A SCHOOL has received national recognition for being a healthy school.

In the 2018 TES awards Birtenshaw special school won the Healthy School of the Year category.

Now in its tenth year, the TES Schools Awards celebrates commitment, quality and innovation shown by teachers and support staff across the UK.

Birtenshaw School caters for pupils aged three to 19 with a focus on supporting disabled young people to live healthy lives and make healthy choices.

The school has previously been shortlisted in the Healthy School category as well as Alternative Provision and Creative School, but had never won a TES award.

Ryan Hardwidge, head of service enrichment, recreation and leisure said that the school was delighted to even be shortlisted from more than 20,000 nominations.

He said: “To be named as the winner and receive this national recognition is a testament to all the staff and young people of Birtenshaw for their hard work and determination to live healthier and enriched lives.”

Mr Hardwidge explained that getting young people to try new foods and change their diets can be very challenging.

This challenge is made harder by the fact that many pupils with special educational needs and disabilities will only eat foods they are familiar with or food of certain texture or colour. We look at different ways of engaging the pupils to familiarise themselves with healthy foods through horticultural programs, sensory play and cooking,” said Mr Hardwidge.

“The pupils have lots of fun planting and picking vegetables for many different reasons — it’s outside, you get muddy, you can watch them grow like magic and turn them into a delicious, healthy meal at the end.”

The school recently adopted a new menu to encourage pupils to enjoy a more varied diet and they also use an inclusive gym for PE lessons that is wheelchair accessible.

A spokesman for the TES Awards judges said: “Birtenshaw impressed all the judges with its whole-child approach to health, incorporating eating, exercise and mental health.

“The staff showed amazing creativity, ambition and commitment in planning and implementing healthy choices for the children in the school, and led by example with 56 members of staff completing a 10km fun run to raise awareness of health and funds for the school.

“A worthy winner in a very strong field”