Briarwood School

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About Briarwood School

Name Briarwood School
Ofsted Inspections
Headteacher Mrs Nicolle Deighton
Address Briar Way, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 4EA
Phone Number 01173532651
Phase Special
Type Community special school
Age Range 3-19
Religious Character Does not apply
Gender Mixed
Number of Pupils 164
Local Authority Bristol, City of
Highlights from Latest Inspection


Briarwood School continues to be a good school. There is enough evidence of improved performance to suggest that the school could be judged outstanding if we were to carry out a graded (section 5) inspection now.

The school's next inspection will be a graded inspection.

What is it like to attend this school?

Briarwood is a very special school. Each pupil has their own learning journey to help them make the best possible progress in the curriculum and their education, health and care plan objectives.

Leaders are determined to give every pupil the skills and knowledge to prepare them well for adulthood. The curriculum has been redesigned to achieve this. Teachers have high e...xpectations.

They expect pupils to develop good communication skills, including learning to read. Teachers make learning relate to pupils' real-life experiences. Pupils find this an interesting way to learn.

Pupils enjoy coming to school. They behave exceptionally well. There is very little bullying.

Teachers help pupils understand better ways to relate to others when bullying does occur. Staff and governors help pupils feel safe. Pupils concentrate closely on their work, using practical resources and a wide range of communication aids.

Pupils work well with their classmates. Pupils have strong relationships with teaching staff. Teaching assistants only give help when it is needed.

Pupils learn to do more for themselves when they are ready for this.

The three school sites cater for different age groups. Each has its own distinct character, matched to the different needs of pupils as they grow older.

What does the school do well and what does it need to do better?

The executive headteacher and her leadership team provide very strong leadership. They have significantly improved the quality of education since the previous inspection. Learning is planned in three pathways.

These are Acorn, Woodland and Forest. Each pathway has been designed for the particular learning needs of the different groups of pupils.

In each pathway, the curriculum includes a broad range of academic and life skill subjects.

The content of each subject has been carefully selected to ensure that it is meaningful and relevant to pupils. Teachers use the detailed subject handbooks leaders have created to ensure that teaching covers the exact subject content pupils need in the right order. All pupils have a personalised learning programme.

Staff assess astutely what pupils know and can do and the progress they make over time. Staff are skilful in assessing the amount of support pupils require to complete their learning. They encourage pupils to become more independent.

There is a consistent approach to teaching across the school. Pupils have lots of opportunities to practise new learning. Teachers model what they want pupils to learn.

Teachers find fun and engaging ways to keep pupils interested. Pupils learn new sounds, and how different sounds blend together in phonics. They look at these sounds in words and in stories.

They also learn to write these words. Pupils learn specific body movements and gestures to accompany this learning. They also sing songs to practise what they have learned.

Pupils enjoy reading books that are well matched to the new sounds they have learned. Pupils make exceptionally good progress in their reading.

Post-16 students practise using money in mathematics.

They use their number skills to work out what different coins add up to. This work is linked to their Duke of Edinburgh awards. Evidence is also gathered for a portfolio that will lead to a qualification.

Students can explain what they are learning. Their work records demonstrate they are progressing well through the mathematics curriculum. Students have lots of opportunities to experience the world of work.

Work placements are organised in school and with local employers.

The early years foundation stage leader uses her knowledge of the mainstream curriculum alongside the school's expertise in special educational needs and/or disabilities to create a highly effective curriculum for the youngest pupils. Pupils develop their communication skills well.

They enjoy learning through sensory experiences.

The personal development curriculum is included within all subjects. Pupils learn about life in modern Britain and citizenship.

They take part in a variety of activities to develop their spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding. The school hosts an annual music festival. Every pupil is encouraged to take part.

Pupils are filmed and photographed taking part in the curriculum. Parents can see these via the internet. This helps parents know what their child has been learning.

Staff are extremely well trained and skilled at meeting the special needs of pupils. Pupils at the Nexus provision have all found it hard to learn in their previous schools due to their very challenging behaviour. Leaders ensure that staff have the expertise to keep these pupils safe and engaged in a curriculum that meets their specific needs.

Leaders provide a high level of support to this team. Staff report how well leaders care for their well-being. Leaders ensure that staff have enough time to complete their work.

Parents who spoke to an inspector were extremely positively about the school. They all said how much their child enjoyed school, and how well they have progressed in their communication skills. One typical comment from a parent was that school staff felt like family members because they were so supportive.


The arrangements for safeguarding are effective.

Recruitment processes are very well organised and managed. Leaders and governors regularly check that these meet government requirements.

New staff and governors take part in a thorough induction training when they start at the school. Staff training is comprehensive. Leaders provided frequent updates to keep staff aware of local or national issues and check staff understanding overtly.

Staff know what to do if they have any concerns. Leaders are meticulous in their approach to reviewing safeguarding records. They quickly identify any trends or patterns.

This information is used to inform staff training. Teachers may introduce new learning for pupils as a result.


When we have judged a school to be good, we will then normally go into the school about once every four years to confirm that the school remains good.

This is called an ungraded inspection, and it is carried out under section 8 of the Education Act 2005. We do not give graded judgements on an ungraded inspection. However, if we find evidence that a school would now receive a higher or lower grade, then the next inspection will be a graded inspection, which is carried out under section 5 of the Act.

Usually this is within one to two years of the date of the ungraded inspection. If we have serious concerns about safeguarding, behaviour or the quality of education, we will deem the ungraded inspection a graded inspection immediately.

This is the first ungraded inspection since we judged the school to be good in June 2017.

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