"No Barriers Only Potential"
The Brunel SEN Multi-Academy Trust (BSM) started with the ambition to make a difference to the lives of children and young people (CYP) with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
When Jackie Smith became Headteacher of Uplands School in April 2009 she decided that they would be the ones to do things differently and make a difference. 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 SEND Education. It was no longer about supporting their students, it was about creating new opportunities to enable them to support themselves.
Over the next few years Uplands became a thriving learning environment where each student was able to make great progress. However, the Uplands team noticed that there were not enough skill-based opportunities for their SEND young people once their statutory education was complete and wanted to ensure that all the valuable skills learnt at school were not lost as they went into adulthood. In reality most young people with SEND leaving education at 19 embarked on a life of leisure, which mirrored retirement. In response to this lack of opportunity, Jackie, together with a dedicated Board of Trustees, created Uplands Educational Trust (UET) in June 2012, a unique non-profit charitable trust set up to provide the meaningful and sustainable activity for young people with SEND in their local community.
UET’s desire to create relevant and meaningful work-related learning opportunities lead to the opening of the first UET Charity Shop in November 2012. UET then expanded their offer and successfully opened Horizons College in September 2013. Horizons College was set up as a unique Further Education Provision for young people aged 16-25 offering a range of vocational education leading to paid employment where possible. Horizons College grew rapidly, remaining closely coupled with Uplands School and also forming collaborative working relationships with the other schools to join the BSM. To further develop this collaborative working Horizons College moved from UET to become an active member of the BSM family of Education Provisions.
UET continues to grow and there are now five UET charity shops throughout Swindon, the Community Enterprise Centre (CEC) offering a Skills for Life programme, the Gorsehill Skills for Work hub, the UET Farm, as well as Holiday and Leisure Clubs. These provisions combine to create a 52 week offer for young people and adults with SEND.
Since April 2009, Uplands also developed a strong partnership with their neighbouring primary special 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.
The success of Uplands School 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 school’s forward-thinking ideas, determination, can-do attitude and the unwavering support of staff, parents, carers, and the Swindon community.
Uplands along with Brimble Hill wanted to share their knowledge and expertise with other SEND Schools. They envisaged a family of bespoke Special Schools and Educational Provisions that could support and develop each CYP in their journey from infancy to adulthood.
In August 2018, Uplands and Brimble Hill achieved this goal, and became an established Multi-Academy Trust known as the Brunel SEN Multi-Academy Trust (BSM).
In September 2018 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), opened in a temporary specialist centre, moving to their permanent site in July 2020.
Now established, BSM also opened an ASC Specialist Nursery, All Aboard, in October 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.
BSM then welcomed The Chalet School in to the Brunel SEN MAT in December 2018. The Chalet School are highly knowledgeable in ASC Education and have significantly enhanced the BSM specialist offer.
With the establishment of our subsidiary company, Brunel Education, in September 2019, Horizons College official joined the BSM educational family. BSM now has 6 fabulous SEND provisions working together to deliver unique learning opportunities that lead to significantly improved life chances and outcomes for our CYP with SEND.
In Sept 2019, the BSM is a flourishing organisation that will continue to break down barriers and realise the potential of all, specialising in the special education sector. We commence our second academic year as a boutique SEN MAT with a commitment to continue to make a real difference to the lives of CYP with SEND and also to further develop skills and knowledge of our staff. Jackie Smith, the CEO of the Brunel SEN MAT, is supported by experienced Heads of Education Provisions who work collaboratively across BSM to achieve success at all levels. The Education Provisions continue to provide exceptional education, governed by the BSM Board comprising of experienced education and business professionals and Local Governing Committees, with specialist support from the Central Service Team.