Ripplevale School was founded in 1970 on the current site of the main school. It had previously been known as Ripple Vale House and had served as the family home of the French family (most notable was Sir John Denton Pinkston French, the 1st Earl of Ypres who was born in the house, died in Deal castle and is buried in Ripple Parish church cemetery). It has been a prep school for boys from London called Upton School, a hotel and a bed and breakfast before becoming Ripplevale School.
Ripplevale School started life as an ‘approved’ school for boys and was registered and approved by the Department of Education and Science in 1971. Boys were sent to the school by the courts for a variety of reasons, from ‘bunking off’ school to more delinquent and sometimes criminal activities. The school was wholly residential in those days with dormitories housing up to 12 boys per room in bunk beds. Pupils came to the school at the beginning of a term and only went home at school holidays. Some pupils were placed for 52 weeks a year and lived on site being cared for by the childcare staff 24/7.
In the early seventies a second house was purchased in Deal to accommodate 20 of the younger pupils. They were brought to the main school daily for their education but spent weekends at this house. In 1980 the Government changed the status of pupils and how they were identified and classified. The ‘Statement of Special Educational Need’ became the passport for a young person to have the specialist help and support they needed to access the curriculum with modified teaching methods where appropriate. During the transition to the new system referrals dwindled as pupils got stuck in the system and the house in Deal was closed.
Pupils were initially taught in rooms in the main house until the old stables were pulled down and a new purpose built block built to house the classrooms. This block has been extended over the years and now contains the English, ICT, Domestic Science, CDT, Science rooms and the library. A second block was constructed in the late 80s to add a further four classrooms.
The main house was set aside just for the residential accommodation with the ground floor being used as the daily living area and all the pupils sleeping in bedrooms on the other two floors.
Throughout these years the school offered a full curriculum for its pupils including access to CSEs and a range of other externally accredited examinations including GCSEs and A levels. The school used a combination of outward bound, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, college based training, a smallholding with sheep, goats, chickens, geese, pigs, ducks etc. to supplement the National Curriculum and find new ways to engage the pupils in their education.
Since 1991 the school has been under the current ownership with the school going from strength to strength. It has continued to provide the full National Curriculum via trained and qualified staff who support the pupils through the challenges they face both academically and socially. Our achievements can be mapped by the educational success of our pupils and their ability to become productive members of society with fulfilling lives, families and employment.
Our success has been further recognized by the inspection reports we have received from HM Inspector of Schools, Social Services, local authorities and latterly Ofsted.
Our class sizes have always been low, normally not more than seven pupils to a class and the expertise of our staff has been constantly developed through training and qualifications to meet the distinctive needs of our pupils. Together with this our accommodation has grown to enhance the delivery of these skills to include the purchase of the village primary school to provide education for younger pupils on the autistic spectrum. New changing rooms, showers, toilets and office space have been built on to the gym. Our pupils have benefited from access to college courses, work experience, inter-school sports fixtures, the dedication of outstanding teaching and care staff and the constant desire of all those who work at Ripplevale School to provide the best experience and opportunities for our pupils.