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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Outdoor learning at the heart of new school for traumatised children

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Kibble's specialist education centre near Lochwinnoch will use animal-assisted and nature-based learning to help youngsters recover from early trauma

Charity and social enterprise, Kibble, has started the process of creating a new specialist education centre for primary aged children who have experienced early trauma.

Kibble Group purchased the former residential care home buildings of Parkhill House and Garpel House and will now seek planning permission from Renfrewshire Council for the change in use.

The proposals will see the existing building transformed into a small primary campus with residential accommodation for young children aged between five and 12, who have been affected by adversity in their early years.

Kibble has extensively researched ground-breaking methods of care and education by visiting similar centres across the world over the past three years. The campus will be a safe and comfortable environment for primary-aged children that will prepare them for moving on to long-term foster care.

The therapeutic approach to education will allow young people to experience the benefits of outdoor learning alongside National Curriculum based classroom teaching. Natural surroundings create a safe environment for students with special needs, incorporating innovative animal-assisted and nature-based activities. The education centre will eventually accommodate up to 30 pupils.

Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Kibble Group, said: “Kibble believes that the right care and education has the potential to transform the lives of young people, no matter their background or circumstances. The proposal for a new specialist centre is entirely guided by that approach, providing a safe and nurturing environment for young people who have experienced severe adversity in their early years.

“The site of this former care home is the ideal, idyllic setting for this type of campus and we’re due to begin speaking with local community organisations about how we can work collaboratively.

“We have begun the process of applying for planning permission to renovate the two buildings, converting them into modern classrooms and residential accommodation. This will allow us to change the use from a retirement home to a state-of-the-art educational facility delivering tailored support for children.”

Based in Paisley and founded in 1859, Kibble Group is a charity and social enterprise which provides an extensive range of services for children who are at risk or have experienced trauma in their early years. It works with young people from the age of five, providing education and care from centres in Largs, Paisley and Garnock Valley.

Find out more about the proposal at