School Closure Threat

Written by Terry Kemp on .



Wiltshire Council Consultation – Special Education Needs Provision North Wiltshire 
Wiltshire Council advise that with the significant growth in housing within Wiltshire all special schools are full but that an additional 220 new special school places will be required by 2026. Proposals at present being consulted upon offer three options as a solution –
Option 1 – Create one new school for pupils with SLD/ Complex needs either in Chippenham, Trowbridge or Devizes area.
Option 2 – Develop two sites for Special Schools for pupils with SLD/complex needs either in Chippenham, Trowbridge or Devizes Area.
Option 3 Develop three for Special Schools for pupils with SLD/complex needs either in Chippenham, Trowbridge or Devizes Area
The Rowdeford Charity Trust was founded in 2001 (Registered Charity No 10888605)) and works with Rowdeford School and the community to advance the education of children and young people with disabilities or special needs, especially by the development, renovation and conservation of the assets, buildings and grounds of Rowdeford School.
The Trust raises funds through its charitable activities and grant applications. Since its formation the Charity has raised and invested in excess of some £I.5 million of funding which has enhanced the estate and facilities at Rowdeford substantially. The most significant examples are the Arts Centre and the recently completed Outdoor Learning Centre. (Should the School close, for each of these projects Wiltshire Council will be required repay a proportion of the investment grant as per Grant Agreement Dated 28/04/2017.)
• Funding and Charitable Investment – Experience within the Trust and from its supporters has enabled significant additional funding for the School. In particular the Rowdeford Garden Fair which contributes on average £10,000 per annum.
• Setting - This location provides the inspirational and historic environment so enjoyed and appreciated by all involved with the school and its activities. The historic and countryside setting enables the exploitation of the heritage focus of traditional outdoor skills and learning with more people whether it be in the natural environment of the woodlands, the Victorian Walled garden (Greenhouse restoration facilitated by funds raised by the RCT) , the wildflower meadow or the historic landscaped grounds. Through the increased collaboration with other schools, communities and groups this contributes to the breaking down of barriers between people with special needs, the wider community and workplaces adding to the ability of the School’s own pupils to communicate with others.
• Geographical location – the location is easily accessed and central to Wiltshire.
• Social Capital- The network, values and bonds that exist between the various groups, communities and School staff are due to the uniqueness of the School.(Born out by over 10,000 people signing the petition of support for the school)
• Development Opportunities- The location could be developed appropriately to accommodate additional students without compromising the setting in line with the growth requirements. There are mobile classrooms, for which only temporary planning permission was given, and subject to full planning these could be replaced by a brick built and two story buildings.
The Rowdeford Charity Trust proposes that Wiltshire Council retains the School location and considers appropriate development of its facilities.

Looking back and forwards

Written by Terry Kemp on .

Rowdeford Outdoor Learning and the new Ingrid Sidmouth Centre
John Craze, Outdoor Learning Development Coordinator and Terry Kemp, Rowdeford Charity Trust look back over the project and into the future
John and TK

Thanks to the efforts and support of so many people we have raised over two hundred thousand pounds to build a purpose built ‘Outdoor Learning Centre to grow the existing ‘Outdoors Learning’ education here at Rowdeford School. From the very beginning of the project and the expansion of the initial ideas the intention was to create an exemplary facility that extends its work to involve the wider community, visiting schools and offer training; becoming a Centre of Excellence in Outdoor Learning.

Green Team preview new Centre

Written by Terry Kemp on .

The Ingrid Sidmouth Centre has now been handed over to the School by the contractors. Now that the work has finished the Centre will start to be put into full use next term. However, the School Green Team got a sneak preview this week. . 


green team

Pupils name the Centre - the full story

Written by Terry Kemp on .

We have raised over two hundred thousand pounds to build a purpose built ‘Outdoor Learning Centre to facilitate and expand the delivery of existing ‘Outdoors Learning’ education here at Rowdeford School. From the beginning of the project and the expansion of the initial ideas the intention is to create an exemplary facility that extends its work to involve the wider community, visiting schools and offer training; becoming a Centre of Excellence in Outdoor Learning.


