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Whole School Vision, Values and Ethos

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 & Nexus Department


Briarwood secondary department caters for pupils aged 11 -16 years old with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Profound & Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) and Autism (ASD). The department is made up of 7 classes and 2 classes within the Nexus provision. Pupils have access to a sensory room, a sensory integration room, design technology room, library, Hydrotherapy pool, sensory garden, large sports court and a large outside play area which includes play and Gym equipment.

Our timetable ensures that pupils have access to a full engaging and fun curriculum whilst balancing it with promoting independence and the life skills needed to become successful young adults, as well as personalising the approach to individual needs.

We deliver a KS4 curriculum, which prepares our young adults for Post-16 and life beyond Briarwood. Providing opportunities for pupils to gain accreditations in ASDAN, and experiences in the community to promote their life and independence skills and have confidence and the understanding of the world beyond school.

We promote healthy lifestyles throughout everything we do and make sure that all pupils have access to regular opportunities to enrichment to help keep them active. We have strong links with Bristol Bears and they deliver bespoke sessions and are able to provide opportunities to attend sports days with other schools and settings. We have also recently introduced an All Move programme to embed sports mentors across the department.

We recognise the importance of a positive working partnership with parents / carers, social care, health and education to ensure that the whole child is ready to learn when they attend school. The pupils wellbeing, views and best interests are placed at the heart of everything we do.  We regularly celebrate all achievements of all pupils.


The Nexus provision sits within the Secondary site of Briarwood School. Nexus provides bespoke educational programs and positive behaviour support for pupils with severe learning difficulties and associated challenging behaviours. The aim of this alternative approach is to support pupils with a bespoke personalised approach, where challenging behaviour risks their exclusion from education. This is achieved by working in small groups to focus on re-engaging their learning by ensuring time is spent on their individual needs and teaching them the skills and qualities they need to fully integrate into a suitable key stage setting.

All staff that support pupils in the Nexus provision are fully trained and experienced to work within the provision and support the pupils on their journey while they are with us. Classrooms 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 to ensure they are current working documents to best support the needs of the pupils.

We have a strong team of staff who support pupils and deliver personalised interventions across Secondary & Nexus to those pupils that require additional support. They pride themselves on building strong positive relationships with all class teams to ensure they can best support all pupils and our families.

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