SEND Local Offer 


Churchward School, William Morris Way, Tadpole Garden Village, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN25 2PP

Tel No

01793 209198

Key contact

Dave Dearsley – Head teacher


Opening hours

9.10am – 3.10pm

DfE designation

Special School and a DfE Free School for students with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and/or Social Communication and Interaction Difficulties (SCID)

Age Range

11-19 boys and girls 

No. of places funded by LA

Phased Opening (from 20 places from September 2018, increasing incrementally to the maximum of 75 places by September 2022)

Most recent Ofsted Inspection


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Churchward School Admissions

 Churchward School has a robust admissions process whereby we work closely with families and the local authority in assessing the suitability of placement and place planning. 

The following criteria will be used to determine if a student is to be referred to this special school and the students must meet all these criteria.  Each student must:

  • have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP);
  • have Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and/or Social Communication and Interaction Difficulties (SCID) as their primary need;
  • be aged from 11-19 years old;
  • have needs that cannot be met by a full-time placement in a mainstream school;
  • be placed after full consultation with parents.

Should your child meet all of the above criteria and you are interested in applying for a place, we recommend that you contact the school to arrange a visit.  Detailed information about the school can be found on the school website: 

The Local Authority will consider the request through the annual review process and you will be asked to confirm your preference for this provision. The Local Authority will consider your preference for Churchward School and may discuss it with you before allocating a place. The allocation will also be dependent on whether we can meet your child’s special educational needs. You will be formally notified of your child’s place at Churchward School by the Local Authority. Students entering the school will have come through the SENRAP admission pathway, directly from SENAT or through direct referral from the Complex Needs Resource Panel.


Churchward School’s designation

Churchward School is for students aged 11 – 19 with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and/or Social Communication and Interaction Difficulties (SCID) as their primary need. Most students will have a range of complex needs and additional challenges with some also have a learning difficulty.  Such students are likely to experience significant, complex, persistent and enduring difficulties.  Their range of needs may also be multi-layered and interconnected, combining mental health, anxiety, attachment, relationships, behavioural, physical, medical, sensory, and communication features.  Our tailored learning programmes support students working towards effectively accessing and engaging with learning; ultimately achieving relevant and meaningful accreditation and skills and achieving their potential.  Our curriculum also has a strong emphasis on skills for life – supporting our students to develop independence and feel valued and supported by their local community, as well as to have the ability to contribute economically and socially to their locality. 

Churchward School’s vision

Recognising strengths, gaining skills, achieving success

Recognising strengths…

We will work with students, and all who support them to identify and build on current strengths.

Gaining skills…

Our students will gain the skills they need to shape their future.

Achieving Success…

We will ensure our students achieve meaningful success enabling them to feel valued by, and contribute to, their community.

The aims of our Learning Vision are:

  • To establish a community that will explicitly develop communication skills, social interaction, self-regulation and flexibility of thought.
  • To enable students to make exceptional progress through ensuring high quality, specialist and consistent teaching and learning and appropriate accreditation pathways.
  • To provide specialised, low arousal learning environments that respond to individual needs and accommodate the sensory needs of our learners
  • To promote the core life values of independence and interdependence


The learning environment

  • Churchward School benefits from a purpose-built school featuring specialist facilities such as a sensory room, a science laboratory, enrichment rooms including art, drama and cooking and indoor and outdoor physical education facilities.
  • Given the range of ASC need, areas for group work and individual study will also be provided. To reduce anxiety the learning environment will have visually recognisable pathways and clearly designated spaces, this will enable the young person to successfully transition to activities throughout the day. Appropriate break-out spaces will be provided linking directly from the learning spaces to allow opportunities for successful de-escalation.
  • Integral to our curriculum will be the use of both Uplands Educational Trust’s (UET) and local community resources in Swindon; e.g. farm facilities, libraries and sports facilities.


In Key Stage 3, students access English, maths, science, PSHCE, creative arts, food technology, music and humanities (history, geography and Religious Education).  Dedicated time to support students’ primary need of social communication and interaction is facilitated through community outings, enrichment afternoons and reward time as a core part of tutor groups’ timetables.  This broad curriculum offer aims to create opportunities which engage and encourage students to try different activities, learn new skills, challenge themselves and above all, develop a love of learning.  This then provides them with a strong foundation from which our young people can progress onto Key Stage 4 and make informed choices to engage in different vocational pathways and qualifications.

