The Woodland Retreat was officially opened at Ravenshall School on Thursday, November 16.The Woodland Retreat was officially opened at Ravenshall School on Thursday, November 16.
The Woodland Retreat was officially opened at Ravenshall School on Thursday, November 16.

Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday legend opens Dewsbury special school’s ‘magical’ outdoor learning resource

A ‘magical’ outdoor learning resource - largely funded by a children’s charity - at a Dewsbury special school has officially been opened by former Huddersfield Town striker Andy Booth.

The Woodland Retreat was unveiled at Ravenshall School, on Ravensthorpe Road, on Thursday, November 16, in a special ceremony attended by volunteers from Wooden Spoon, which helped to fund the project, Mark Eastwood MP, school staff and pupils, and Mr Booth, who is now an ambassador for the Terriers.

The vast space, which has numerous activity stations including a big round house with a firepit, a willow hut, a mud kitchen, an accessible pond and picnic benches, will create opportunities for the setting’s children - who have special educational needs and disabilities - to access outdoor learning as well as to build resilience and communication skills.

The school’s fundraising manager, Charlotte Gray-Sharpe, said:

“It is absolutely amazing. From the point where we started to the point we are at now, it is just unrecognisable. We have got so many different areas which meet so many different childrens’ needs to inspire their imaginations.

“It is a magical space. Our pupils have built two of the structures - the round house and willow hut - and it will be great if other local schools want to take a look and use the space as well, as it is a fantastic resource to be able to have.

“We have had wonderful support for the project - from Wooden Spoon, Masons and a number of local and national charities - so it is a big thank you to everybody. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. We can’t thank them enough.”

Wooden Spoon is a grant-making charity which helps to fund life changing projects across the country.

Stuart Watson, the volunteer chairman of the charity’s Yorkshire region, said:

“We were extremely pleased to put funds behind this, but it is the school that has done all of the hard work building it.

“It is marvellous and it will be great to see the children get the benefit of it.”

Thornhill Lees-born Mr Eastwood, who is the MP for Dewsbury and a campaigner for SEND, added:

“It is unbelievable. It is an amazing amount of money that has been raised by the charity. We need schools like this to cater for everybody, so that every child gets the same opportunity in life. That’s really important.

“It’s environmentally friendly, it allows children to play safely and it gives them sensory experiences as well which is so important when you have got children with quite adverse special educational needs and disabilities.”

Headteacher Rik Robinson said: “We have got a resource that will have a massive impact on what our children do and how our children feel.

“Something like this will make a massive difference to how they access learning. It is the start of a journey and we are really excited about our outdoor learning action plan as we move forward.”

At the cutting of the ribbon to official open the new outdoor area, Mr Booth added:

“I feel honoured. It is absolutely fantastic and I am sure the children will get a lot of outdoor learning done and will really enjoy it. I would love to come back and help out whenever I can.”

Here are 16 photos from the grand opening of the Ravenshall Woodland Retreat