Established in the early 1980s, Ruskin Mill Trust has extensive experience of supporting students whose needs cannot be met in mainstream settings. The registered charitable organisation operates an expanding network of specialist schools and further education colleges across the UK, including sites in Gloucestershire, Birmingham, Yorkshire, Pembrokeshire, County Durham and Edinburgh.
A holistic approach to education is employed at Ruskin Mill Trust, with a focus on experiential learning in fields such as the arts, agriculture, and the environment, which is interwoven with mandatory outcomes of the curriculum. All of the services that the Trust provides are rated ‘Good’ or higher by Ofsted or its Welsh equivalent.
This £3m loan facility from Triodos Bank, a specialist in positive social and environmental lending, builds on a longstanding relationship with Ruskin Mill Trust that spans 20 years. The new funding, as well as a generous gift from Catherine Grace Trust, has allowed the Trust to progress its long-held aim of opening a school in Bristol. The site provides 18 acres of land near Westbury-on-Trym at the edge of the city, which allows for Ruskin Mill’s unique method, Practical Skills Therapeutic Education. The curriculum offers extensive outdoor and land-based opportunities using biodynamic horticulture methods, alongside harvesting the materials needed for the children’s craft curriculum.
Grace Garden School will offer both day and residential placements. A planned programme of study will be developed for each young person in collaboration with education, drawn from the inspiration of Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophic therapy and care teams to support integration into the community. Students will also be supported around full living skills, with social interaction and contribution to the community a key focus.
Francesca Meynell, executive principal of Grace Garden School, said: “We are so fortunate to have found a wonderful site for our new school: we have 18 acres of cultivated land on the edge of the city, bursting with potential for our work.”
Phillip Bate, South West regional team manager at Triodos Bank UK, said: “We aim to deliver positive impact through our lending, and a key area of focus is ensuring that all children have access to education and a good quality of life. We’ve worked with Ruskin Mill Trust for over two decades now and are delighted to help support more children to benefit from its holistic approach to learning.”
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About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Germany, as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands and active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 63 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.