Wiltshire Council is working with our local schools to increase the number of special school and resource base places available in Wiltshire to meet growing demand for specialist SEN school places
Wiltshire Council is making a £33 million investment in special schools in north Wiltshire. Working with our construction partners, Willmott Dixon, we will be providing up to 400 places for our SEND pupils, from early years to post-16 years, on the Rowde site, by September 2023.
Wiltshire Council wants to ensure that all children and young people with SEND have access to a first-class education. The project is part of a wider plan that has seen the special schools of Larkrise, St Nicholas, and Rowdeford, come together to form Silverwood school.
Here you can find out information about the project, including newsletters and frequently asked questions, and find opportunities to get involved in working with us to have your say on the design of the new buildings.
To ask us a question, email SpecialSchools@wiltshire.gov.uk
Special Provision Capital Fund
Wiltshire Council was awarded £1,359,723 from the Department for Education to support them in creating new places and improve facilities at existing schools for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The funding has been used to develop provision for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or a Statement of Special Education Needs in mainstream and/or special schools. The final local plan shows how this funding was spent:
Wiltshire Council is making a £33m investment with Silverwood School, working with our construction partners Willmott Dixon to provide up to 400 places for SEND pupils aged from early years to post-16 on the Rowde site. The new build is due to be completed by September 2023 and the refurbishment to the existing buildings on the Rowde site by March 2024.
Internal and external news on Silverwood School:
- BBC Newsround: Silverwood School update
- School starts new chapter
- New name chosen for special school
- Community invited to have their say
- New head, new school
- New build for special school's investment
- Government gives the green light
- Detailed vision to secure future provision
- November 2019 Cabinet meeting
For further up to date news from Wiltshire Council you can visit the main council news feed.
For SEND specific updates we also have own on Local Offer news section.
Frequently asked questions
Build and Design question and answer event 3 March 2021
Just for clarification, when you refer to widening of the road, are you talking about the actual access road inside the school, or the main road outside?
The access road within inside the school grounds. The main entrance was widened as part of the project to construct Buzzard Block. Our Transport Consultants have looked at the width of the listed entrance and do not feel that it needs to be widened any further. As part of the proposals we will be increasing the width of the road within the school site to circa 5.5m wide to allow two vehicles to pass.
Will you reduce the speed limit on the main road from 50MPH? It is a very fast road. You have previously said about the pupils coming into the village surely a 50mph limit with Children on the footpath is a safety issue.
We understand that there are concerns within the school and local community about the 50mph speed limit along the road outside the school and it has been suggested that it should be reduced to 30mph. This is not something that can be done as part of the planning application process and will request a Traffic Regulation Order to be put in place. We are happy to work with the school and the community to look at making an application and have begun conversations with our colleagues in highways about starting this process. During the building works it is likely that we will use warning signs and possibly temporary traffic lights in an attempt to reduce traffic speed in the vicinity of the entrance to the construction site. Willmott Dixon are reviewing access to the site and the initial thoughts are that the majority of traffic will access the site from the Chippenham direction and not through Rowde.
Have there been considerations with regard to the bridge outside the main entrance? (Extra traffic turning into the school)
We are aware that traffic is a concern for residents and we will be working hard to manage this safely and properly. We are considering a series of options for managing traffic into and out of the site, working closely with senior traffic highway colleagues at Wiltshire Council. The small bridge on the main road near to the school entrance from the Rowde direction is listed which means that we are not able to make the road wider. We are working with a travel consultant that previously did work with us around traffic analysis in this area. We are looking at how we can improve traffic across the site during construction by temporarily segregating construction and school traffic.
The 2nd entrance to school is proposed to be used for construction traffic coming from Chippenham direction as these will be large and many and plus construction staff, some will have to turn in from the wrong side of road, how do you propose to do this safely from our experience and others who use this entrance it is extremely dangerous?
We are very mindful of segregating construction and school traffic. We are considering options to create a temporary construction route to the site via the lodge gates opposite the farm. A potential challenge is that the lodge gates are listed so this would need planning permission. We have met several times with those residents who live very close to the school site and will continue to do that. We are exploring the option of carefully dismantling one of the Lodge Entrance Stone Piers to make the entrance wider for construction vehicles and then rebuilding the pier on completion of the project. Because the entrance is listed, we would need to apply for listed building consent to do this.
