Welcome from the Headteacher

Sophie Clarke new

Welcome to our website. My name is Sophie Clarke and I am the Headteacher at Fordwater School in Chichester, West Sussex. I hope you enjoy visiting our site and that it gives you an informative insight into life at our school. 

Our school caters for pupils aged 2 – 19 years with severe and complex learning difficulties. We have an experienced and committed team who are dedicated to high standards of education, care and supporting behaviour. We aim to make the learning experience fun with a curriculum that meets the specific needs of each individual through a wide range of enriching activities.

The school is organised into 3 departments; Primary which includes Early Years, Key Stages 1 and 2; Secondary which includes Key Stages 3 and 4 and Sixth Form (16-19 years,) each having a head of department. There are 16 classes each with a teacher and two or more Special Support Assistants. The majority of pupils are grouped according to age but we also have specialist class groups for some pupils.

The main part of the school was built in the 1960’s but we have extended and replaced areas to meet the constantly changing needs of our pupils. We have some excellent facilities including our well maintained hydrotherapy pool and a food technology room, new multi sensory rooms, a play barn, well resourced outdoor playgrounds and many other exciting resources which enhance the education of our pupils.

In school we are supported by speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and a full time school nurse who work together with our teaching team to ensure our pupils needs are fully met from a multidisciplinary perspective.  All our pupils have an Education and Health Care Plan which inform individual education plans and provide tailored learning steps which enable them to progress at an appropriate pace. We pride ourselves on the diversity of our population, high standards of behaviour and the respect that pupils show to each other.

We participate in many activities outside school; pupils at Fordwater contribute to their community through charitable work, work experience and participation in local events. We take pride in our links with both the local and wider community.

We care not only for our pupils but also for their parents and carers. We encourage parental participation and working in partnership. Our aim is to help our pupils be healthy, happy, keen learners, well prepared to move on to life after school.

Throughout the school calendar you will have the opportunity to share in the excitement of your child’s education. Do come and see the school for yourself, you will be most welcome. I hope you will find our site informative and will be inspired to want to know more about us. Please feel free to email me directly at the following email address:

The school Business Manager  is Trevor Hood who will make an appointment should you wish to visit. You can contact him at the following email address:

Latest News

Posted on: 13/11/2017

Autumn Term - Second Half 2017

AUTUMN TERM PART 2   Two weeks in and I would like to welcome everyone back to school. I hope you all had a good half term holiday.    I feel that I’m now getting to know the school, the pupils and staff and I am looking forward to a very busy half term with many things happening during November and December, not least the school Christmas Plays.   Since the start of the new academic year we have already taken part in some general activities and fundraising that have been very well received, for example, on 6th October the whole school celebrated Harvest Festival.  This was a huge success and it was fantastic to see the children celebrating in the community.  All contributions were donated to Stonepillow and were very gratefully received – a big thank you to everyone that sent something in. Swiftly following was ‘National Outdoor Learning Day’ on 12th October which was led by Dan Knapp our Forest Schools Co-ordinator and was hugely enjoy by the pupils. Two of our SSA’s Tina Murch and Liz Meek walked the Great Wall of China during the half term holiday in aid of the British Heart Foundation and the pupils also raised over £250 through scaling our own Great Wall of China and making Mooncakes for the British Heart Foundation – everyone’s generosity has been amazing.   The PTFA has met to plan the year’s events including the Christmas Fair which is being held on 5th December between 10am and 12pm. New members are always welcome and if you would like to join or would like to know more then please contact either Ros Gentle on or Tina Hall on   We are hoping to get involved in Tesco Counters at the main Chichester store to help towards providing us with new playground equipment so please keep an eye out for that.   Our Christmas Carol Service is taking place on 6th December at St Pauls Church, Chichester and further details will be sent home shortly.   We have processed the first data analysis of our pupils’ progress and we are really pleased that pupils are making such good and outstanding progress.  Updated details will shortly appear on our website.   This half term we are trialling split assemblies.  Early Years to Key Stage 4 will have their assembly at 9.30am to 10am in the school hall whilst the 6th Form will have a full assembly 9.10am in their department.   Finally, I have already been busy showing prospective pupils and parents/carers for next year’s intake around the school!   I look forward to seeing you all through the festive period which is a very busy period for the School.
Posted on: 5/09/2017

Autumn Term 2017

Welcome to the Autumn Term at Fordwater Hello everyone and welcome back. I hope you have had an enjoyable summer! I am delighted to now be fully in post and am very excited to embark on new adventures with Fordwater school. I have been so impressed with the staff team,  their enthusiasm, dedication and their commitment to providing the best for our pupils. We have started the autumn term with two INSET training days where staff were trained in a range of important topics including safeguarding, E-safety and health care. Staff were also given the opportunity to develop their understanding of the importance of their own well being in the workplace.  I am delighted to introduce Kathryn Crosby who has been appointed as our interim Assistant Headteacher. Kathryn will be in post until, at least, Christmas whilst we work together to formulate the shape of the leadership team going forward into the future. My main priority this term is to maintain stability for the school as there has obviously been a big change in the leadership team due to Sue and Pete’s retirement. I look forward to familiarising myself with daily life at Fordwater whilst establishing plans to continue the schools development. I plan to start by spending time in classes and experiencing life within the school. I am really looking forward to getting to know the pupils.  The autumn term is always my favourite in school with lots of festivities on the horizon as summer fades and the evenings draw in. As soon as I have my feet under the table I will update the latest news with plans for activities and events for the term along with achievements and headlines as they happen. I am committed to doing my best for Fordwater and taking the school from strength to strength, building on the great work that has gone before.  Please feel free to contact me at any time. I look forward to meeting you all in due course.
Posted on: 19/06/2017


As you are all aware I am retiring after 10 years as Headteacher of Fordwater School at the end of this term. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you for all your support and best wishes and welcome your new Headteacher Sophie Clarke who has been appointed from September 2017, see message from her below. Peter Tambini Assistant Headteacher and Suzanne Carn Swans Class Teacher are also retiring at the end of this term so September will bring lots of changes for Fordwater. There will be a Farewell Tea Party on Wednesday 19th July from 1.45 – 3.00pm for any parents and carers who would like to come and join us for tea and cake and say goodbye to the three of us. “I am delighted to have been appointed as the new Headteacher at Fordwater.  I am looking forward to starting in September, getting to know your children and meeting you all. I have worked with children with special needs all of my professional life.  Over the years I have worked my way up in a special school setting from Teaching Assistant, Teacher, Head of Department, Deputy Headteacher and Headteacher.  For the last 10 years I have worked in a large residential school supporting young people with a range of needs and have lots of experience to bring with me to Fordwater. I am passionate about ensuring the very best outcomes for your children and believe in working together to achieve that aim.  I hope you will find me to be positive, enthusiastic and approachable.  I believe in making every moment count for our young people and I will do everything to ensure a vibrant, fun and engaging environment for them to thrive in. I know what an important and special place Fordwater is.  I fully intend to work with the staff and pupils, the governors and yourselves to ensure stability for the school and am excited to plan for its development into the future.” Sophie Clarke
View All News