At Key Stage 4, students are taught in tutor groups for English, maths, science, PSHCE and Thrive which all students access, and in options groups for PE, creative arts, food technology, sociology and creative iMedia.  In Key Stages 4 and 5, students progress onto a more targeted curriculum linked to their specific interests, aspirations and needs mapped out in their Preparation for Adulthood Personalised Progression Pathway, with progression on to work related learning opportunities.

The vast majority of students will continue working under a Key Stage 4 model of qualification options, until they have achieved a portfolio of basic qualifications, to give them a solid grounding to progress on to specialise in their specific interests – for some students this may be beyond Year 11.  Once they have achieved this, the Key Stage 5 curriculum is further aimed to prepare students for life after school and adulthood.  Students have the opportunity to focus on specific areas of interest whilst maintaining access to the core areas of learning of English, maths and PSHCE at an appropriate level, either 1:1 or in a Churchward School or external provision whole class setting.  Off-site learning through supported work placements and college links is a key feature of our offer at Key Stage 5 to support our young people specialise in their preferred areas and develop confidence and independence away from the safe and familiar setting of school.

A core part of the specialist curriculum at  Churchward School is our interventions programme which we aim to run as a seamless part of our curriculum offer to target students at their point of learning need and support them making maximum progress, by providing them with specialist support with their social, emotional and academic needs.  Student target setting and progress reviews inform these interventions to ensure maximum progress for every student. 

At Churchward School our interventions operate at 3 different levels: whole school, targeted and specific.  Each level becomes more focused than the last one.  Our interventions are always led by trained staff and are either integrated within our English, maths and Thrive sessions or run as discrete sessions for those learners who need it.

Assessing students’ progress towards outcomes in collaboration with parents/carers

Assessment appropriate to each student’s age, stage and needs is in place, in line with the school’s assessment policy which is reviewed annually.  Progress is reported on qualitatively by each student’s class teacher three times a year through the school’s formal reporting cycle, at parents’ evenings, as well as in collaboration with parents and other agencies working with each student through the annual review process of their Education and Health Care Plan.  This is a very special, student centred event where we collaboratively celebrate their progress, review their EHCP, their needs and their plan for their future, with the student, their family and relevant professionals. The students are supported to make a presentation for their review and express their views in a way that suits them and parents/carers are invited to share their views through a form prior to the meeting in addition to their contributions within the meeting.  As part of the EHCP process, attainment including their current assessment levels, accreditation updates and progress towards their EHCP outcomes; including personal English and Maths targets, will be reported on. 

The team

The school prides itself on enabling all staff to access quality and effective CPD – both our internal programme of training within the school and Multi-Academy Trust as well as external training courses.  This links with priorities in staff performance management and our School Improvement Plan. 

Partnership working supports all aspects of our learning offer and strong relationships are an integral feature of the Churchward School community. The school works closely with external professionals to ensure that the needs of students are met and this collaborative working informs planning and delivery of curriculum content and wider educational experiences of each student.

The Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) will indicate the required therapies necessary for each student’s needs.  We will follow the guidance identified in the EHCP reviews in working with our students. We will liaise with other identified professionals in order to provide the services required. We currently work with other services; for example, CAMHS, Social Care – Disabled Children’s Team/ Adult Social Care, Speech and Language and Occupational Therapy.



Transitions are about moving on to the next stage of life and gaining confidence. It is about being able to settle well into new routines, new environments and getting to know new people. At Churchward School we place a high value on transitions and commit to visiting new students in their current schools and arranging orientation visits to the Free School to enable them to become familiar with the staff, routines and what their education package will look like during this time.   The staff will support students to move smoothly into the school community and continue to provide support and guidance during their time at Churchward School.  From Year 11 onwards each student is allocated a transition worker from the local authority, who will support them in their transition to adulthood at 18. When students are preparing to move on from Churchward School, staff will help them and their families investigate different options such as a return to a mainstream provider or a different school, college, work, living in the community and/or leisure and social opportunities.


Equality and diversity

At Churchward School we are committed to ensuring equality of education and opportunity for all members of the school community – students, staff, governors, parents and community members. We aim to develop a culture of inclusion and diversity where everyone, irrespective of their race, ethnic or national origin or their citizenship, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious belief or disability feels welcome, valued and able to participate fully in school life.

Monitoring of the effectiveness of the provision

There are robust systems in place for the CEO, Director of Education, senior leadership and governors to monitor the effectiveness of the school provision. The senior leadership team also monitors the delivery of teaching and progress made.  Moderation takes place with other schools within the MAT and with equivalent local providers.   Ofsted visit the school every 3 – 5 years to monitor and make their judgement.