Is a transport plan part of the application?
We will be providing a detailed travel plan and transport assessment as part of the planning application.
Will there be a crossing by the farm on the way into Rowde, as the footpath only goes so far on that side of the road, and to try to cross the road on the bend would be dangerous?
The proposals do not currently allow for a crossing by the farm on the way into Rowde. We have shared our proposals with Highways colleagues and are awaiting their feedback on any highway works that they might feel are required as a consequence of the project.
The pavements are so narrow and unable to be widened many vehicles mount the pavements including lorries showing complete disregard to safety of pedestrians and lack of maintenance of these, hope you consider this?
Whilst our budget will of course be focused on delivering facilities for the children and young people within the school, we are considering as part of the project to cut back vegetation that's overgrowing the pavement in the vicinity of the entrance to the school to make the pavement more accessible for all.
There is a Ha Ha ditch within the proposed building site as this is part of our Heritage, we have been informed that this will be taken out and filled in. You state in your presentation that you are sympathetic towards the site what do you intend to do about this special feature?
We have engaged with Cotswold Archaeology who have extensively researched this feature and believe that this feature is not a Ha Ha. We will discuss this further with the member of the community to ensure we understand their views and can offer reassurance.
You talk about being sympathetic with the heritage and ecology of the site so you are not allowed legally to move any rare wildlife regardless of licenses and the fact you intend to destroy the area which is feeding grounds for some of these species, so what are your intentions with the recorded very rare bats in the middle of this proposed building site and the corridor for other species? What is the latest on the bats? Moving them to another tree does not seem viable. Once developed the wildlife will move out. How is that improving it?
We are aware that on the proposed site there are some badger setts, as well as a lot of other wildlife including owls and a wide range of bats. We have marked the location of them on site so that everyone knows where they are, and over the past two years have been monitoring the flight paths of the bats for example. Our build design has taken into account and worked around the wildlife habitats, trees, bat flight paths etc, and we are working closely with both ecologists in the Council and with Natural England to ensure that this whole setting, including its wildlife is protected and not harmed during the course of the works. As a school for children with SEND we share the view that has been expressed by local people that this area should be a great opportunity for pupils to engage with the landscape, and by creating a two storey building stakeholders agreed we would preserve as much of the grounds as possible for their use. We are planning to deliver a 10% biodiversity net gain on the site, working with the County Ecologist on how we will be able to achieve this. In essence what this means is that we will be creating more habitat than we will be removing. Details will be included as part of the planning application which Natural England will be scrutinising.
There is a council farm no longer in use Manor Farm, Rowde, opposite new Rowde school why has this not been considered as it would be far better access and less destructive to ecology of the area?
There was extensive consultation regarding where to site an expansion of the school, which led to a decision in November 2019 by Wiltshire Council's Cabinet to approve investment in an expansion on the existing Rowde site to accommodate up to 400 pupils.
Why are the plans so drastically different from what we were shown in November?
The bubble diagrams from the November event were early concept designs and they have now been developed further, based on the feedback from all of the co-production work, to produce the more detailed plans that you now see. The position of the building remains the same, but with more detail.
Is it still the plan for the new build to be open for pupils for September 2023?
Yes. The project remains on track for construction to be complete for September 2023. COVID has presented a number of challenges but Wiltshire Council, Silverwood School and Willmott Dixon have worked together to manage risks.
There is a long-established Residential community and Day Care facility in Rowde for adults with learning difficulties at Furlong Close. Many of the clients there will have previously attended one of the current Special Schools. Has any thought been given as to how these facilities can complement each other, sharing facilities and experiences in the personal journey from child to adulthood?
As we heard at the last community event there is a long history of the school being supported by and part of the Rowde community, and there will be ongoing opportunities to work together in future.
There are also issues with regards to families & dog walkers in particular near the lodge during construction.
There are no public rights of way across the land in the vicinity of the lodge. The construction site will be adequately fenced to deter trespassers and for health and safety reasons.
