Whole School Vision

Enjoy, Engage, Learn

The values of Briarwood School are that all pupils should Enjoy their time with us, so that they can Engage and Learn to their full potential.


  • Our aim is for the School to be a happy, welcoming, nurturing environment, where all pupils feel safe, secure and are ready to learn.
  • All aspects of school life are designed to inspire and engage pupils, by implementing a mix of curriculum areas suitable for the different stages of education, creative approaches and essential life skills.
  • We stress the importance of the personal development of each child and young person, to include social, emotional, physical, spiritual and moral education. These form part of each Pupil’s Individual Learning Map. As well as focusing on English and Maths, we also set skills based targets which promote independence, self-respect, dignity, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-regulation.
  • Through an appropriate and exciting environment, we can meet our aim to value learning, safety, independence and play, ensuring maximum achievement.


  • The role of communication is key in all we do and underpins our approach to learning – each class has a bespoke approach to communication using strategies for both children and adults to communicate effectively. This includes Makaton, PECS, symbols, iPads and Smartboards, photos, Intensive Interaction, music, objects of reference and body signing.
  • We also use our specialist knowledge and skills to effectively meet the needs of pupils with SEND. We undertake regular training in a wide range of well-known strategies including TEACCH for children within the Autistic Spectrum Disorder. We also offer in house “Twilight” training on a number of areas of SEND.
  • We value enrichment and inclusion and include this in the school year through such mediums as sport, dance, music, theatre, celebrations, community visits, charity fundraising, horse riding and swimming.
  • Each child has a personal Engagement Profile which includes specific strategies for staff to use, to ensure engagement for learning is a priority. Each Profile also includes information about our “Optimal Learning Environment. Through refurbishment, planning and careful design, we can ensure an inspirational, accessible and adaptable environment that fosters a culture of learning and meets the requirements of all pupils.
  • Pupils with more complex needs can access the curriculum through the use of multi-sensory approaches.  This enables the children to use and integrate their senses to learn about themselves and the world around them.  The balance between subject based sessions and therapeutic input may be different for each pupils and is planned according to individual needs.
  • Behaviour plans are developed for pupils that may display challenging behaviours. These focus on developing self-regulation, emotional literacy and de-escalation skills.


  • We provide a bespoke approach to learning, to support the needs of children with often complex and widely differing needs. All pupils should be supported to achieve, no matter how small the goal or milestone.
  • Progress of learning, behaviour, physical and emotional development is closely monitored by Teaching Staff, which is fed in to whole school systems of assessment. This ensures we are always aware of where a pupil is on the learning journey and what appropriate next steps are to help them move forward in many areas.
  • We have a developing curriculum, relevant to each stage of the children’s learning journey, which prioritises key areas and an appropriate mix of academic and life skills. See Department Vision Statements and the Curriculum Policy for more details.
  • All staff or professionals working with the pupils should develop a culture of supported independence and encourage pupils to be as independent as possible in the world around them.
  • We also encourage pupils to use and access resources in the local community, in order for pupils to build relationships and engage with their community spaces. We aim to promote the social inclusion of all pupils and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life as pertinent to their circumstances.
  • We are part of Multi-professional teams, working alongside families, education, health, social care, physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists and others. All these people support our ability to offer each pupil an individualised package, to meet all their needs and to ensure they thrive and learn to their full potential.
  • We strongly encourage links with Parents/ Carers as partners in learning through the use of Family Link Workers and involvement in target setting through the EHCP process. We see this is a vital component for our pupils.

Department Visions

Briarwood Pod

Briarwood School took over management of The Pod in September 2015 after a period of supporting the day to day running. The Pod had been part of Barton Hill Primary School and Children’s Centre, however the academisation of the Primary led to the local authority request that Briarwood School take on management and leadership of the specialist provision.

Briarwood Pod is a specialist provision, for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD), Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Autism (ASD) and children with Complex Needs. It is an 18 place provision, with 3 classrooms for children in the Early Years and sometimes Key Stage 1. Pupils offered a place at Briarwood Pod must have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and admissions are through Bristol City Council SEN department.

