Brunel SEN MAT

About Us - Our Story


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 in to the vibrant community that it is today. They introduced the Learning Mentor Programme; a bespoke educational package tailored for students with ASC/SCID. They redesigned the curriculum, the staffing structures, and their entire approach to SEN Education. 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. They shared the core values of promoting independence, interdependence and celebrating the success of each child. Together they created a seamless transition process from Primary to Secondary SEND education. However, the Uplands and Brimble Hill teams noticed that there were not enough opportunities for their SEND young people once their statutory education was complete.

Together they decided to expand their offer and successfully opened Horizons College in September 2013. Horizons College is a unique Further Educational Provision for young people aged 16-25 that offers a huge range of vocational education. 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, relevant and fun to support individual progression and preparation for adulthood.

The incredible 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 visionary and innovative leadership. 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 results for every child and young person.

Following the huge success of the Learning Mentor Programme at Uplands School and the demand for ASC Education in Swindon, the Trust opened Churchward School, 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 opened 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 2020. The temporary accommodation has been renovated by the Department for Education creating an appropriate and flexible learning environment for Churchward School to develop in its first stages of opening.

Furthermore the Trust are also opened an ASC Nursery in September. 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 October 2018. The Chalet School are highly knowledgeable in ASC Education and we look forward to welcoming them into the Brunel SEN MAT.

With the sponsorship of an Ofsted Outstanding School, Governed by a MAT Board comprising of experienced Education and Business Professionals, and supported by the Central Service Team; the Brunel SEN MAT is now a flourishing organisation that will continue to exceed its great potential.


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