“No Barriers Only Potential”
The Brunel SEN Multi-Academy Trust (Brunel SEN MAT) started with the ambition to make a difference.
When Jackie Smith became Headteacher of Uplands School in 2009 she decided that they would be the ones to do things differently. With the support of a determined workforce, they transformed Uplands into the vibrant community that it is today. Focusing on Person Centred Planning which was integral to planning for the future, they introduced the Learning Mentor Programme and a bespoke educational package tailored for students with ASC/SCID. They redesigned the curriculum, the staffing structures, and their entire approach to SEN Education, which is totally inclusive where everyone is welcome and putting families first. It was no longer about supporting their students, it was about creating new opportunities to enable them to support themselves.
Uplands became a thriving learning environment where each student was able to make great progress. Uplands developed a strong partnership with their neighbouring primary school, Brimble Hill School. Together they created a seamless transition process from Primary to Secondary Special education for their children and young people. However, it was recognised that there were not enough opportunities for their children and young people once their statutory education was complete. Children and young people often left school to a life of leisure and little opportunity to practice the skills they had learnt during their education.
In March 2012 Uplands Educational Trust (UET) was established, a non-profit organisation, dedicated to improving lives across Swindon by providing meaningful and engaging further education and work experience placements for young people and adults. UET in 2018 now oversees 5 charity shops, a Community Centre, Farm and Post 16 SEN College.
Successfully opening in September 2013, Horizons College is a unique Further Educational Provision for young people aged 16-25 that offers a range of vocational and skill based education opportunities. Horizons College empowers their Learners by teaching them skills transferable to employment in the local community. Horizons College has a holistic learning programme for young people which is challenging and relevant to support individual progression and preparation for adulthood.
The success of Uplands School and their partnerships with Brimble Hill Primary and Horizons College has been nationally recognised. Uplands is now a double awarded Ofsted Outstanding School following their inspections in both 2014 and 2017. Uplands School was named the ‘Best Overall School’ at the prestigious Times Educational Supplement (TES) Awards 2015 and Jackie Smith was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to Special Education. This is all due to the Trust’s forward
thinking ideas, determination and the unwavering support of staff, parents, carers, and the Swindon Community.
Uplands, Brimble Hill and Horizons wanted to share their knowledge and expertise with other SEN Schools. They envisaged a family of bespoke Special Schools and Educational Provisions that could support and develop each child in their journey from infancy to adulthood.
In August 2018, we achieved this goal, and are now an established Multi-Academy known as the Brunel SEN Multi-Academy Trust (Brunel SEN MAT). Jackie Smith, now CEO of the Brunel SEN MAT, is supported by experienced Heads of Provisions who work collaboratively across the MAT to achieve the best outcomes for every child and young person.
Following the positive outcomes of the Learning Mentor Programme at Uplands School and the demand for ASC Education in Swindon, the Trust will expand further with the opening of Churchward Free School in September 2018. Churchward School is a Secondary Special Free School for students aged 11-19 years with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and/or Social Communication Interaction Difficulties (SCID). Churchward School will open in September 2018 in a temporary specialist centre with the intent of moving to a permanent school site, custom built for Churchward school students, in May 2020.
Furthermore the Trust are also opening ASC Nursery in November 2018. All Aboard! Nursery’s mission is to deliver life changing support to 3-4 year olds with additional needs and disabilities and their families, by providing specialist learning through play.
The Trust will also be welcoming The Chalet School in to the Brunel SEN MAT in December 2018. The Chalet School are highly knowledgeable in ASC Education and we look forward to including them into the Brunel SEN MAT.
BSM leadership, at all levels, has proven and well-founded skills and experience in all aspects of governance and SEN education. Governed by a MAT Board comprising of experienced Education and Business Professionals, Experienced Local Governing Committees (LGCs), committed and knowledgeable Heads of Education Provisions, and supported by the Central Service Team; the Brunel SEN MAT is now a flourishing organisation that will continue to break down barriers and deliver life changing outcomes.