Briarwood Pod remains on the same site as Barton Hill Academy, retaining good links and relationships with the mainstream provision; however it has its own entrance, reception, staff and specialist facilities.

We support pupils from the East central area of Bristol though some children come from other areas in the city; our pupils have a diverse mix of nationalities and languages.

Our school, although part of Briarwood School, serves as a supportive first placement, for young children who require additional support or who are not currently flourishing in other placements. The school believes that in supporting these children intensively during the crucial early years, the package that they need can be individualised and monitored so that each pupil can meet their full potential. Many of our pupils will continue on to Briarwood School (a specialist provision offering places up to 19 years old), however for some pupils it may be appropriate to move onto another specialist setting or integrate into a mainstream provision, a process that takes place with families and professionals through the annual review.

With this vision in mind we strive to support pupils and their families to develop their own vision for their child, around learning and development to enable the best possible outcomes. Briarwood Pod is proud of the close relationships that are built with families, which provide support around the child and signpost to services in the early years.

Briarwood Primary Department

The Primary department meets the needs of children from 5 – 11 years through Key Stages 1 and 2.  We aim to create a safe, caring environment in which everyone is healthy, happy and ready to learn. The majority of pupils come from Briarwood Pod; however we do welcome pupils from a range of other settings (see admissions policy).

We are an ever growing department with eight classes in total. Our building includes two P.E. halls, an AV sensory room, a dark room for pupils with VI/HI needs, a soft play room and a library. Recently we have benefited from the new Post 16 build on site. Primary pupils are able to use these facilities for cookery and such events as theatre productions and Christmas dinner.

We are looking forward to our exciting new playground design in 2017.

The Primary department supports transitions for pupils from a nursery setting to more formal schooling and gets them ready for Secondary, as young adults. We continue to develop the thread of learning started in early years and prepare pupils for becoming young adults as they move to secondary provision.

We cater for pupils with a range of needs (SLD, ASD, and PMLD) and we respond to these needs through a wide range of teaching approaches.

Briarwood Secondary Department

The secondary department works with pupils from 11 to 16 years old, in Key Stages 3 and 4, with PMLD, ASD and SLD. Pupils are placed in classes according to their learning needs and we have a flexible approach so that placements can be changed as pupil needs change. We have a sensory room, food technology and art room, hall for lunch, assemblies, PE, celebrations and other departmental events, outdoor gardening area and large outdoor play area. Classroom learning environements are set up in line with the ‘Optimum learning environments’ documents for ASD, PMLD and SLD

The particular focus of our work in the Secondary Department, in addition to the whole school vision, is to support our pupils on their way to becoming young adults. That means finding ways for all our pupils to develop their skills, independence and potential in the most appropriate way to each of them- in lesson time, at leisure times, mealtimes and times of personal care.

Pupils are given opportunities to take responsibility for areas of life in the department, when it will be of benefit to them. This can include making certificates, organising equipment and tidying up after lunch. We also have an ethos for caring for each other in the secondary community and caring for our environment. We make sure that we meet as a whole department at least twice a week, and pupils are encouraged to make their own contributions to these gatherings. Visits to the local community take place as much as possible, in order to develop pupils’ skills, confidence and understanding of the world beyond school. Pupils’ academic and other achievements are celebrated with school certificates and at Key Stage 4 all pupils begin the nationally recognised Asdan Transition Challenge accreditation scheme. Every young person will leave us at the end of Key Stage 4 with a certificate of achievement from Asdan. This prepares them well for more in depth ASDAN work completed in the Post 16 Department.

Briarwood Nexus

Briarwood Nexus provides bespoke educational programmes and positive behaviour support for pupils with severe learning difficulties and associated challenging behaviours. The aim of this alternative approach is to provide the opportunity to continue the entitlement for pupils where challenging behaviour risks their exclusion from education. This is achieved by focusing on re-engaging their learning by meeting their individual needs and by making them feel valued and respected. The ultimate purpose is to achieve full integration into a suitable key stage setting.

Educational Programmes are tailored to meet individual needs and are based on a revolving door system with the aim that pupils will transition through three stages towards full integration into a suitable key stage setting.

