Bridge Training & Development

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bridge Training & Development's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Bridge Training & Development is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
A manufacturing project
enabling cross-curricular learning
Headteacher Sue Hornby and
Managing Director Neil Hornby
Bridge Training and Development is an independent special
secondary school established in 2007. Starting with two
staff and five post-16 trainees on an allotment, the school
now has 29 staff on two sites, and in June 2017 was graded
“outstanding” in all areas by Ofsted. The majority of its intake
have challenging learning needs, many from the care system
and some with ASD. As less than half of the staff team come
from a teaching background, they naturally think out of the
box and have learnt to be unafraid of following our instincts.
Managing Director Neil Hornby and Headteacher Sue Hornby
say the journey from a small charity to independent school has
been challenging, but that evolving in this way has allowed time
to establish a school that doesn’t look or feel likeany other.
Emotional wellbeing before education
Our way of working has always been rather back to front. Educational attainment
is always secondary to emotional wellbeing and development.
Our primary aim is for our young people to develop faith in themselves, hope
for a more positive future and, most of all, to learn to love themselves and those
around them.Any educational qualifications they achieve are always secondary to
»Headteacher: Sue Hornby
»Managing Director: NeilHornby
»Established in 2007, attained
independent school status in
»Located in Hanley Swan,
Worcestershire and Malvern,
»Services: Independent special
school for students aged 11
to 19
»No. of students: 40, 10 part-
»No. of staff: 29
»Pupils with EHCPs: 100 per
»Ofsted: “Outstanding” in all
areas, June 2017
Bridge Training &
Highlighting best practice
A practical curriculum
Having started as a provider of City
& Guilds land-based qualifications,
the Bridge has remained rooted in
a practical curriculum.Pupils are
more engaged when they can see
the practical outworking of their
learning.They also thrive on being
given responsibility such as caring for
animals or driving thetractor.
The curriculum also includes social
learning and personal development.
Students are individually mentored
and can opt in to CBT sessions, anger
management or communication
skills. A range of art, craft and music
activities are used to develop emotional
literacy and safe expression.
Ofsted remarked that “without
exception, the inspector saw
outstanding teaching, learning
and assessment throughout
the inspection which reflect the
quality of teaching and learning
over time. As a result, pupils
make outstanding progress,
academically and socially, from
their starting points.”
The most significant learning
takes place outside of the
Most children at the Bridge experience
extremely high levels of anxiety.
Anxiety, and the sense of not coping
or of not being “good enough”, can
cause a great deal of suffering and
shame. In an attempt to minimise
this, the school day is as predictable
as possible; unstructured times are
kept short and are heavily supervised;
and it is made acceptable for a child
to leave their lesson if they need to.
Indeed, it is outside of the classroom
that the really important learning takes
place. Support staff will attune to a
child’s emotional state, validate their
feelings and together find a way to
reflect on the problem and learn from
it. Children are supported to develop
coping strategies that reduce their
anxiety and help them to regulate their
emotional state. We believe giving
young people the emotional language
to understand and communicate their
struggles is foundational to success,
not just at school but in the workplace
and in wider relationships.
Giving students
responsibility grows self-
Our primary
aim is for our
young people
to develop
faith in
hope for a
more positive
future and
most of all to
learn to love
and those
around them
Workplace-based sixth form
We have transferred our 16-19
provision to a workplace-based model.
Our purpose-developed business centre
is staffed by successful business people
who have brought their businesses
under our roof, supported by a team
of careers tutors.
In year 12, the students work in their
chosen business area, be it catering,
manufacturing or retail. This offers an
excellent opportunity to acquire work-
relevant skills. The careers tutorswork
alongside the students, giving them
the opportunity to reflect on their
practice and supporting them with the
softer skills such as communication and
travel training. In year 13, the trainees
will be on work-based experience
in the local community, supported
Changing the working culture
We aim to be a vehicle for changing
the working culture locally. The
National Autistic Society records that
just 16 per cent of adults with autism
are in full-time work. We recognise
the skills and attributes our young
people have to offer in the workplace;
however, the biggest barrier to
employment is understanding and
acceptance. Our two-year programme
aims to give the young people the
opportunity to learn to cope in these
situations as well as offering training
and support for employers who take
them on for work experience or
In our early days as a charity, we were
grateful for the generous support of
volunteers. Twelve years later we still
value the contributions our volunteers
make. The wider community wants
to be a part of something that is
changing their town for the better.
Several local churches in particular
have offered generous financial
support for projects we deliver.
Future plans
Ofsted said: “Leaders believe
their mission to be ‘changing
people’s lives’. This is exactly
what happens at the school.”
We are keen to change lives and
attitudes, not just at the school but at
home, in our local communities and
workplaces. Supporting the young
people after they leave is important to
us, and many drop in to see us several
years after leaving to share their
successes in life or ask for support.
We would like to see a youth café
in our local town, partnering with
the community: a place at which
young people can safely meet, receive
support and guidance and gain work
experience. Through the café a youth
counsellor could offer help to the
wider youth of the town as well as
our school. If we believe learning is
lifelong, shouldn’t support go beyond
school too?
The wider
want to be part
of something
that is changing
their town for
the better
Catering for the local
community develops
work-relevant skills

This article was sponsored by Bridge Training & Development. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister