News Blog

Posted on: 13/05/2020

Fordwater Update

Fordwater Update Dear Parents and Carers, I hope this correspondence finds you all well. I am writing to update you on the current situation following Sundays announcement from the Prime Minister. Since Sunday there have been several documents published that have talked about more pupils returning to school. Specifically primary aged children in identified year groups. Special Schools have NOT been asked to bring specific year groups back into school. We have been asked to continue to support children of keyworkers with no other childcare options and children who for different reasons are some of the most vulnerable. These pupils will mostly have social workers who have been closely involved in risk assessing their attendance at school with school leaders and the safeguarding team. None of these pupils are currently in school full time. This week we have increased our numbers on site by a very small number who fall into this category. This is an indication of how we are looking to slowly reintroduce pupils into school. However this needs to be incredibly measured, risk assessed and monitored. There is no definitive date for increasing numbers and we will continue to reintroduce pupils on a case by case basis if it is safe and possible. In many ways our position at school remains unchanged and we will not make any huge changes in increasing numbers until we have clear evidence that it is safe for more pupils to be in school. We want to try and provide some time in school for Year 14s before the end of the Summer Term. Obviously this is only if it is appropriate for the individual and if parents are comfortable and happy with what we propose. As yet we have not planned this. As I have indicated in the Bugle we are not expecting pupils to return to school if parents and carers feel they are safer at home. Whilst I know that in some cases it is hard, in the vast majority of cases, home remains the safest place for our children. Whilst we are all desperate to have pupils back in and whilst we know the benefits of school for our young people we have to ensure that it is safe for the whole school community. We need to ensure we have enough staff on site who are able to work safely with our pupils. Maintaining social distancing is very difficult in a school such as Fordwater and therefore in order to try and maintain any of the national guidance we cannot have too many pupils and staff in school at any one time. We will continue to call you weekly to see how you are. Please continue to use the support email if you have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed by school leaders. We will continue to update everyone via ParentMail and with the weekly Bugle. It has been wonderful to see such lovely pictures of our pupils at home during this time. We will continue to provide fortnightly individualised class newsletters to help families with home learning options. We will update our website regularly with activities and information. Annual Review packs will be sent out to each family in the coming weeks. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s current EHCP needs whilst they are at home then please discuss that during your weekly call with your teacher or use the support email. Thank you to everyone in the Fordwater community for their ongoing support and teamwork during this time. Safety and Wellbeing of everyone is our priority and we are doing all we can in this difficult time to try and prioritise that. Stay Safe and Stay Well. Sophie
Posted on: 30/03/2020

Online Curriculum Offer

Dear Parents and Carers, As you know we are working hard behind the scenes to provide you with some supportive learning resources developed specifically for our pupils. We know there are lots of lovely pre- prepared online activities for you to access, but these are not always appropriate for Fordwater learners. Therefore the teachers are busy creating activities you can successfully try at home and are also making short personalised videos as well as sourcing the most useful online links. Please go to the Fordwater website and find Learning from Home in the menu bar across the top. Click on here and you will find a drop down menu of teaching activities to choose from. Please be patient, this is new for us and our teachers are doing their best to get work made for you as well as many of them having their own children to look after at home whilst they do this!  We will add learning material all the time as it gets made so please visit often and select what you feel is the best fit for you and your family. In addition to the support material and videos on our website every teacher will start to send home a fortnightly newsletter for their class with teaching ideas for the summer term. The first newsletter will be sent to you immediately following the Easter Holidays and will have links, and a few simple activities you can follow to support the new topics if you would like to do so. Please check out the section called Support from Therapists and the Communication support pages too. Here you will find blank daily schedules to adapt, ‘Now and Next’ boards and a range of routines to support you at home with personal care and life skills. If there is anything particular you would like us to include please contact me through the email address, so I can make sure it gets on the website for all parents to benefit from. In the meantime, however long that may be, please remember home is a very different environment to school and we fully understand how difficult it can be trying to continue learning with your children. The most important thing is always continuing to support communication and maintain positive relationships, everything else will be a bonus! All the best to you and your families, Kathryn Crosby - Deputy Head
Posted on: 26/03/2020

Free School Meals Offer

Dear Parents and Carers, Dear Parents/Carers I am pleased to announce that as of next Monday those pupils in receipt of Free School Meals will have a food ‘box’ delivered to school. Unfortunately this service is not being provided for those pupils on Universal Free School Meals (the entitlement for all year groups Reception, 1 and 2 pupils), only those who are in receipt of certain benefits. If you are not sure about your eligibility please do not hesitate to contact us on the support email If your financial situation has changed as a result of the current pandemic, and you wish to see if you now qualify for Free School Meals, please follow the link below: We are currently looking at the best and safest way to distribute these ‘boxes’ to you and this will be communicated either this Friday or Monday next week. These ‘boxes’ are coming centrally from County, due to the nature of what is able to be provided it may be that the food is not necessarily appropriate for all eligible pupils, ie those on a blended diet or pureed food. It is likely the offer will be food that could create a sandwich lunch box type daily meal. However families may wish to continue to receive these ‘boxes’ in order to support the rest of the family in this challenging time. If you do not wish to receive this food ‘box’ please can you let me know via and we will look at distributing it to another family who we know may be going through a difficult time as a result of the situation we are currently in. Best wishes Vicky Oliver-Catt​ - Deputy Headteacher
Posted on: 20/03/2020

