Agenda item

Proposal to retain and invest in Silverwood School Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses (post consultation)

      Report of the Chief Executive



Cllr Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, and Cllr Jane Davies, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, SEND and Inclusion presented a report detailing proposals to invest in the substantial refurbishment of Silverwood School at the Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses to meet growing demand for special school places.  


The Deputy Leader explained that the Silverwood School leadership team consider that the educational needs of current and future secondary-aged pupils are best served at the Rowde campus, complemented by primary provision across Chippenham, Trowbridge and Rowde campuses.


Cllr Davies commented on the significant investment for young people across the Rowde, Chippenham and Trowbridge Campuses to address the increasing demand for specialist school placements. A formal consultation was undertaken from the end of January 2023 over a 5 week period, resulting in 141 responses, details of the feedback received were detailed in the Appendix to the report. In summary there was high level support to retain and invest in the Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses alongside support to increase the number of registered places available to meet demand. It was

recognised that all children due to transition to Rowde will need sensitive, carefully-managed transitions to support the move, but ultimately, they will benefit from the education they receive with their peers, in a secondary campus specifically designed to meet their educational needs.


Cabinet members welcomed the proposals and were encouraged by Silverwood adapting to the changing circumstances.


Cllr Jo Trigg welcomed the report and the commitment to invest in the campuses at Chippenham, Trowbridge and Rowde. She highlighted the potential for anxiety and concern of parents during the refurbishment and transition stages and asked about timescales during this difficult time. The Deputy Leader and Cllr Davies provided assurances that the Council and Silverwood were already holding conversations and working with families to allay any concerns they had, whilst acknowledging that this would be a difficult time for them. She explained the importance of pupils growing with their contemporaries at appropriate facilities. The Executive Headteacher and Council officers commented on the process and timescales, in particular the proposed works for the Trowbridge campus were more substantial and therefore they would be sharing green space with Paxcroft Primary School during this time, it was anticipated that this work would take place over the summer period in 2024, the Chippenham campus required a more light touch approach with only cosmetic work required, due to take place during Easter 2024. Following completion of works at the campuses, the transition of accepting additional pupils would commence over a number of months.


Cllr Graham Wright, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, on behalf of Cllr Jon Hubbard, Chair of the Children’s Select Committee, that the Select Committee Chair and Vice-Chair received a briefing on 26 April 2023 and were satisfied with the proposals detailed in the report.




That Cabinet approves:


i)               the change to Silverwood School pupil numbers, increasing registered place numbers from 410 to 460.


ii)             the change in age range on the campuses to deliver the operating model recommended by Silverwood School. This changes all-through education at Chippenham, Trowbridge and Rowde, to primary education at Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses and all-through education at Rowde campus.


iii)           the refurbishment of Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses, funded from pre-approved ‘Silverwood Phase 5’ capital funding - with decision-making in respect of implementing the proposals delegated to the Director of Education & Skills.


Reason for Decision:


The proposal to invest in the substantial refurbishment of Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses is required if Wiltshire Council is to meet growing demand for special school places. The proposal is a cost-effective capital solution to maximising Silverwood School provision, securing 150 places.


It is unequivocally necessary to grow the school offer for learners with SEND. Through an investment in, and retention of, Silverwood School Chippenham and Trowbridge campuses, children with SEND will be able to access local primary-age provision; complemented by an all-through offer (Reception to Sixth Form) at Silverwood Rowde.


Families with SEND will have the choice to attend the local primary school at Chippenham, Trowbridge or Rowde campuses followed by the more extensive secondary school experience at Rowde campus only, located 10 miles away from the primary school campuses. Silverwood School will continue to provide a hybrid Sixth Form offer at Rowde and Silverwood College (previously known as Poplar).


Under this proposal, Silverwood children are offered the choice of a local primary school education – enjoying shorter travel times to school and a better balance between school and home time. The proposals deliver significant cost savings (place and transport costs) when compared with Independent Special School alternatives. It also satisfies a growing demand for special school places, enabling Wiltshire Council to fulfil its statutory duties in a mainstream, specialist provision.


Supporting documents: