Hear From the Nominees of the nasen Awards

Axcis are thrilled to sponsor a nasen award again this year – find out more about these brilliant awards, who has been nominated and how they feel about it here.

About the awards

The nasen awards seek to recognise and share the best practice which, ultimately, really benefits children and young people with special and additional educational needs and disabilities (SEND).


Axcis are thrilled to sponsor an award again this year. The award we are sponsoring is the Excellent Practice in Special School or Provision Award. This prize is for any special school, setting or provision who have improved outcomes for children and young people with SEND through their outstanding outreach work. But who has been nominated?

Nominees for the Axcis award are:

  1. Fiveways Special School, Inclusion for All
  2. Ladywood School and Outreach Service
  3. Landgate School, The Aspire Federation, Sensory Provision and Support
  4. Oxfordshire Hospital School

What did the nominees have to say?

Here is what some of the nominees for the Axcis award have to say about being nominated:

Ladywood School and Outreach Service

Staff at Ladywood School are thrilled to be nominated for their award

At Ladywood our motto is “Believe and Achieve”. This underpins all the work that we do and is the core philosophy that drives our whole team. We are a School for 130 pupils with complex learning needs. Our Outreach Service supports approximately 1,000 young people in mainstream schools across Bolton LA. In 2012 we became a National Teaching School providing a wide range of professional development opportunities for schools. We strive to encourage excellence in teaching and learning and supporting pupils with SEND. We are hugely proud of being shortlisted for this prestigious award. Our staff work so hard, going above and beyond to achieve outstanding outcomes for young people. Yvonne Heywood, Ladywood School

Fiveways Special School, Inclusion for All

The children at Fiveways Special School having some parachute fun!

As a forward thinking special school, we endeavour to promote inclusion opportunities for all pupils with SEND within our local area. To this end, we have established an outreach support service designed to share our expertise; this is offered through specialist training, professional development and opportunities for us to work alongside pupils and staff in mainstream schools. We are committed to working with schools to increase their confidence, skills and knowledge of appropriate strategies and resources to enable them to effectively support, and fully include pupils with SEND within their own settings. Our inclusion and outreach programmes also have a long and proud history of enabling pupils with SEND to access provision in both mainstream and special schools as well as participating in activities within the local community.


We are delighted to have been shortlisted for this year’s Nasen awards, a platform that acknowledges and celebrates the extensive inclusive opportunities that we have developed in our area of the southwest. Ian Baker, Fiveways Special School

What are the other awards and who has been shortlisted?

A full list of the awards and shortlist can be found on the nasen website. We asked if anyone would like to share something about their provision/how they feel about being shortlisted – here are the responses we received:

Batchley First School

In 2016, Batchley First School successfully tendered a bid to open an Early Years Speech and Language Class for Redditch, alongside our Early Years Specialist Nursery Class.  It became evident that other areas of Worcestershire did not have provision either, so we set up 2 more in Kidderminster and Bromsgrove.


With the support of Speech and Language Therapy as well as the host schools, we are delighted with the outstanding progress that the children in our classes make during their pre school year.  In some cases, it means the difference  between attending a specialist placement or a mainstream school.  We currently support 75 pre-school children and their families across the county in their pre-school year from 4 settings and we hope to expand this in the next few years.


We are absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for the NASEN award.  Everybody has worked so hard to ensure the success of this exciting and worthwhile project, which we hope to continue to offer for many years to come. Sarah Wykes, Batchley First School (Nominated for Excellent Practice in Early Years Award)


Derwen College

Derwen College Leadership Team

Derwen College, in Shropshire, is delighted to have been shortlisted in the NASEN Awards ‘excellent practice in post-16 education’ category.


The national specialist college near Oswestry prides itself on its vocational training and supported living accommodation for young adults aged 16-25. It provides inspirational learning, development and care and enables the achievement of aspirations which transform lives.


Meryl Green, Derwen College Principal, said she was very pleased to have been shortlisted in such an expansive category. She said: “Everyone at Derwen College works hard to ensure that each of our students gets the best chance possible to reach their potential and achieve their aspirations for the future.  We are delighted that our efforts have been recognised by NASEN. It is truly a team effort which couldn’t be achieved without the commitment and creativity of our dedicated staff, it is also testament to the talents and hard work of our amazing learners.” Eluned Watson, Derwen College (Nominated for Excellent Practice in Post-16 education Award)

Gilbrook School

Gilbrook School Leadership Team

As a Leadership Team, we are thrilled to be nominated for this award…part of our core belief in the power of research and the impact it can have on education, and the vulnerable young people we support, is that you have to be able to measure the difference you can make to lives of the most disadvantaged families.


When our families tell us:

“Gilbrook has changed my son’s life. Before he came here he wouldn’t join in class properly and his education was suffering. He has come on leaps and bounds here. Gilbrook feels like an extension of our family, the warmth and love felt during school assemblies is lovely. My son coming here really has improved all of our family’s lives and I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.”