Will there be soundproofing?
As part of our landscaping proposals, we are looking to create some "earth mounds" to act as a sound barrier externally. Within the building there will be acoustic treatments required as part of meeting the Building Regulations and specific guidance on acoustic design for Special Schools.
What space (office/ equipment etc) provision is being made for the facilities management staff on site?
We are currently looking at a number of options and will be discussing these with school staff as part of the detailed further development of the design.
Build and Design question and answer event 11 November 2020
Queueing from the main road has caused issues and there have been accidents in the past, will the entrance and/or drive be widened? What is being done to ease vehicle access?
We are very mindful that the entrance and exit of the site has to be safe for school traffic, construction traffic and for the local community. Widening the entrance is something that is being considered as an option. The entrance is listed, which may present some challenges.
How can you persuade us that bussing rather than taxi-ing children around Wiltshire will be carbon neutral?
Pupils currently travel by minibus to each of the three sites and to support the planning application we will be producing a Travel Plan that will set out how the school will look to reduce car use and promote sustainable ways for the school community to travel to and from school.
Can the speed limit outside the site be reduced to 30mph especially during the build time?
We understand that there are concerns within the school and local community about the 50mph speed limit along the road outside the school and it has been suggested that it should be reduced to 30mph. This is not something that we can do as part of the planning application process and will request a Traffic Regulation Order to be put in place. We are happy to work with the school and the community to investigate this further. During the building works it is likely that we will use warning signs and possibly temporary traffic lights in an attempt to reduce traffic 2 speed in the vicinity of the entrance to the construction site. Willmott Dixon are in the early stages of reviewing access to the site and the initial thoughts are that the majority of traffic will access the site from the Chippenham direction and not through Rowde.
Will you improve the pavement links and footpaths from the school to the village?
The main focus of our budget is of course on improving the education for our pupils so the main focus will be on the site, that said we want to forge strong links with the community and pedestrian access is very important. We will work with highway colleagues to see what works might be able to be done.
Currently lots of traffic uses this road; will the council be looking at improving the road layout?
We are aware that traffic is a big concern and we will be doing our utmost to manage this safely and properly. We are considering a series of options for managing traffic into and out of the site, working closely with senior traffic highway colleagues at Wiltshire Council. The small bridge on the main road near to the school entrance from the Rowde direction is 3 listed which means that we are not able to make the road wider. We are working with a travel consultant that previously did work with us around traffic analysis in this area. We are looking at how we can improve traffic across the site by temporarily segregating construction and school traffic. We will be providing a detailed travel plan and transport assessment as part of the planning application and this will be something that will be discussed in future co-production engagements.
I am very concerned about traffic entering the site opposite Horse Lane Farm. I can see big problems with artic lorries for instance.
We are very mindful of segregating construction and school traffic. We are considering options to create a temporary construction route to the site via the lodge gates opposite the farm. A potential challenge is that the lodge gates are listed so this would need planning permission. We will discuss our initial thoughts further with the owners of the lodge house and Horse Lane Farm.
In my opinion, the best answer to traffic congestion would be to use the listed northern entrance for ENTRY and the existing entrance for EXIT.
We recognise that traffic flow is a key issue being raised through this webinar. It is important that we ensure whatever is put in place is safe for the learners arriving on site and residents in the local area. We are very happy to take on board the views around this and are open-minded in exploring these.
Had you thought about using a one-way system for in and out traffic? So, use the construction entrance and main entrance?
Yes, we will consider this.
Will the cows still have grazing on the site? I know the children love seeing them.
The field in question is owned by the Council and leased to a local farmer. Unfortunately, the construction works will be occupying this field and therefore there will no longer be cows in it. However, as part of the design we are looking at how we can enhance the farm provision.
I notice that only half of the strip of woodland next to the road is protected.
This is ancient woodland and there is very little left. The landscape team will be working closely with specialists to ensure there is no damage to the trees and we are not proposing to carry out any works in that area. A survey is being undertaken of the trees to understand in more detail how to protect them, for example through root protection zones.
How do you plan to protect the badgers?
