An academy trust which runs several schools in Swindon has been shortlisted for a prestigious inclusivity award.

The Park Academies Trust runs six Swindon schools including Abbey Park School, Lydiard Park Academy, Highworth Warneford School, Red Oaks Primary School, Orchid Vale Primary School and Bridlewood Primary School, as well as the Park Academy Trust Sixth Form.

The Trust says it has worked tirelessly to improve inclusivity in its Swindon schools, and this hard work has now been formally recognised as the trust has been shortlisted for the Inclusive Award in the 2024 Multi Academy Trust Excellence Awards.

”We are so proud of the inspiring work of staff and pupils which has been instrumental in being shortlisted at this year’s Multi Academy Excellence Awards,” said James Nicholson, interim CEO of the Park Academies Trust.

“Our unique integrated therapeutic Alternative Provision allows young people to remain in mainstream lessons, in mainstream schools and that’s been key to us being recognised in this particular awards category.

“I’m so pleased that the award will raise awareness of the importance of inclusivity in schools and the work we do to help all our students feel supported and valued.” 

The Trust's School of Solutions was introduced just after schools returned from the Covid pandemic, and offers a therapeutic programme where pupils in need of extra support remain part of their mainstream schools but spend two days a week working to develop emotional skills alongside learning.

By remaining in their mainstream schools alongside receiving early intervention, pupils aren't made to feel that they're being 'kicked out' of their schools or uprooted away from their friends.

"We intend this provision to be a school secure base for pupils, where we support, facilitate and promote a capacity to tolerate frustration and uncertainty, a sense of self-worth, a capacity to relate to others with sensitivity and respect, a sense of personal agency," explained a spokesperson for the Trust.

Since the programme was introduced, the average attendance of pupils attending the School of Solutions increased in their mainstream schools by over 20 per cent.

”I’m just thrilled that the innovative work we do to make all our schools inclusive is being recognised at such a prestigious national event,” added David Williams, director of inclusion at Park Academies.

“At the Trust, we promote the idea of the ‘whole child’ to encourage our pupils to develop into productive and happy individuals.

“It’s such an important part of education and vital in supporting all the academic study and exams.”