The original ‘Kennels’ building (formerly school farm dairy & animal housing) was in  a state of dereliction and we are sympathetically restoring the building  as a simple, functional, weatherproof space repairing brickwork, timber and roof coverings. The intention is 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 e.g. swallows, bats. (we already have a Tawny Owl using the facility as a roost.)

Trust and Pupils to name new Outdoor Learning Centre after retiring Headteacher

Written by Terry Kemp on .

The building of Rowdeford School’s new Outdoor Learning Centre is still in progress but in advance of the school holidays the Centre will be named on the 11th July 2017 by two former pupils.

The Centre, which will be finished ready for the new term, has been financed through the efforts of The Rowdeford Charity Trust and other supporters.

Jonny Grew Chairman of the Rowdeford Charity Trust said,” We are so grateful to so many people and organisations. Costing over £200,000 the purpose-built facility will give access to the outdoor facilities around the school to more pupils and community groups. We are also really pleased that we can honour our retiring Headteacher Ingrid Sidmouth by naming the centre after her.” He continued, “Ingrid has been such an important ‘leading light’ since she first became deputy headteacher in 2001. It is appropriate the Centre should be called ‘The Ingrid Sidmouth Centre’ “

Fledglings delay works - sort off!

Written by Terry Kemp on .

Within the woods close to Rowdeford School, The Rowdeford Charity Trust and the School are restoring and extending the old farm kennels providing an innovative outdoor learning space. Contractors are on site as are a nest of fledgling flycatchers.

These rare birds and its nest are within an area of the old roof that has yet to be cleared. Scaffolding is in place, carpenters are replacing old timbers, concrete is being laid all observed by these little birds and their parents.

All off the planned works have been subject to strict environmental checks and conditions but this nest has been a surprise. The Schools appointed contractors, local firm Wilkins Builders Ltd have been very careful and now are rearranging their work to allow the young birds to develop and leave the nest naturally.

Terry Kemp the Trust’s Fundraising Coordinator said, “The work to raise the finance by the Trustees, School Staff, School Governors, Pupils, Friends and others to build an Outdoor Learning Centre has been tough. The fact that we have now started and could be thwarted by nature is ironic! But we can work around this and will welcome the birds back to our bird boxes next year.”

Imperial Charity Cheque presented to Pupils

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Now that the Rowdeford Charity Trust has reached ts target to be able to start work they are able to contact the various charities that have pledged funds. One such charity is the Imperial Charity who pledged £1000 if we raised the rest.

Pupils from the School met the President of the Imperial Charity David McCance and showed him the gardens and the site where the new Centre is to be built. Afterwards he presented the children,who on this occasion were, representing the Trust with the cheque. 



New home for Rowdeford Owl

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The building of our outdoor learning centre comes witha few conditions. One of those conditions is the provision of an Owl Box(roost) for our Owl. This bird has for some years been useing the roof of the old kennels so needs a new home now that we have taken the roof tiles off and building works are about to begin.

The pupils and staff have built the box and there has been many sighting of Owen and others standing holding their chins and pondering as to how to get it up into the tree. There has been talk of cranes, 'cherry pickers', even helecopters were mentioned. However, the end result was ladders and 'good old fashioned ' muscle (Owens!) 

Thanks to everyone for their hard work. Let's now see whether Mr Owl takes up residence.

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Mr Craze up the canal with a paddle,

Written by Terry Kemp on .

Aside from all the work in getting our Outdoor Learning Centre underway we often can forget that fundraising is still required for other essentual things required for the children at Rowdeford School.

John Craze,  one of the teachers at the School is so desperate to get some essentual exhibition equipment for his Duke of Edinburgh  Award pupils he is going to paddle his canoe 125 miles to Westminster! 

John has entered the Annual Devizes to Westminster Canoe Marathon in the hope that he can gain sponsorship and raise £1250. He tells us that he has stopped falling in and has been training now for most weekends. To support him and contribute to his fundraising effort. ( and what an effort too!) press Here .


Watch this space - we are on our way!

Written by Terry Kemp on .

As 2016 gradually came to a close we saw our fundraising total coming tantalisingly close to our target. Into the new year and yes we have done it !

Thanks to so many who have given time, money and pledges we are now in a position that we are starting the two stage process of obtaining tenders for the works.


