School with outdoor learning focus finds site

Herald Series: Founders of the Treehouse School, left to right, Sharon Julian and Lee Ryman. Picture: OX49781 David Fleming Founders of the Treehouse School, left to right, Sharon Julian and Lee Ryman. Picture: OX49781 David Fleming

A SCHOOL where pupils will be taught outdoors half the time has finally found a site to use.

Parents are being invited to sign their children up for the new private school near Wallingford, which will focus on outdoor learning.

The primary school is the brainchild of former Wallingford primary headteacher Lee Ryman.

Managers of The Treehouse School in Cholsey are aiming for classes to start this September.

A property in Wallingford Road, Cholsey, has now been secured, and will be adapted once it is vacated at the end of this month.

Ms Ryman, 44 and who lives in the village, said: “We have now found a detached house which we will be renting, so we are making good progress.

“We have been given temporary planning permission to run a school for 15 children aged five to 11.

“We would love to open for the autumn term in September once we have met the Department for Education’s registration requirements.

“Ofsted inspectors will be visiting on July 17 and as soon as we are registered we will open, although registration can take up to six months.

“Our biggest challenge is funding and we will need about £50,000 a year to run the school, but we are optimistic.

“Once we have become established we would like to build our own eco-premises for about 60 pupils.

“We have received a huge amount of support from the local community and we are keen to used recycled furniture, so we are looking for donations.

“The building needs a few modifications and a number of families have already expressed an interest in their children attending the school.”

In April, fundraisers gathered at the Head of the River pub in Oxford to help raise about £50,000 to secure the building in Cholsey.

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Supporters met at the pub and ran, walked or hitchhiked back to Cholsey and raised more than £5,000.

Ms Ryman was headteacher of Fir Tree Junior School for nine years until she retired from there in September, 2010.

The Treehouse School is not receiving any public funding, and will look for support through donations, sponsorship, trusts and grants.

Ms Ryman is being supported by Sharon Julian, former assistant head at Fir Tree Junior School where they worked for eight years.

She was inspired to open the new school after a visit to Sweden where she saw pupils being taught outdoors.

The next Friends of The Treehouse meeting takes place on Monday, July 9 at 7pm in the scout hall in Cholsey.

  • For more information visit treehouseschool.org.uk.

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