A Bristol school that was specifically founded for children with autism has become a 'beacon of excellence' just three years after opening. Ofsted inspectors visited Venturers' Academy in the Withywood area and rated it as 'Good, with Outstanding Features'.
The school became an academy in 2016 after it was taken over by a special trust organised and run by the Merchant Venturers, a charity established under Royal Charter in the year 1552. Appointing 'special needs super-head' Trystan Williams to run the academy was the first move, beginning the remarkable transformation that led to Ofsted's glowing report.
As Bristol's only educational establishment for children with a primary diagnosis of autism, places at Venturers' Academy are limited and in high demand. Currently, there are just 95 pupils between the ages of four and sixteen on roll, but plans are underway to create another 36 places at a second site, which will open within the grounds of Kingfisher School in the south of Bristol.
The Ofsted inspectors praised the academy's 'Curiosity Curriculum', which was said by a Venturers' Academy spokesperson to "enable pupils to explore interesting topics that encourage them to be inquisitive in their learning, alongside enriching social and cultural experiences." Initiatives such as 'The Wettest Classroom', where pupils have the chance to go onboard sailboats, have attracted positive attention from all over the UK.
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