An Autumn Review of Fundraising

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As autumn kicks in and the trees in woodland at the School begins to shed their leaves it is perhaps a good time to review our progress.  Behind the secenes there are meetings , decisions, letters, applications and so much more.

We are now at a time where we are close to our target of £216,000 thanks to the generosity of people and organisations both with time, pledges  and money. In the pipeline there are still applications being considered so the prospect of starting work in early 2017 is looking possible. 

Watch this space for further news!

Maggie finishes and reaches target!

Written by Terry Kemp on .

Trustee Maggie Moore once more put on her running shoes to support our School and the Outdoor Learning Centre. She ran the Great North Run 2016 on Sunday .

We all know the Mo Farah came in first but Maggie was 29,550 out of 57000 and 44th in her category of females 65 and over. Her time was a terrific 13.1miles in 2hours and 35minutes. She now proundly sports a blister and two dodgy toenail.( and of course a big smile)

She has reached her fundraising target! Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Towards 2017 - An optimistic view

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Though the year of 2016 is not yet over it is thought that an optimistic view 'towards 2017' would be an advantage.

The year so far has fueled that optimism for we have had many generous pledges and donations to bring us closer towards our target. The Trustees and the School is extremly grateful for this support. so where are we now and where could we be as the new year arrives? 

Jamie's appeal takes a taxi ride

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Jamie Rowcliffe a part time pupil at Rowdeford School is still hard at work with his target of raising £1o,000 for the Rowdeford Outdoor Learning Centre Project. Within weeks he reached £1000 , inspiring and motivating him to change his target to this £10,000. Seizing an opportunity, he has decided that he is not going to do it alone. He has recruited 15 Taxi Drivers to help.

Children come from all around Wiltshire to attend Rowdeford Special Needs School and for many the transport is provided by taxi. The drivers therefore know the school, know the children and also know the benefits of the pupil’s time there. The participating taxis, for three weeks, starting on Sunday the 15th May, will have a collection box in the vehicle asking passengers to contribute to Jamie’s Appeal.

jamies taxis2

Jamie’s teacher said, “Everyone has been so helpful in setting up this initiative and Jamie is determined to reach his target.’

The taxi project is only one of a number of activities led by this 12-year-old pupil. This weekend he was at the Rowdeford Garden Fair talking to visitors with his collection box firmly in his hand. He is also planning to do a sponsored walk when he visits Wales this year.

Concert in aid of Charity

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There are many ways the the Trust raises money - this one is really special !RCT Concert

Yurt in use

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Now the weather is better the Yurt is being used for Outdoor Learning Sessions. Not that foul weather is really a problem for the Yurt has its own woodstove inside !!!What you might call all 'Mongolian' home comforts .

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Tea and Cake thankyou

Written by Terry Kemp on .

On Tuesday 12th of April 2016 our fundraising pupil Jamie and Mrs Howell (Rowdeford Plus Programme Teaching Assistant) showed their appreciation to a kind donation by organising a thank you tea party.

The tea party even included a sponge made by Jamie and his family. As the cake and tea was appreciated so much everyone is thinking that more cake should be baked to encourage more donations !!!!

jamies cake

Fundraising Project Changes

Written by Terry Kemp on .

Thanks to so many people the fundraising project for our Outdoor Learning Centre has progressed in leaps and bounds. With pledges of funds plus money already raised we have over £100,000. 

The demand for the Outddor Learning Centre space however is growing and it is with this in mind that the School and the Trust decided to review where we are and consider next actions. This has now been done and it has revealed that with the restoration of the old building only we could still meet all our targets and benefits. This means that the second ( new build) building for the moment is not required for we are making full use of the Yurt.

This now means that we have a new fundraising target of £216,000 bringing our finish line much closer !  

Each of our kind donors are now being advised of these changes and fresh literature is also being prepared. However we can be optimistic that with luck we could be building by early 2017 ! 

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We have done it !

Thanks to so many who have given time, money and pledges we have built our Outdoor Learning Centre !


We want to share traditional outdoor skills and learning whilst breaking down those barriers between people with special needs, the wider community and workplaces.

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Rowdeford School


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The Rowdeford Charity Trust
Rowdeford School,
Rowde, Devizes,
Wiltshire SN10 2QQ.

Telephone: 07584 778151

Registered Charity - 1088605

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