Notton House Academy, based in Wiltshire to care and educate boys predominantly from Bristol, has been shortlisted for the Times Education Supplement School Awards 2020.

The school was shortlisted for the prestigious alternative provision award for turning around its standards and reputation during the 2018/19 academic year and providing a secure future for itself. The school is part of the Learn@ Multi-Academy Trust.

Notton House Academy educates and cares for 50 boys aged 8 to 19 and has 40 places for students to stay during weekdays in the term-time. The school is in a rural location to serve Bristol and seven other local authorities. Students have either social, emotional and mental health needs, or communication difficulties, whilst others are on the autistic spectrum.

Two years ago, the school was undersubscribed. Now demand exceeds places available and improvements have been secured in attendance, pupil progress, staff retention and family relations.  

Issues such as exclusions, physical interventions, students leaving without a destination and a deficit budget have reduced at the same time.  Residential care and safeguarding at the school was rated as good by Ofsted in that year.

Headteacher, Michelle Reysenn, commented, “We have adopted a trauma informed approach based around the new core values of safety, kindness and respect, to enable the young people, their families and our staff, to feel safe, valued and supported. Restorative and reflective practices have replaced a previously punitive system. Alongside staff development, staff and student voice has informed both curriculum changes, as well as activities on offer. In addition, the physical changes to the site have enabled our young people to access a range of options when they need time out during the day and evening. 

“Investment in quiet areas such as the sensory garden and three sensory rooms, as well as more active and physical spaces such as the gardening area, a forest school field, indoor and outdoor gym, and a climbing wall, have further developed all areas of the academy. The care areas feel like home to the young people and they choose all of their soft furnishings. All stakeholders have contributed to the changes and have made Notton a wonderful place to work, live and be educated.”