Our Academy

Barbara Priestman Academy is a designated provision for students aged 11-19 years with Autism and/or complex learning difficulties. All students attending Barbara Priestman Academy have an Education Health and Care Plan – EHCP.

The majority of students travel to and from the Academy on transport provided by the Local Authority, however growing numbers of students are becoming independent travellers.

All students are allocated places by the Local Authority. If places are available we also offer placements to students from neighbouring authorities.

The Academy is situated across two sites, consisting of a main site for Years 7-11 and a Sixth Form site on the Thornhill premises. Main site includes 17 classrooms, 2 specialist sensory rooms, specialist teaching rooms for Science, D&T and Food Technology and a café area. Our Sixth Form provision incorporates 6 classrooms and a common room as well as an independent food preparation area to support students in developing their independence skills.

We are fortunate to have our own ‘Forest School’ on site where students from both main site and Sixth Form can learn about conservation, sustainability, animal care and horticulture. Students also have access to peripatetic music tuition through external services.


All of our students are supported by a dedicated and talented multi-disciplinary professional staff team who work closely to provide the best opportunities for all students. We employ our own full-time Speech and Language Therapist and an Occupational Therapist and Occupational therapist Assistant who work with individuals and small groups to support them with their sensory needs. We have our own Educational Psychologist who provides support for students as and when appropriate.

We are part of a multi-academy trust incorporating 4 special schools in the local area. This provides shared expertise, resources and funding across the Academies, enhancing outcomes for our learners.

Please take a look below at some of our facilities:



Our school Gym is equipped with state of the art machines, including treadmills, exercise bikes, a rowing machine, weights and weight benches.



Multi-Coordination Room


Forest School

Situated at the rear of the main school building, Forest School engages students in the outdoors developing emotional intelligence and resilience. The focus on sessions is for students to learn through play and develop skills through learner led activities. This helps promote self awareness, self regulation, communication skills and self esteem. Sessions include elements of bush craft, play, games, using tools, art work and campfire cooking. We also have an archery range in Forest School and a paddock for ponies! For more information, have a look at our curriculum page.