The Woodcroft story
Woodcroft opened its doors for the first time on the 3rd of January 1963. It was during the ‘big freeze’ – the coldest English winter of the last century. Fortunately, our first two pupils lived just along the way in Baldwin’s Hill. By Easter that year the school was well established with twelve pupils, including two with what would now be described as special educational needs.
Woodcroft’s founders Jane and Barry Edwards and Barbara and Keith Reynolds had recognised the need for the school and made their plans whilst on holiday in France the previous year. Jane had worked as a secretary for a neurologist near Great Ormond Street before becoming a teacher. She knew that at that time there was little or no provision for children with disabilities in schools. The idea for Woodcroft was to provide education that could benefit all children, regardless of the severity of any condition.
The two couples, with the support and assistance of their parents and friends, bought the Woodcroft site and worked together to adapt the buildings and plan the curriculum. In the early days Jane and Keith worked in the school alongside Keith’s parents Jim and Lou and Barry’s mother Hettie. Barbara and Barry continued their regular jobs to keep money coming in. Very soon the work of the school received official government approval and Woodcroft gradually expanded to provide special education for pupils from a number of local authorities alongside its mainstream nursery school.
In the mid seventies Barbara and Keith moved to the West Country to run the famous Sally Lunn’s Tea Shop in Bath. Barry and Jane continued with a growing staff team that by then included therapists and medical practitioners as well as teachers and assistants. Woodcroft had always encouraged the integration of pupils from the mainstream nursery and special classes and in the eighties the school developed this pioneering inclusion work more formally.
In the nineties Jane and Barry retired and the second generation of the Edwards family took over. Their children Ben, Daniel and Genni are still closely involved with the day-to-day running of the school and the family is represented on both the senior management team and board of directors.
In 2005 the mainstream nursery closed following the restructuring of preschool education in England and Wales. Woodcroft then concentrated on special education, developing its inclusion programme and pioneering new ways of working with local authority schools. This was followed in 2009 by National Autistic Society accreditation and the development of specialist services, including the provision of daily transport for pupils from a wide catchment area.
Through all these changes Woodcroft’s ethos and flexible child-centred approach has remained the same. Our head teacher Brian and staff continue to innovate and develop, responding daily to the needs of our children, parents and sending authorities.