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Silverwood SEND School

Wiltshire, UK

Silverwood School Enscape image

project overview

Ensuring every child with SEND receives the best education possible

Silverwood School places the safety, comfort and wellbeing of Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) students at its heart. The 350-place net zero carbon school will provide a bespoke learning environment from nursery to post-16, for students with moderate and complex needs.

Encompassing new build and refurbishment on the Rowde Campus in Wiltshire, our holistic approach makes sure spaces are inclusive and engaging, whilst also being entirely adaptable to individual learning and physical needs

Surrounded by woodland, students across the full range of abilities will enjoy an enriching learning and social experience with safe access to outdoor courtyards, all weather pitches and sensory gardens.

Project aims

Inherent flexibility to cater for a diverse range of SEND requirements

The brief was clear; create a calm, safe and comfortable space for children and young people across the full range of special education needs - considering visual impairments, profound and multiple learning disabilities as well as the autism spectrum.

Our highly tailored approach prioritises ‘equity on every floor’, understanding the importance of proxemics, compartmentalisation, legibility, movement and sensory overload in ensuring everyone has a chance to thrive and reach their full potential.

Recognising students with special educational needs can find the school environment overwhelming, the facilities are designed entirely around them. With specialised classrooms, a hydrotherapy pool and therapy, sanitary, nurse spaces. Each of the four dining spaces are designed for neurodiversity, catering to diverse sensory needs with large, open spaces, fostering inclusivity and providing comfortable environments for all students to thrive.

Guided by Wiltshire Council’s requirement to achieve ‘net zero carbon – operational energy’ standard, we designed a fully energy efficient environment.

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Rowdeford House
Hydro pool
Wash rooms

design concept

Fostering meaningful interaction between students and teachers

The school’s design incorporates two entrances, managing the beginning and end of each day, with the option to divide the different age groups and needs. All areas are wheelchair accessible, encouraging safe exploration and enjoyment of the outdoors.

The entrances lead into three connected wings of fully inclusive teaching space, organised by age and needs, using a “school within a school” concept. This promotes meaningful interaction and learning experiences in smaller ‘cluster’ spaces without anyone feeling overwhelmed.

Each “school within a school” is connected by a dining area, an open and welcoming space, with expansive views of the courtyards. The courtyards sit at the heart of the school, seamlessly blending the inside and outside, creating cohesion across the spaces.

Our design prioritises inclusivity, with dedicated 'distraction-free' breakout spaces, group rooms and shared sensory and soft areas. A high level of security is prioritised, with an interior layout tailored for wayfinding and maximised opportunities for passive supervision, whilst also providing community access.

Preserving the site's historic character, we repurposed Rowdeford House into science classrooms. By incorporating special access routes, we have made use of the existing utilities, seamlessly integrating the classrooms which simultaneously meet the necessary classroom size requirements.

The hydrotherapy pool and adjacent changing spaces are fully equipped with hoist track system, to support interactive and therapeutic learning activities with no limitations. For greater privacy and comfort, the pool also benefits from a waiting room.

The ceiling-installed hoist access also allows for greater flexibility when using the sanitary and changing facilities. The hygiene rooms can be accessed directly from classrooms, to ensure needs are met with dignity and convenience, with minimal disruption to learning.

Interior Design

Creating a sense of visual calm and relaxation

To help students to feel more relaxed and lessen distractions or discomfort when moving through the building, we used a consistent colour scheme. This simple palette reflects the natural tones of the exposed timber in the school as well as the surrounding woodlands, instilling a sense of calm and avoiding sensory overload.

The interior spaces are configured to keep background noise to a minimum, helping students to stay engaged whether they’re writing, focusing on reading the lips of their speech therapists or immersed in the hydrotherapy pool.

Natural daylight is infused throughout, brightening up the space without allowing it to overheat or invite glare through the building’s logical orientation.

Site masterplan
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Outdoor zones
Bat corridor sections from main sheet

Landscape design

Safely nurturing learning and exploration

Greenery is incorporated throughout the design, encouraging students to connect with the outdoors, improving their wellbeing by reducing stress and calming the mind as well as creating a 10% biodiversity net gain.

Nestled in an open woodland, the design required careful consideration for safety and security of the students. We strategically integrated safe pathways throughout the school grounds, prioritising safety and wellbeing with secure routes around the grounds.

To further enhance students’ learning experiences, we have incorporated a range of opportunities for outdoor and nature-based learning, sport and movement, socialising, play, relaxation and quiet reflection. These spaces are designed to encourage exploration and skills development across all abilities.

Our landscape design also weaves in swales and rain gardens, enhancing the site’s biodiversity and ecological features. Providing students with a safe external space to observe and interact with nature whilst promoting environmental awareness.

For the protection and wellbeing of the local wildlife, a clearly defined bat corridor is embedded into the landscape. This reinforces the existing bat flight routes to the north of the site.


Smart, safe and energy efficient environment

Targeting net zero carbon in operation, our design reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide production through passive design principles. This includes maximising natural daylight, incorporating sensitive acoustics and promoting good ventilation, aligning with the school’s sustainability targets.

The school will generate much of its own energy, utilising photovoltaic panels and already benefiting from an existing energy centre. The energy centre also houses the existing biomass boiler, offering a sustainable, cost effective and efficient heating solution. We utilised cross laminated timber, reducing operation costs alongside occupier operated systems which will enable the school to control their own lighting, heating and ventilation.

key information

Project summary


Wiltshire, SN10 2QQ


Wiltshire Council


7,400 m2




Net zero carbon - operational energy


350 pupil spaces for MLD, SLD, ASD, PD and PMLD
Specialist teaching spaces
Therapy rooms
Sensory garden
Hydrotherapy pool
Multi-use games area
Performance hall
Horticultural garden
Flexible enterprise zone


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