A special educational needs (SEN) school in Chester has today been awarded the prestigious Wellbeing Award for Schools (WAS) from the National Children's Bureau.

Maple Grove School was presented with the award for its outstanding work promoting mental health and wellbeing within its school community.

An independent school for children with autism (ASC) and a range of additional needs, the school is also a part of Options Autism, an award-winning organisation that operates a nationwide network of schools for young people with ASC, associated complex needs and behaviours that challenge.

Dr Helen Mills, WAS award assessor, said: "What Maple Grove School has achieved since opening 18 months ago is remarkable; I cannot emphasise enough that this is a ‘happy and safe school where everyone is nurtured, valued and listened to.

"Outstanding leadership is a key factor in understanding the success of the school in promoting emotional wellbeing, mental health and resilience.

"The financial investment, skills, commitment, and approach of the senior leadership team, change team, staff and the whole school community has created innovative ways of working.

"It has fostered a seamless and consistent welcoming, non-judgemental, therapeutic, caring, kind, supportive, trusting, empathetic, safe, happy, fun, positive, creative, nurturing and resilient culture."

A report on Maple Grove stated that "a real sense of belonging and a strong team approach was evident" as well as the pride and openness of its staff. Parents described Maple Grove as "an amazing school, it’s like a big family."

The school is also said to have a creative and personalised curriculum written by staff and an outstanding range of one to one and group targeted interventions that help to meet the needs of each pupil.

Alongside the outstanding job done for its pupils, the school was commended for its approach to staff wellbeing with the report commenting "The Headteacher has committed to improving staff wellbeing and reducing stress through innovative ways and this should be highlighted as best practice to give other schools the confidence to follow."

Chester and District Standard: Headteacher Ben Reading says that the culture at the school was 'top priority'.Headteacher Ben Reading says that the culture at the school was 'top priority'.

Ben Reading, Headteacher at Maple Grove said: "We are delighted to receive the Wellbeing Award for Schools. When Maple Grove opened in 2020, we wanted a culture of wellbeing to be our top priority.

"If pupils do not feel safe, nurtured and listened to, then they cannot learn and thrive. Achieving this award is testament to the hard work of our Pastoral Lead and the whole staff team in ensuring wellbeing is central to everything we do at Maple Grove."

Dr Mills' closing remarks described Maple Grove as: "An embedded happy, kind, trusting, positive, nurturing school with a culture and ethos that values everyone’s voice. It has invested in highly trained, passionate staff.

"The whole school team at Maple Grove School works passionately to make a positive difference to the lives of all the pupils, parents and staff."