Chiltern Way Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Chiltern Way Academy'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 Chiltern Way Academy 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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Ian McCaul, CEO
Chiltern Way Academy,
Wendover Campus
Chiltern Way is a newly formed multi-academy trust,
comprising Prestwood Lodge School and Wendover
House School. It serves Buckinghamshire and the
surrounding areas. CEO Ian McCaul discusses highlights of the
academy’s strategy for improvement in their essential and yet
often overlooked sector of education.
Chiltern Way Academy Trust (CWAT) is an award-winning Special Educational
Needs Academy for boys and girls aged 9-19. Our specific areas of expertise are
social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and autistic spectrum conditions
(ASC). We educate and care for the most behaviourally challenging and vulnerable
students in the education system. All of our students have an Education Health and
Care Plan (EHCP).
Our job is to re-engage these young people, motivate them, give them new hope
and give them the requisite skills to succeed in life. Our work is not easy, but – then
again – meaningful and worthwhile things rarely are. We employ a diverse group
of seemingly “ordinary” people, who do extraordinary work. My team is full of
heroes; they do things that no other professionals have previously managed to do:
successfully educate and care for these young people.
Foundation for strategy
Our multi-academy trust conversion was designed firstly to meet the needs of our
growing and diverse student population. The increasing number receiving ASC as
a primary diagnosis led to the need for discrete campuses. We have designated
»CEO: Ian McCaul
»Founded in 2016
»Based in Wendover and
Prestwood, Buckinghamshire
»Type of school: Multi-academy
trust specialising in social,
emotional and mental health
(SEMH) and autistic spectrum
conditions (ASC)
»No. of students: 150
»We are exceptionally proud of
our young people
Chiltern Way Academy
Highlighting best practice
Prestwood as our ASC Campus;
Wendover predominantly admits SEMH
students; SLCN (speech, language and
communication needs) is prevalent
across both sites. In addition to these
primary diagnoses, the majority of our
students have multiple additional needs
such as ADHD and ODD. It has become
a very complex mix.
The second reason behind conversion
was based around a need to control
our own destiny, given the changing
role of the local authority.
Finally, there was a desire, and a
need, to design and implement new
and more impactful educational
It felt like a fresh start, and with fresh
starts come new strategies and new
Improvement strategy
We are already a high-performing
school; people are amazed when they
find out what we do and how we
Our improvement strategy is designed
with our core purpose in mind: provide
all students with the resilience and
skills to enable them to have lasting
employment; a simple solution in
the most complex area of education.
However, to be successful we needed
to acknowledge and respond to the
»The evolving world of work
»Stakeholder influence
»National education policy
»An increasingly complex and diverse
student population
»Ever-changing funding models
The biggest challenges we are
currently facing and haven’t been able
to conquer as yet are:
»The lack of knowledge and/or
engagement from government over
the critical nature of this work
»The inability of organisations to truly
work together for the benefit of the
»An overarching feeling that we and
schools like us are on our own in this
very challenging world
Below are some of the highlights of
our 2017-2022 strategic plan.
Early intervention
Everybody in education recognises the
value of early intervention; prevention
is always better than cure! This is easy
to say but sometimes quite hard to
achieve. To this end, we have re-
designated the school to admit Key
Stage 2 students. We are working hard
with local schools on interventions and
transitions into Chiltern Way Academy.
We are helping the local authority with
its SEN strategy and we are developing
an integrated therapies team. If done
correctly, this work has consequences
that are difficult to exaggerate;
not doing it poses a massive lost
opportunity cost to local and national
social and economic prospects.
Actively seek opportunities to
grow the academy
The range of need is now so diverse
that we needed to differentiate the
provision and place students with
My team is full of
New and more
impactful educational
Our work is
not easy, but
– then again
– meaningful
things rarely
different needs in different locations.
As our population continues to grow
and students’ needs continue to
diverge, we will need more locations.
I am not sure whether those people
at the DfE who make “growth” and
policy decisions understand the growth
projections, for example, around ASC
numbers or the vital nature of this work
and its value to society as a whole. We
are doing all we can to ensure they do.
A relevant and purposeful
The traditional curriculum model did
not work for a large number of our
students; it did not allow us to address
their deep-rooted and complex needs.
Too many left the school with a fistful
of GCSEs but lacked many of the skills
required to succeed in the outside
world. The revised curriculum is
designed to address this shortfall. We
focus on literacy, numeracy, life skills,
adaptability, physical and emotional
wellbeing, vocational expertise and,
where appropriate, academic excellence.
We must give them the very best chance
of getting sustainableemployment.
16-25 provision
Having revised the curriculum, we
now set out to address our greatest
challenge. Many of our students are
not ready to leave at 16; indeed, many
are not ready to leave at 19. They have
not had time to develop the necessary
life skills to become successful adults
and too many become NEET (not in
education, employment or training)
shortly after leaving us. This NEET
“status” has in many cases lasted well
into adult life; it is often generational
and in other cases it has led to
undesirable criminal behaviours. It is
“Broken Britain” in action. Clearly, we
have a moral obligation to do something
about this. Our post-16 has been very
successful but it is not enough; the offer
must be extended to age 25.
What we are working on now
Right now, post-19 education, in
our area of expertise, is scant or
non-existent. Setting up appropriate
provision is an unacceptably difficult
process. We intend to change this.
This will involve influencing local and
national government, employers,
colleges, health, social care and other
interested stakeholders. We think
it is the bleeding obvious: keep our
students in education for longer and
they will be successful and contribute;
do not follow this route and we will
produce too many young people
who are at risk of being the biggest
drain on the public purse as they
leave school and become jobless and
dependent, and in many cases turn to
drugs, violence and crime.
Other policymakers agree and yet
still no action from the relevant
government departments; evidently
we either have yet to meet the “right”
people or we have to get better at
presenting our case.
We firmly believe that with this
strategy and our committed staff team
we will be able to turn around more
lives than ever before, and perhaps
affect to some degree the social
landscape of this country.
Our students
are at risk of
being the
biggest drain
on the public
Strong, healthy
We live by our mission:
good physical health
and strong educational

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from the prime minister.

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

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

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