The voice of specialist further education

Case study 2 – partnership working between a specialist college and a general FE college in Stoke on Trent

A group of students all in workshop smocks sitting round a table in a workshop listening to their tutor explain something.

Newfriars College and Newcastle and Stafford College Group (NSCG), a specialist and a general FE college, joined forces to explore how the experience of learners with SEND could be improved if the two colleges worked in partnership.

Two years on they have established a joint supported internship opportunity with Tesco, open both to NSCG and Newfriars College learners. They have strengthened transition programmes enabling some of the specialist college students to progress successfully onto performing arts and IT courses at the general FE college. In addition, NSCG learners on health and social care courses have been on work placement at Newfriars College, helping to build a future specialist FE workforce, while their hair and beauty learners have delivered beauty treatments for Newfriars learners with complex needs, raising their awareness of clients with disabilities.

The ultimate ambition of the two colleges is for joint placements, with learners benefitting from provision from both colleges on a highly individualised basis. For example, a learner might access a physio programme, educational psychologist and small group English and maths sessions at the specialist college. They could also benefit from an accredited computer design course that gives them access to the expertise and industry-standard equipment that the general FE college can offer, with the support of a member of staff from the specialist college that may reduce over time.

Current funding arrangements, including existing sub-contracting rules, would make this type of provision complex to organise.

Greater flexibility in the allocation of high needs funding by local authorities could enable more person-centred approaches like this, where the provision is built around the young person rather than the young person being placed with a best-fit provider.

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