We are aware that on the proposed site there are some badger sets. We have marked the location of them on site so that everyone knows where they are and will be working with Natural England to ensure that the badgers and other wildlife are protected and not harmed during the course of the works.
What innovative features will be used in the buildings re sustainability and environmental 'friendliness'?
One of the ambitious targets we are working towards is a carbon neutral development. The starting point is called a 'fabric first' approach - this will be minimising the energy loss as much as possible i.e. 'wrapping up the building in a woolly jumper' to keep it as insulated as we can. The orientation of the building is important when benefiting from solar gain but being cautious not to overheat the building. Options are being explored as to how the building will be heated, such as by air source or ground source heat pumps. The building materials are also being explored including the possible use of cross laminated timber, which is an engineered system that is highly sustainable.
Will Rowdeford continue to take pupils during the build?
Will the slides be available?
Yes. The slides are a large file so we are arranging to host them on the Wiltshire Council website. Link to follow.
What ideas do you have to involve the school with the community?
This was the topic of one of the sessions we had with parents/carers, staff and governors recently. Community links have always been an important part of the schools; therefore, it is important to speak with the community and parents at all three sites about what this could look like. We have been exploring how the school could bring in the community as well.
Do we have some idea of what the new school buildings will look like?
We are still at a very early stage with the design and over the coming weeks will be moving from the concept design stage to the more detailed design stage when we hope to be able to share plans showing what the new buildings will look like. Since the start of September, we have been working with stakeholders through workshops to understand what spaces and facilities we should incorporate into the build project and during the detailed design stage of the project we will work further with stakeholders as the design starts to take shape and becomes a recognisable building and site plan.
Can the Headteacher give us an idea of his vision for the new school?
The vision is not only about the school itself but also creating something exceptional and inspiring in the educational system. We are working with parents, carers, staff and children to create what the vision looks like. An aim would be working towards staff feeling as though they are part of one school despite potentially not working with pupils at the other sites.
How is the new name going to be picked? In just a few weeks?
Each of the campuses were given the opportunity to consult with staff and pupils to submit two names each alongside the governors who did the same. Therefore, eight names in total were part of a survey which was sent to staff, parents, carers and governors to vote. The governing body will be given the results of this survey and a final name will be decided and announced shortly. Update: The new school name is Silverwood School.
What facilities are planned for the site? St Nicholas currently have a hydro pool, will the new school have one of these? What facilities will be available to the pupils?
Yes, we are planning to have a hydro pool onsite. We have had some really valuable discussion in the co-production workshops, talking about what people would like to see and we've also heard from pupils themselves who have had the opportunity to think about the things they'd like to see. There have been suggestions such as: sensory rooms, library facilities, drama, music rooms, dining facilities (breakout as well as large spaces), play, sports and recreation equipment. We will be carrying on speaking to these stakeholders as we enter the more detailed design stage. 5 We are very conscious of enhancing the natural landscape already at the Rowde site. Ideas suggested included bike trails, animals and outdoor sensory experiences.
The planning website is notoriously difficult to navigate, would it be possible to share the link when you send it out so that it's easy to find please.
Yes, we will do this and will also let the Parish Council know when we submit our planning application, and perhaps they can publish the link on their website and Facebook page.
How many floors are being planned? Will there be several or will it all be ground floor level?
This is something that is not finalised yet but is being considered. It is something that has been brought up at several the workshops. Overall people have fed back to us that because this is a beautiful site with natural features, people are happy to consider two floors if that would mean maximising the outdoor area.
Are you asking any ex-pupils, what would have made their time better?
We haven't yet, but this is a great idea going forward. We have been engaging with pupils across all three sites through support from staff and asking them the same Question as those discussed in workshops with parents, carers, staff and governors. Pupils have been telling us some great things that they enjoy about their school sites, like their friends, teachers, being part of the community. They spent some time thinking about what they would like more of at the school. We have gained a lot of feedback from current pupils and that will be on-going. 6 Wilmott Dixon will be working with pupils throughout the life cycle of the project; getting involved in construction, getting to know the trade, looking at virtual plans. There is a solid programme of making sure children and young people are at the heart of everything we do.
How will health and social care be integrated? Into the school build?
