A special educational needs (SEN) school in Wiltshire has been named as Overall Outstanding School of the Year in the prestigious TES Awards (2nd August 2012).
Springfields Academy has become the first SEN school to win this award. The school also picked up the award for Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year.
The Academy, which has 92 boarding pupils and 500 day pupils ranging in age from 7 to 17, caters for young people with complex learning difficulties such as behavioural, emotional and social difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders.
Of Springfields, the judges said: “Springfields is an extraordinary school, doing ground-breaking work with its own pupils and also providing invaluable support to other schools. In their drive to show pupils that anything is possible, staff from Springfields go to the ends of the earth – literally.”
This refers to the projects undertaken by the staff and pupils at Springfields Academy, including participating in the BBC series Extreme Classrooms. As part of the2011 series Springfields Academy’s principal Trystan Williams accompanied a party of 10 special needs students on a polar expedition, and then this year took another group on a 9-day trek across the floor of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania.
The TES Awards celebrate and reward the professionalism and flair of teams making an outstanding contribution to primary, secondary and SEN schools in the maintained and independent sectors in the UK. Every school participating in the awards has achieved an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating.
“Winning the Overall Outstanding School of the Year Award just goes to show that labels don’t mean anything,” Williams said. “We may be a special educational needs school but we can do just as well and achieve the same, if not better results than mainstream schools.”
Winning the award has created excitement among the pupils, Williams added: “When I told the students we had won the awards, our head boy said to me that if everyone is saying he goes to a good school then he must be a good boy. The recognition amongst peers at other schools and from TES and the Department for Education is a big deal for them.
“So many young people are given labels which are then used as an excuse for under-achievement. This award shows that this doesn’t have to be the case.”