  • Stage 1 – In-reach support provided to identified pupils, educated within key stage classes as part of a preventative offer. This provision is delivered by trained HLTA’s
  • Stage 2 – Part time packages offering access to the provision for pupils for part of the day, alongside integration within a suitable key stage class. This programme is delivered in Primary Nexus with the support of a trained and experienced HLTA.
  • Stage 3 – Fulltime places based at Secondary Nexus offering bespoke packages for pupils requiring 2:1 staffing in a separate provision with opportunities for reverse inclusion & full inclusion over time.

The teacher and support staff working within Nexus are trained to work with pupils with SLD and behavioural needs and suitable experience. Staff are trained in Team Teach approach to positive behaviour support.

Classroom structures are based on the TEACCH approach and support a model of total communication allowing pupils full access to appropriate means of communication.

Each pupil has a Positive Behaviour Plan and associated Risk Assessment. These are regularly reviewed and updated by the Assistant Head in consultation with the class team.

Briarwood Post 16 department

Briarwood’s purpose built Sixth Form Centre opened in September 2016 and caters for 16-19 year old students with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD), Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Autism (ASD) and Complex Needs. It is a 25 place provision, with 3 classrooms, dedicated art/vocational studies room, Food tech facilities, and a common room for students to relax, socialise and utilise their own time.

The majority of pupils come from Briarwood school however we do also welcome visits and applications from pupils who started their education journey elsewhere.  Pupils offered a place must have a statement of educational needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and admissions are through Bristol City Council SEN department.

Much of the work within Briarwood Post 16 is based on the absolute belief that, fundamental to our role, is planning and preparing young adults for life beyond Briarwood. Within our sixth form, all aspects of the curriculum are based on this ideology fulfilling the Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) outcomes as required by the Department of Education.

PfA identified four key outcomes in relation to preparing young people for adulthood. These are:

  • Employment
  • Health
  • Independent Living
  • Community Participation

We modify the curriculum to ensure that we concentrate on building important skills in readiness for adulthood whilst supporting individuals to reach their full potential and maximise success. Students have access to excellent work experience opportunities and we have strong relationships with external partners who support us to provide exciting and relevant vocational experience. Many of our young people participate in running their own businesses and get involved in market research, shopping for, stocking and selling of goods. This supports the development of key work attributes as well as providing contextualised learning opportunities for Numeracy and Literacy skills eg: money recognition, completion of repetitive tasks and appropriate communication etc.

We actively encourage choice making ensuring that students are key participants in making everyday decisions as well as those about their futures. We recognise the importance of building on interests and the ability to self-occupy and provide leisure opportunities as well as ample socially inclusive opportunities to develop relationships with peers both within and outside of the school setting.

Ensuring that we provide students with excellent opportunities to build on their level of independence is also of the highest priority and shopping, cooking, self-care, health and home maintenance feature highly within the curriculum. We recognise the importance of enrichment and of the arts and work well with external partners to broaden student’s horizons and provide experiences to support personal growth and creativity. We enjoy community participation and ensure that ample opportunity is given for students to develop the skills needed to become responsible and active members of their own society able to make a contribution and excel.

Our curriculum is driven by student need and pathways, however we are able to accredit learning through nationally recognised awarding body ASDAN and all students leave Briarwood Post 16 with an exciting portfolio of qualifications to demonstrate their strengths and achievements to their next providers.

We have an excellent relationship with adult service providers and lead the LDD Post 16 partnership with three special schools. This has enabled us to develop courses offsite exposing pupils to new environments, peers and settings as well as sharing expertise.  This important, inclusive, transition work provides opportunity for young adults to experience adult centred and potentially future provisions in readiness for future destinations. (Please see LDD PowerPoint for further information).

We recognise the importance of working in partnership with parents/carers, the Preparation for Adulthood teams, social care, health, and education to ensure that transitions into the adult services are as smooth and carefully planned as possible. Pupils best interests and views placed at the heart of everything we do with a strong emphasis on preparing them for the journey into adulthood and indeed life beyond Briarwood.