Shepherd’s Hut makes a world of difference for students building classroom society

A charity from the North-East Building Society is giving youth with special educational needs more space to express themselves and get closer to nature.

The Clairvaux Trust has used a £14,610 grant from the Darlington Building to purchase a beautiful shepherd’s hut, which is being used as an extra classroom to produce a range of textiles for students.

The donation came from the Society’s pledge that it would share five percent of its profits with good causes in the community, and the shepherd’s cottage now houses the Trust’s Garden School at Claw Beck Farm, near Croft-on-Tees.

The Trust runs an innovative curriculum – ‘Practical Skills and Therapeutic Education’ – that covers traditional crafts, such as felting, weaving, greenwood work, blacksmithing, pottery, horticulture, animal husbandry and social enterprise, with registered treatments.

The introduction of the shepherd’s hut provided a dedicated area for the production of textiles – using wool from sheep in the farm.

Steve Mackintosh, assistant head teacher, said: “As the school grows, we need more learning spaces and the shepherd’s hut, provided by the Darlington Building Society, is complete with the ethos and aesthetics of the place. It kind of fits.”

The school has 14 students, all benefiting from the shepherd’s hut, and this number is expected to increase to 35 in the next few years.

A traditional spinning wheel is used in the shepherd’s hut, in which students enjoy a “craft from the land” process, which involves cleaning the wool, dying it, and then making a number of practical and decorative items.

“It has been invaluable to be able to provide this learning space for students, and we are extremely grateful to the Darlington Building Society. Their donations have created a different world and it is fantastic to have the support of an organization that works in the local community.” So embedded.”

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Beth Eleanor, textile tutor and teaching assistant, said: “We were pretty restricted before, and textiles didn’t have their place. It is really important for the students to have that quiet corner and they really enjoy their time at the shepherd’s hut. ,

Chris Hunter, chief operating officer of the Darlington Building Society, visited the Clairvaux Trust to see the shepherd’s hut being used.

Chris said: “The Society’s main purpose is to provide mortgages and savings, and we’ve done it since 1856. The Society’s success enables the 5% pledge to make a difference in so many diverse ways. The Clairvaux Trust is an amazing charity and it It’s wonderful to see our donations being put to such creative use.

“The society continues to do well in 2022 and this means we will be able to contribute to more great community projects like this in the future.”

The Clairvaux Trust is part of the Ruskin Mill Trust, which runs four schools, colleges and adult social care services. Clairvaux Garden School is the northernmost of those schools.