The voice of specialist further education

Who we are

Natspec is the membership association for organisations that offer specialist further education and training for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities aged 16 to 25.

Our vision

Our vision is that

all young people with learning difficulties or disabilities can access high quality education and training, which meets their individual needs and supports their aspirations for skills, work and life.

Our mission and values

Natspec exists to improve Further Education (FE) for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

We value specialism and personalisation within a diverse range of FE and training provision – an inclusive FE system. This education should broaden choice for young people, support their aspirations, represent their best interests and provide a social return on investment. An inclusive FE system is underpinned by three key principles:

  • Equality of opportunity and access
  • Learners’ views shaping the system
  • FE preparing young people to be included in wider society

Our policy priorities and recommendations to government aim to address many of the barriers that currently exist for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

What we do

Our core activities are to:

  1. Support and inform our members to help them raise the quality of provision for learners. To help improve quality, we provide guidance and briefings, offer quality health checks, and deliver events, networks and conferences to our members. We also help our members provide advice and guidance to young people, their families and supporters.
  2. Influence policy and act as an advocate for specialism in FE to create a system that works for learners. We represent members to government, funding agencies and other stakeholders, including through the use of student voice and by publishing papers and reports. We highlight the positive difference members can make to the lives of young people with SEND/ALN through our student stories, directory, website, Natspec Highlights, social media and articles.
  3. Support the wider FE sector to improve quality of provision for all young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. We provide training and development through the Natspec Transform and TechAbility services. Our projects and partnerships support professionals throughout the sector. We provide opportunities for students to engage in inter-college activities such as the Natspec Games and Student Parliament. We also contribute to the work of other organisations who seek to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

What our members provide

Member colleges provide:

  • Challenging but safe adult environments which encourage students to develop personally and socially
  • Specialist multi-disciplinary teams with expertise in teaching, learning support, therapies and assistive technologies which enable students to learn effectively
  • High quality, personalised Study Programmes linked to Education, Health and Care plans, which support students to achieve their aspirations for work or higher education; living more independently with greater choice and control; having friendships, supportive relationships and being involved in the community, and leading a healthy lifestyle
  • Opportunities for students to develop their communication skills, express their views, and make choices and decisions.

To promote continuing improvement and innovation, member colleges:

  • Work in partnership with students and their families, with other members, with other education and training providers, and with local and national agencies
  • Ensure that staff are suitably experienced and qualified and have regular opportunities to update their professional practice.

Disability Confident

As part of its on-going determination to increase opportunities for disabled people to find and retain jobs, Natspec has signed up to the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We are committed to offering work experience and work shadowing opportunities for college students.



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