Latest Update - Reference School Closure

Dear Parent and Carers, I hope you have all been well today. Thank you to all those who have communicated with me following my previous ParentMail. We are all trying to navigate a fast changing picture with government guidance that sometimes feels contradictory. The senior team will meet on Monday (remotely) to discuss the current situation. We have been working hard to ensure we are planning as best as possible for the school community to continue albeit remotely. I am very insistent that the Fordwater school site remains heavily restricted next week for obvious health and safety reasons. We are looking closely at what we can achieve safely for keyworker families. If you are a keyworker parent that hasn’t already contacted the school then please do so by emailing the school office or Some keyworkers may wish to keep your children at home but some of you will need support in order to do your front line work in this crisis. We are obviously upset that we cannot run Fordwater as normal over the coming weeks but it is simply not possible for us to offer support to each pupil at the current time. We will listen to parents and carers and look at supporting where we can on a case by case basis in line with the Department for Educations guidance for special schools. The overwhelming message from Public Health England is to keep yourself and children at home to limit the spread of the virus. Please email me with any thoughts or concerns and rest assured we are working hard as a team to try and ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone. The team are working hard on putting together some excellent Fordwater online resources as part of our online home learning curriculum offer. A separate ParentMail will come out about this early next week. Try to have a good weekend where you can. Kind regards Sophie Clarke  
Posted on: 19/03/2020

Latest update regarding School Closure

  PLEASE NOTE THAT PARENTMAIL IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL ISSUES AND WILL BE UPDATED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Dear Parents and Carers, I appreciate the overwhelming support from you following the decision to close Fordwater on Tuesday. I understand that some of you will feel vulnerable and this is a highly anxious time to navigate for us all. It is my firm belief that closing the school is in the best interests of the whole school community. In our specialist setting we are not able to consistently maintain the public health guidance on site regarding social distancing and the protection of vulnerable groups. It seems contrary to retract our position due to the government announcement yesterday. If I was to open our site to pupils I cannot guarantee the safety of pupils and staff. This is against our fundamental safeguarding policy that runs through everything we do. We continue to have a duty of care to our pupils and their families and must ensure that we are doing all we can to support you through this very challenging time. We have provided a range of learning resources and activities on our website and plan to support this going forward with lots more remote options including regular welfare calls and supportive conversation. Each family is different and we understand has different needs. We must carefully weigh up risks for all involved when considering if there is any other support we can provide and will look at this regularly. I know many of you have already communicated your wish to ensure your children are exposed to as least risk as possible. There may be some of you who wish to discuss your child’s support needs over the coming weeks and I welcome communication by email by the end of Friday where possible to highlight these issues from individual families. The senior team will discuss this on Monday and look to continue to risk assess the current situation. I know that this is a highly challenging time for all. Please recognise that I firmly want the best for everyone as we are trying to get through this horrible event the best we all can and in the interests of everyone associated with our fabulous school. Kind regards Sophie Clarke  
Posted on: 19/03/2020

Coronavirus Update - Letter from Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers, I hope you are all well during this unprecedented time. Many of you will have followed the latest government announcement last night regarding school closures for all, except children of frontline keyworkers and vulnerable children. In this announcement children with EHCPs were mentioned in the vulnerable category. Obviously,  this effects all of the children in our school. Fordwater closed on Tuesday for very good reason. The health and safety of pupils and staff and the complexities and vulnerabilities involved in our special school of trying to navigate the virus spread, along with maintaining safe staff numbers to care for pupils, made remaining open untenable. I am responsible for my pupils and staff and am struggling to see how I can maintain their safety on site during this time when social distancing guidance alone cannot be reliably enforced due to the nature of our special children. I am waiting today to discuss the announcement with senior education officers in West Sussex and my other special head colleagues to further understand the implications of this announcement for Fordwater. At the moment the school is closed for the reasons I emphasised. I will update you as soon as I have any additional information to give you. Safeguarding pupils and staff at Fordwater is always my priority and I will not do anything to compromise that. I would welcome your initial views by email or to our support desk. Thank you to those who have already messaged me. Kind Regards Sophie Clarke
Posted on: 3/09/2018

Autumn Term 2018

Welcome back everyone to a new academic year.   I hope you all have had a fantastic summer and enjoyed the sunny days with family and friends.  We are looking forward to getting back into the swing of school life.   We started off the academic year with two busy INSET days.  On Monday we kicked off with our Fordwater Values training.  The staff worked together to look at different Values that matter to us as individuals, groups and at an organisational level. Through group activities and workshops we discussed the importance of a shared Value based Culture and Identity at Fordwater.   At the end of the day we came up with 6 Values that we now identify as our Core Fordwater Values: Fun, Respect, Achievement, Independence, Fairness and Understanding.  We are excited to work on these Values over the course of the year.   Our 2nd training day ensured staff are up to date with important statutory training including Safeguarding, Universal Medical Precautions, E-Safety and Sensory Processing.   We welcome 2 new SSA’s, Charlotte and Danielle, to the school.  We welcome Roy, our new Governor (see Governor’s Page) alongside our new Clerk to the Governors, Carol.  Vicky Oliver-Catt has now started in post as our new Deputy Head.  She is looking forward to meeting with you over the coming months.   We have many exciting things on the horizon this year including working on developing our Curriculum and assessment, amongst many other initiatives.   Autumn is always a really busy term at school with lots of exciting things to look forward to including Harvest Service, Jeans for Genes, Duke of Edinburgh residential and everything that comes with Christmas.   Look out for our weekly newsletter that will be sent to you on Parentmail giving you our highlights for the week and any important dates that are upcoming.  The pupils will this week name the newsletter and we hope to introduce this communication within the next few weeks.   I am delighted to be starting another exciting year at Fordwater and have no doubt we will have a great year full of joy and achievement.   As always please contact me, Kathryn or Vicky if you have any questions.   Sophie