We know we are making that difference and that our compassionate approach to education changes lives. Sarah Long, Gilbrook School (Nominated for Excellent Practice in Primary School Award


Two Rivers High School

I was very surprised to learn that I had been nominated for the NASEN award and even more shocked to be shortlisted.  I am the Head of School at Two Rivers High School, a generic special school for students aged between 11 and 19.  Students have a wide range of needs with most students having cognition difficulties or delay in their learning.


Music has been an important part of my life and as a Head Teacher I still understand the benefit of Music in education and have done everything I can to ensure that Music is offered to all.  Students with special needs often find school challenging either socially or due to the pressures of learning crucial literacy and numeracy skills.  I realise the importance of helping students to gain confidence and Music has been a wonderful source to make this to happen.  I forged links with Make Some Noise over 5 years ago and have gathered charity support to ensure that we can have excellent Music practitioners in school to continue this passion for Music.  It has been wonderful to see the change in students who at first were nervous, would not attend lessons or felt tentative gradually brighten as they could see their personal achievement. Students learnt to play music through Percussion, Ipads, and Keyboards, until, through the Level Up project, they finally built their own pop group with students playing bass and electric guitar, drum kit and vocals.  There have been numerous public performances over the years and it has been amazing to see students with mental health issues smiling and wanting to perform to a packed audience. The success has been tremendous and I am very proud of our students for taking on these challenges and succeeding. Gail Brindley, Two Rivers High School (Nominated for the Excellent Practice in a Secondary School Award)

Discovery Acacemy, Family Footings

The Discovery Academy Family Footings Team

Discovery is a specialist academy in Warwickshire for 80 children and young people with an autism spectrum condition or an identified social, emotional or mental health need. Engaging families is a core focus of our work summed up in the motto of our Trust: Putting Children and Families First. Our approach is non-judgmental and personalised – working in a way that is compassionate, facilitative and flexible to get the best outcomes for each young person. The whole school works closely with families to see their children reach their potential and overcome some of the barriers that have previously held them back. In addition, we have a Family Footings team who add capacity to our engagement with families particularly around supporting key transitions in school life and support for the family. We’re delighted to have been nominated for this award because we are proud of the way we work with families and can’t imagine working any other way! Susan Camps, Discovery Academy (Nominated for the Exceptional Parental Engagement Award)

Whitefield Schools

Whitefield Academy Trust  In North East London encompasses two schools:  Whitefield Schools has a national and international reputation for its work with children and young people with autism, learning difficulties and complex needs. Joseph Clarke school offers education and support for pupils with vision impairment and additional needs, including autism.


‘Employability’ has been at the heart of our Post-16 provision for many years and for the last 5 years our Project SEARCH Supported Internship Programme has formed a core part of that mission. Project SEARCH provides the opportunity to have supported placements in large employers, assistance in finding full-time paid work and then subsequent support for both graduates and employers once they are in work. This is our sixth year coordinating the Project SEARCH programme in North East London in partnership with Barts Health NHS Trust. Offering training and job placement in two local hospitals. We have maintained an very high success rate of interns who complete the programme, moving into full-time paid employment. The programme has proven so successful that it now takes special needs students from many other schools and colleges in Waltham Forest and the neighbouring boroughs.


Jamie Bargeman, Whitefield Schools Post-16 manager who coordinates Project SEARCH calls it “the most successful thing I’ve done in my teaching career, seeing the opportunities and outcomes for young people that just weren’t there before”. I am delighted by the nomination: For the whole team; the Young people, Directors of the Whitefield Academy Trust, tutors , job coaches, , mentors and all the people at Barts Health NHS Trust. The recognition that comes with a nomination is very significant. The nomination has given us a chance to be recognised for what  the young people and the Project Search Team have achieved so far in the field of employment and disability.” Jamie Bargeman, Whitefield Schools (Nominated for Excellent Practice in Post-16 education Award)


Whitefield Primary School

Whitefield Primary School is a mainstream primary school based in one of most economically and socially deprived areas of Liverpool. Our whole school approach is based around inclusion, aspiration and achievement. We have developed from a failing school in 2009 to one with sustained high levels of attainment and progress.


Whitefield is highly inclusive and holds National Inclusion Flagship status Learning is highly personalised and matched closely to needs. This is done through detailed Pupil Progress meetings which include classroom teachers, support staff and senior leaders. We follow a model of evidence based early intervention, reducing and addressing needs as the children move through the school. We can then continue to meet more specific learning needs in Key Stage 2.


We stay at the forefront of the latest methods and strategies to support SEN pupils. For example, we are using a Social Thinking approach to develop the social awareness and group collaboration skills of all SEN pupils. We use this cutting edge approach alongside LEGO therapy as the best possible package of support for our pupils who may have difficulties with social interaction, learning, communication, group-working, attention and concentration and mental health. The Social Thinking approach is new to the UK and is starting to be more widely known in speech and language therapy services but not yet schools.


