TES School awards 2018 - Brookside Academy
Alternative provision school of the year
Brookside Academy, in Street, is Somerset’s largest primary academy. But at the heart of the school is a 30-place specialist provision that offers education and year-round “wraparound” and short-break care for children with complex and profound learning needs. The school has won this award in recognition of the fact that, alongside a mainstream primary school, it has built alternative provision that is now renowned nationally for its high-quality teaching, learning and care.
However, this was not always the case. In 2013, Ofsted said that the school was not meeting the needs of some of its most complex students. These findings spurred the school into action – it recruited two more teachers, including its first profound and multiple learning difficulties teacher, and invested in an assistant head with a Sendco qualification. Brookside also restructured its school site, remodelling and extensively refurbishing five classrooms to meet specialist needs. This included the creation of a new bespoke sensory room.
The building work was accompanied by an expansion in its holiday provision – in 2017 this was accessed by 64 families with a child with special educational needs and disabilities. Thirty-four of these were families with a child classed as needing high-level one-to-one support at all times.
As a result of the changes Brookside made, in February it was commended by Ofsted for developing a “culture of inclusion throughout the school community” so that “pupils across the school, regardless of whether they are from the mainstream or the specialist provision, forge friendships, develop relationships and value the uniqueness of their school”.
Community and collaboration award
Brookside Academy in Street is Somerset’s largest primary school, with 600 children. The school, built on an ethos of community and collaboration, provides extra services for families with disabled children and new training and employment opportunities for the local area, and it has opened up its facilities to host community events.
Brookside shares best practice in the commissioning and delivery of short breaks for children with profound and complex special educational needs, helping to address gaps in the support system within Somerset. For 50 weeks of the year, it provides 8am-to-6pm affordable extended school provision. Children from both mainstream and specialist schools play and learn together in Brookside’s inclusive holiday club.
The school has provided training for 17 young people from the local area by employing them as apprentices across the school in teaching assistant, nursery, administrative and sports roles. This work has been recognised with Brookside featuring in the national apprenticeship programme top 100 employer list for the past two years. For 10 years Brookside has hosted up to 100 pensioners for an afternoon of entertainment and a buffet tea, with the school arranging minibuses for those who don’t have their own transport.
The lead judge commented: “Out of an incredibly strong category, Brookside Academy shone out as a school that really does not know when to stop caring for the community it serves; a remarkable school offering a remarkable level of wraparound care.”
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