Welcome from the Headteacher

Sophie Clarke


Welcome to our website. My name is Sophie Clarke and I am very proud to be 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 needs. We have an experienced and committed team who are dedicated to high standards of education, care and supporting pupils to regulate. We aim to make the learning experience fun with a specially designed personalised curriculum that meets the specific needs of each individual. 

There are 19 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. We are very mindful that many pupils are with us at Fordwater for 15 or more years, therefore it is very important that we offer a progressive learning environment where knowledge, skills and experiences are built on during each pupil's journey through the school and through the key stages.  We are future focused for each pupil with Preparation for Adulthood being woven throughout the curriculum. 

Our vision and values underpin our ambitious expectations for our whole school community. Priority is placed on positive relationships between staff and pupils, pupils and pupils and within the staff team. A culture of "relentless positivity" is born out in the atmosphere within our school and in the respect we have for each other. 

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,  multi sensory rooms, dedicated physiotherapy space, sensory garden, as well as 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, Occupational 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 through an individual "My Learning Map" which enable them to progress at an appropriate pace. 

We are very visible in our community and 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 have a focus on ensuring the wellbeing of all our community, be this through commissioning clinicians to support staff or through our CPD program which ensures all staff are constantly developing and learning to best support pupils and grow as professionals. 

We also have ALOT of fun, through exciting activities in our curriculum and through our special events which you can enjoy seeing examples of on our website. 

We care not only for our pupils but also for their parents and carers. We encourage parental participation and working in partnership. Through our Community Hub we ensure we are active members of the community, reaching out with events and workshops to enrich the lives of many.  This also extends to other professionals and colleagues in school who we support in sharing our expertise in working with children with SEND. 

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 on one of our open evenings, you will be most welcome. I hope you will find our website informative and will be inspired to want to know more about us. Please feel free to email me directly at the following email address: