West Kirby School wins Innovation AwardThe NASS Innovation Award recognises the use of new, adapted, or innovative practice within an establishment or organisation to further improve the lives of children, young people and/or their families, or the organisation as a whole

2023 Shortlisted nominees:

  • Treloar School – Developing an innovative English curriculum
  • Aurora White House School – Bullying awareness programme

2023 Winner: West Kirby School – Creating a school bakery


Summary of the shortlisted and winning projects

Treloar School – Developing an innovative English curriculum

Based in Hampshire, Treloar School is a non-maintained special school for 2 to 16 year old students with physical disabilities. However, some students with particular learning/emotional difficulties may stay with them until the age of 18. It has room for over 70 weekly and termly residential and up to 40 day places.

Treloar School has developed an innovative English curriculum model that prioritises the needs of physically disabled students. The curriculum maps key strands of literacy (branches from its literacy tree) against six writing themes, recognising that students will need to rely on the physical support of others for the rest of their lives.

The curriculum overview is comprehensive, covering each stage of learning from students working within the engagement model up to those working within Year 6 primary curriculum. It promotes continuity and progression, prioritising skill development and achievement rather than age-related expectations.

Each year, students are presented with captivating subjects that allow them to apply knowledge and cultivate new skills. Topics are carefully selected for each year group, ensuring a progression of learning, sustaining interest, and providing challenges along the way. Whole school events are organised against this termly map.

The curriculum has been developed in collaboration with teachers, Speech and Language Therapists, and a Reader in Primary Education at the University of Sussex. It is continually reviewed to ensure it meets student and staff needs. It provides a clear path for personalised learning for each student.

Treloar says that students are exhibiting increased levels of enthusiasm and enjoyment in regards to literacy. Some are even taking responsibility for promoting literacy within the school. The framework is also being explored by two special schools and one primary school for use in their own settings. The framework will be presented at the UKLA conference and an article about it will be published in a national magazine.

Aurora White House School – Bullying awareness programme

Aurora White House is an independent special school located in Norwich, Norfolk. It supports children aged 6-11 years who have experienced difficulties in mainstream settings, either as a result of specific learning difficulties or more complex communication and interaction difficulties.

Aurora White House School has been working towards achieving the Anti-Bullying Quality Mark-UK. They recognised that their students, due to different learning styles and difficulties in generalising knowledge, were struggling to apply what they had learned about bullying. The school shifted its focus to bullying awareness rather than anti-bullying.

The bullying awareness programme was led by their Therapeutic Drama Practitioner and involved several teams from the school. The programme was a rolling six week course that ran over the course of a half term, using role play as the primary method of instruction.

The programme was monitored and adjusted based on feedback from staff and students. The first half of term was used to plan and understand the needs of the students better. Feedback from teaching staff resulted in adjusting some of the activities and the running order of activities.

Aurora White House reports that the impact of the programme has been significant. It says it has enabled a shared language which is very helpful when debriefing conflict between students. The school has seen a reduction in other behaviour being labelled ‘bullying’ by students and many of its students have expressed interest in becoming anti-bullying ambassadors. It says the programme has also resulted in positive group learning with students supporting each other.

West Kirby School – Creating a school bakery

Based in the Wirral, West Kirby is a non-maintained special school. The school and its college caters for children and young people, aged 5-19 years, with complex special educational needs and disabilities. It supports pupils with social and communication difficulties, including Autistic Spectrum Condition, sensory and emotional needs, across a range of cognitive abilities.

West Kirby School launched a school bakery project to provide work experience opportunities for its students. The project aimed to develop customer service skills, life-long skills, and preparation for the world of work.

The Bakery was built within the existing Food Technology space, with planning permission and financial planning. The Bakery Team developed high-quality products and practiced customer service skills before a ‘soft’ opening. The Bakery officially opened to the public in April 2023, offering home-baked products and items created as part of the enterprise.

The project involved local businesses, a qualified barista, and a Food Technology teacher. Students learned to make different types of coffee and care for a sourdough starter. They also gained experience in communicating with the public, teamwork, mathematical thinking, creativity, concentration, and flexibility.

The Bakery now opens two mornings a week and has met its proposed aims of enabling young people through a ‘real life,’ contextual learning environment. The impact of the project has been significant, with students reporting increased confidence, new skills, and enjoyment from their participation.

West Kirby says that it has also yielded three unexpected benefits:

  • It has served as a safe haven for former students, allowing them to maintain contact with the school in an informal setting.
  • It has strengthened community ties, with local church members and friends of the charity that runs the school visiting regularly.
  • It has become a community hub, with a retired Market Research Officer volunteering at the school, teaching pupils social skills and helping to expand the bakery’s offerings.

The school plans to monitor the Bakery’s efficacy by incorporating its effects into their NEET data and assessing how many pupils are achieving work-based accreditations. The Bakery is seen as a springboard for pupils who may not be able to access a full GCSE academic programme, guiding them towards lifelong independence and a career.