During the process of the co-production workshops we have been asking health and social care partners on their views of how the future school will work. One idea is that there could be space at the Rowde site which could then work as a hub, with visits to the other sites.
As I live locally, is there anything else I can do to support the process?
Thank you this is very encouraging. Please do get in touch with us directly SpecialSchools@wiltshire.gov.uk and we will keep you updated with any future ways to get involved. Thank you for your support.
Rowde has always been very supportive of Rowdeford School, including being a local employer. Moving forward I cannot see that changing.
This is fantastic to hear. Really great to hear support.
Parent / Carer frequently asked questions
Where will my child be in September? Will they be at the same school? Will we need to reapply for our school place?
Your child will see very little difference in September. They will still be at the same school, and you don't need to reapply for places as a result of this.
What will happen to the school uniform?
Each site's uniform will still be the same in September 2020. We will work together to create a single school identity including uniform and logo. Timescales for introduction of any changes like this that will affect you will be engaged on and planned in advance.
Will our headteacher stay the same?
From 1 September 2020 the senior leadership team within all three sites will remain the same. The current headteachers will remain responsible for their school sites. We are advertising for a new interim executive headteacher, who is expected to be in post by 1 September and will provide additional support in bringing the three schools together. We will update you once recruitment has been completed.
On 1 September will there be an executive headteacher?
We are working with governors to recruit an interim executive headteacher, with a view to them being in post by September. We will also be working with governors from September to recruit a permanent executive headteacher. Delays due to COVID-19 have meant that the governors have agreed to wait until the autumn to start the recruitment of a permanent headteacher. However, in the meantime the interim headteacher will be in place to provide additional support as the three schools become one school.
Will the teachers and school staff still be working at their current school sites?
At the moment staff will remain at their current site from 1 September. As the transformation progresses the interim executive headteacher may explore informal ways for staff to experience the three different sites.
Can we have a detailed timeline from the local authority and new governors about when specific changes will happen, e.g. new head, change of classes, new uniform, building plans, name of school?
We shared a timeline in our most recent newsletter and will develop a more detailed 'roadmap' to share with you so you know what to expect and when. In practical terms you will not see any immediate change to your child's schooling or their experience of school life as a result of this decision. Children will continue to attend at their school sites as usual and there will be no immediate changes to things such as uniform. We really want to make sure that children and young people, and their parents and carers get to be involved in developing the single school and its identity, and there will be lots of opportunities to work together, including in the design of the new-build school.
When will the first pupils move into the new site?
The construction programme is a phased one, but the first major completion of building work is planned for September 2022. We will provide regular updates on progress on the build.
When will the pupils return to school in September?
Preparations for returning to school will be carried out in line with government guidance and with support from our colleagues in education.
What does the decision to amalgamate the schools mean?
On 31 August Larkrise, Rowdeford and St Nicholas will technically close as three separate schools, and on 1September 2020 a new single school will be created on the three existing sites. This decision is an important milestone and reflects a lot of hard work from all the governors, staff and the wider school communities. That doesn't mean that everything will change from 1 September. This is the beginning of a new and exciting stage of our work together to create a new school across the three sites that supports Wiltshire children and their parents and carers and will promote inclusion and excellence in teaching and learning.
What will the new school be called?
This is a really important decision and one the governors and school community will want to think about together. We look forward to working with the school community on this exciting aspect of the new school.
Special Schools Project newsletters:
- April 2020
- Special schools project newsletter: August 2020
- December 2020
- February 2021
- May 2021
- July 2021
Wiltshire Council was successful in securing a bid with the Department for Education to create a new special free school for children and young people aged 4-19 with Autistic Spectrum Condition/Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs in the South of the county. This will provide an additional 150 places over time, to meet future demand and reduce geographic inequality of provision between North and South. This school is part of a wider programme of work.
The Department for Education is inviting applications from proposer groups to open a new special free school in Wiltshire.
