A SWINDON school shared its delight after scooping the top honour at the Oscars of the education world last week.
At the awards ceremony held at London’s Grosvenor House hotel on Friday, Uplands School in Tadpole Lane was named best overall school at the national Times Education Supplement education awards 2015.
The awards recognise outstanding contributions made by education teams and individuals to help students to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom.
Uplands, which works with students with severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties, enjoyed a double night of success when ithey received the prestigious accolade together with the alternative provision school of the year award.
Executive head teacher Jackie Smith said: “It was pretty amazing – we weren’t expecting that. We hoped that we might win the alternative provision award but when they announced we had won the overall school of the year, I was shocked.”
“It was like winning the Oscars.
“I took everyone up there with me. We were so happy and emotional. It was absolutely fabulous.”
Uplands School provides education for children with special needs aged between 11 and 19.
All 128 pupils at the school suffer from severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties, as well as additional needs including autism, visual or hearing impairments.
The school also houses a learning centre for 19 to 25-year- olds which readies young people for the workplace.
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, who officially opened the learning centre at Uplands last year, said: “I’m delighted with the work the school has done together with the Uplands Educational Trust.
"People with learning difficulties deserve to have the same opportunities as everyone else and this school is helping them achieve their goals. ”
Uplands was singled out for success due to its impressive academic achievements, learning centre and its pupil-run shop, which gives students valuable work experience.
Royal Wootton Bassett Academy also received a nod in the secondary school category but was beaten to the top prize.
More than 1,200 education professionals attended the black-tie event which was hosted by BAFTA-nominated writer and comedian, Greg Davies.
Winners were selected by an esteemed panel of judges including writer Anthony Horowitz, Dr Lee Elliot Major, chief executive of the Sutton Trust, and Colin Bell, chief executive of the Council of British International Schools.
Judges said of Uplands: “It’s just a delight to come across such a fantastic school.”
Jackie paid tribute to her teaching team and the ‘unsung heroes’, the parents, for aiding the students in finding work opportunities.
“I think it’s about the fact that the work we do is exceptional and it is really difficult , we work with some of the most challenging young people in Swindon but they are also the most wonderful,” she said.
“The vision is to help them help themselves, we assist them getting into work, there’s no greater feeling then helping them achieve their goals at the end of it.
“Thanks to the parents, staff, the wonderful children that we teach, the governors and the trust for all their help and support.
“The parents are the unsung heroes, they are the ones that look after and provide that help and support to our children on a daily basis, we just assist where we can.”