Springfields Academy won the TES Special Needs School of the Year 2012 at a ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in London and to cap it all they also won Overall Outstanding School of the Year award too.
Springfields Academy in Wiltshire is a mixed school for 76 pupils aged 7 to 17 years who have emotional, behavioural and learning difficulties. They board 5 days a week and either go home or go into other residential accommodation at weekends and during holidays. It also provides vocational tuition for up to 500 pupils from both mainstream and special schools.
Head teacher Trystan Williams believes that the school should help the pupils to achieve more than they ever thought possible. The school is well known for being Extreme – in the best possible sense. 10 pupils took part in The Hottest Classroom, one of a series of observational documentaries under the banner of ‘The Extreme Classroom’ broadcast by the BBC. They challenged themselves with a nine day trek across the floor of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania in 40 degree heat. This was their second extreme challenge as a group went to the Arctic, to The Coldest Classroom where they learnt to walk on icefields, camped in sub zero temperatures, tracked two polar and walked for several hours on glaciers.
The school has many children with dyslexia and dyspraxia and was one of the first to adopt the Dore Programme for its pupils. This is an exercise programme designed to stimulate the cerebellum and improve balance, coordination, eye tracking and concentration.
Now the school has its own Dore room where pupils work on exercises for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon. Williams is determined that children who lag before will not just catch up with the rest of their class but will build their skills to such an extent that they are turned onto learning and enjoy school.
Pupils at Springfields Academy were delighted with the two awards. “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.”