds, local community or further afield can provide the children with real life experiences that can help them lead an independent life in adulthood.
The Silverwood Animal Resource Centre (ARC) (Ongoing)
The Silverwood Animal Resource Centre (The ARC) will provide access to animal husbandry facilities to motivate SEND pupils and those who struggle to thrive in traditional classroom settings by engaging them in the most meaningful learning that occurs through acquiring knowledge and skills through real-life, practical, hands-on activities.
The ARC will improve positive outcomes for pupils in terms of their health, interaction, relationship building, communication, mental well-being, independence, and academic progress.
The ARC will help develop Outdoor Learning as well as animal therapy and land-based studies courses. The ambitious project aims to fund and construct a barn with surrounding paddocks and a classroom.
The ARC will enable Silverwood students to develop the following skills:
The Charity Trust worked with the school to restore a derelict school farm building in the woodlands into an Outdoor Learning Centre. Thanks to so many who generously donated, conducted fundraising, or gave their time, this project is now complete, and the pupils are able to thrive in their outdoor learning environment.
The original ‘Kennels’ building (formerly school farm dairy & animal housing) was in a state of dereliction, and we sympathetically restored the building as a simple, functional, weatherproof space repairing brickwork, timber and roof coverings. The intention was to be ‘minimalist’ in the refurbishment and within the restored spaces insert ‘pods’ or ‘self-contained’ units of free-standing accommodation creating storage and toilet facilities. This maintains the structure very closely to its 19th C origins and allows for integration of habitats such as swallows and bats. We already had a Tawny Owl using the facility as a roost.
Before the building professionals moved in, a significant amount of work was undertaken by volunteers. Our thanks to the Teams from Lloyds Bank, Royal Wootton Basset School, a team of Rowdeford Charity Trustees as well as staff and pupils from the school.
Previously this area of the school was out of bounds to pupils, now the building has been completed the learning area has been transformed. The renovated barn provides a valuable working space which functions as a learning stepping stone between woodland and classroom. With space to store essential equipment and resources, toilet facilities, sinks and worktops it helps make the woodland quicker and easier to access. This means that this inspirational area of the school is getting used more often for everything from literacy activities and art work to bug hunts and shelter building.
The new building works in partnership with the yurt, which provides the creative classroom space which is popular for art, life skills and drama while the new Ingrid Sidmouth Centre provides the facilities and the resources.
This phase in the development of outdoor learning at Silverwood has also allowed us to look outwardly in terms of what additional programmes we can deliver and what we can offer to other schools, youth, and community groups.
We can now provide an excellent Duke of Edinburgh camp ground with a number of different areas available on the site for groups to pitch tents, all within easy reach of the yurt and facilities in the Ingrid Sidmouth Centre. The school has recently become directly licensed with the Duke of Edinburgh Charity and the new facilities are helping the school to develop a gold residential programme. This will be open to candidates anywhere in the country and will help break down boundaries between mainstream and special schools, providing a unique volunteering experience. You don’t have to do the DofE to camp at Silverwood though as the facilities are open to hire for any school or community groups.
The school woodland links in with footpaths that lead up to Roundway Hill and the White Horse Trail and part of the volunteering will involve the maintenance and improvement of these trails for Silverwood pupils and other users.
The schools Plus Programme currently works with forty pupils from other secondary schools around Wiltshire, the additional facilities will allow us to develop this programme further and increase the age range to primary school children. The programme has the potential to offer places for pupils who may come to Silverwood in the future and help with transition. Additionally, it will offer support to pupils who will not come to Silverwood the opportunity to learn in a different and inspirational learning environment.
The Ingrid Sidmouth Centre provides the school with facilities on the doorstep to the woods and it is hoped that this will enable the school to attract more volunteers, either individuals or groups who are interested in the active management of the woodland. People young or old that would like to be a part of bringing an ancient, coppiced woodland back to life and enjoy sharing in learning new skills such as green woodworking or hurdle making.
The opening of the new facilities marks the next stage in the developmental journey of increasing the effectiveness of outdoor learning at Silverwood School. We will continue to look at accessibility across our site and examine what we can do to improve inclusivity in our outdoor learning environment. Our experience will be shared to continue to help others develop their outdoor areas and help to make the outdoors more accessible and integrated across the wider learning community.