Our staff are highly trained in responding to children with emotional and mental health difficulties and we run an increasing number of high quality interventions to support these children including yoga and mindfulness, LEGO therapy, Pet therapy, Music therapy, Time to Talk and Think Yourself Great. Our staff have also been trained in understanding issues around attachment, trauma, the neurological responses to stress and how to have conversations with children about emotions and so respond to the development needs of the child rather than the behaviours they are displaying.


All this is underpinned by our values of Courtesy, Care and Confidence help children to develop the skills and attributes they need to have successful futures.


Staff and children at Whitefield are thrilled to have been nominated for this award and also so proud that their Inclusion Manager, Natalie Menagh has been nominated as Inspirational Leader. Marie Beale, Whitefield Primary School (Nominated for Excellent Practice in Primary School Award)

Phoenix School

Veronica Armson with some students at Phoenix School

Phoenix School is a well-established special school, which offers a unique service to the children of Tower Hamlets.  We offer a rich and stimulating curriculum, which is individually tailored reflecting good practice in an environment that supports the pupils’ learning. The school offers a range of sensory and therapeutic interventions and a multidisciplinary approach to pupil needs. The school has developed a holistic approach working in partnership other agencies, parents and families to have their needs met from one centre. There is a strong focus on maintaining good relationships between home and school. We encourage respect for others, good manners and tolerance.

Parents are an integral part of Phoenix school. Their commitment to and support of the school is essential to ensure their child has the best outcome. We have therefore developed programmes that enable parents to participate and feel welcome in school. We have a successful Parent Autism Support Group that runs training once a month promoting parent participation and offering time to talk to each other. Friends of Phoenix meet once a month and work together on projects within the school, often cooking or making resources. This is a social group and well supported by our home school liaison officer. There are also weekly courses for new and existing parents to support them with their understanding of autism. These larger groups are then split into smaller focused training on areas that are more specific to parent needs.
Parents are taught strategies and communication techniques by attending 1 to 1 sessions in the classroom with their child. This is alongside trips out with classes and sharing events within school so we build good relationships with the whole family.

Stewart Harris

Parents have access to our multi-disciplinary team that consists of a social worker, educational psychologist, clinical psychologist, doctor, nurse and occupational therapist and can arrange meetings which provide support at home and strategies in school.


Important links with parents are formed from the very beginning. Parents visit the school and once their child is accepted they are supported with two visits to school and a planning meeting to establish the relationship with Phoenix. We offer an induction for all new parents to ensure expectations and training is agreed and obvious for all.
The community that has been established with parents is supported with excellent home school liaison and training. A clear understanding of every child’s needs and parent well-being is also assured. Alongside all the training, parents are encouraged to support themselves by attending English language classes and social groups.
We value our parents and feel privileged to involve them in every aspect of school life. Veronica Armson and Stewart Harris, Phoenix School (Nominated for Exceptional Parental Engagement Award)

Oxfordshire Hospital School

Telepresence robot at Oxfordshire Hospital School

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for a nasen award in the category for Excellent Practice in Special School or Provision. The Oxfordshire Hospital School is an Ofsted Outstanding community special school with a mission to deliver the highest quality, personalised education to children across Oxfordshire with physical and mental health conditions that prevent them from attending their usual schools.


Our outreach work with Oxfordshire schools, supporting them to support their pupils who are unable to attend school due to their medical conditions, has recently been enhanced by the use of telepresence robots. This innovative use of technology has enabled pupils undergoing cancer treatment to access their home school remotely. Thought to be the first use of this type of robot in a UK school, they allow their users to see, hear, move around and interact in real time with their classmates and teachers, despite not physically being there. The child operates the robot from their home or hospital bed, and can watch and take part in lessons through a camera and speaker. Classmates and teachers can see and speak to the pupil on a live screen feed, and the pupil can move the wheel-mounted robot around the school, between lessons and to the dinner hall, for example, to spend time with their friends. 13-year-old Adam Bennett has said “Personally I think that my robot is an essential part of my education at the moment”. The project was featured on BBC Breakfast NewsBBC South TodayBBC Radio Oxford with stories in The Times and three local newspapers.


For more information about our work as a school have a look at our termly newsletter BESPOKE. James Shryane, Oxfordshire Hospital School (Nominated for the Excellent Practice in Special School or Provision award).

Do you need help to recruit specialist SEND staff?

Find SEND staff with Axcis

At Axcis, we work in partnership with SEND provisions across England and Wales. Our remit is to source the best possible teaching and support staff to meet the individual needs of the clients who work with us. We are an agency with a conscience and would love to hear from you if you need help to find suitable day-to-day, long-term or permanent SEND staff. Our team of friendly consultants have expert knowledge and would be only too happy to visit your provision and discuss your needs in greater detail, so why not get in touch with Axcis today to find out more?

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