There are a number of engagement events for potential school partners for the DfE Free School Wave 3 SEMH School for 130 learners in west Wiltshire. Interested parties should contact email@example.com for a meeting invitation. These events will take place as follows:
- 24 May 2023 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm via Microsoft Teams link, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a meeting link invitation
- 31 May 2023 at 9:30am to 10:30am in person at County Hall, contact email@example.com for a meeting invitation
- 5 June 2023 at 4pm to 5pm via Microsoft Teams link, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a meeting link invitation
Applicant groups can access the key school specification information, along with the full 'How to Apply' guidance, by visiting GOV.UK. You should read these documents carefully before completing mandatory pre-registration.
The school specification document sets out the key factual details about the proposed school, including the proposed size, SEND designation, age range, suggested top-up funding, and proposed site.
The contextual information document provides applicant groups with additional contextual information provided by Wiltshire Council, which includes:
- the rationale, context and need for the school;
- details on the commissioning of places, including the involvement of any other LAs commissioning places;
- a brief description of the existing provision in the area;
- future expected growth in pupil numbers; and
- how the LA expects places within the school to be filled.
|Local authority||Wiltshire Council|
|Local authority contact||Name: Melissa Hardwell|
Job title: Head of Special School Transformation
|Regional Director (RD) contact||Name: Hannah Woodhouse|
Regional Director for South West
|SEN designation||Social and emotional mental health|
|Which local authorities are committed to commissioning places (including the number of places)?||Wiltshire Council: 130|
|Number of places||130|
Per-pupil revenue funding the local authority would expect pay (if range of rate, please explain and detail the rates per pupil, including estimates for how many of the cohort will be in each band)
*funding rates have been provided by the local authority. Please speak to the local authority contact for further information.
|£10,000 per place (base funding) plus £19,980 per pupil top-up funding (2021/22 funding rates @ SEMH designation, based on average maintained/academy rates in Wiltshire). Wiltshire is experiencing a growth in the complexity of SEND learners so top up rates are expected to rise.|
|Age range||5 to 19|
|Type of placements offered (e.g. full time, short term, part time)||Full time (5 - 16) and short term (Post-16)|
|Proposed site||We're working with the LA to identify a suitable site|
The table below details the number of places that the local authority proposes for each year group at the point of opening until the school is full.
|Year group||Year of opening||+1||+2||+3||+4||+5||+6|
|Key stage 1|
(Y1 - 2)
|Key stage 2|
(Y3 - 6)
|Key stage 3|
(Y7 - 9)
|Key stage 4|
(Y10 - 11)
|16 - 19||9||11||12||12||12||12||12|
The information provided in this specification is subject to change and will be reviewed regularly throughout the pre-opening process to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.
For further information about engagement events and the LAs SEND strategy,please contact the local authority.
Consultation 30 January to 5 March 2023
In accordance with Section 19(1) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (as amended by the Education Act 2011) and the School Organisation (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2013 Wiltshire Council are proposing changes to Silverwood School, to increase the school's current place numbers registered with the Department for Education (DfE) from 410 places to 460 and the age range at the Silverwood Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses from 4-19 to 4- 11.
In support of the above changes, Wiltshire Council is proposing to retain and invest in the Silverwood Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses. Wiltshire Council is working collaboratively with Silverwood school on the proposal to invest into the to the Chippenham, Trowbridge, and Rowed campus. A live, pre-consultation session was held, and a recording of the session can be found on Silverwood School information session (teams.microsoft.com).
As part of this process, Wiltshire Council is undertaking a consultation on its proposals to these campuses.
The Proposal and Statutory Notice are included below:
Comments can be made:
- via an online survey: Silverwood Online Consultation
- by email: SilverwoodConsultation@wiltshire.gov.uk
- by post: Silverwood Consultation, Special School Transformation, SEND & Inclusion, Wiltshire Council, County Hall, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN
Comments must be received by no later than 5 March 2023 to be considered in the decision making process.
Lyneham Primary School
Wiltshire Council proposes to establish a resource base (a Special Educational Needs [SEN] provision) at Lyneham Primary School, Lyneham, Wiltshire. This proposal has been developed in response to the demand for special educational needs provision in the North Wiltshire area. Should the creation of the resource base be agreed, the council and the school will work together to ensure that all admissions are handled effectively and efficiently.
For more information please read the following: