Head of Therapy and Clinical Services – Wargrave House, Warrington

Salary: £45,591 – £51,630 per annum.

Hours: Full Time

Location: Wargrave House School and College

Closing date: Tuesday, 28th July 2020

Where do applicants need to apply:  Please visit our website at www.wargravehouse.com for more details and an application pack. Please note applications will only be accepted on the official application form and can emailed to recruitment@wargravehouse.com

Job Description

Head of Therapy and Clinical Services

Permanent, Full-Time, 37.5 hours per week

Monday – Friday

Salary: £45,591 – £51,630 per annum.

Start date as soon as possible, subject to satisfactory recruitment checks being completed

Wargrave House is Charity that is going places, having been focused on its school and college throughout its 50 year history the organisation is now in a position to develop new services in the communities that it serves.

Wargrave House Limited operates as a residential special school and independent specialist college in Merseyside, and has an excellent reputation.  We deliver outstanding education and care services to children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and associated developmental and sensory processing disorders.

Due to the retirement of our existing Head of Therapy an opportunity has arisen to join our Senior Leadership Team in this valuable role. As Head of Therapy and Clinical Services you will provide leadership, management and operational support to our team of Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Rebound Therapist, Music Therapist and School Nurse. You will lead on the development and implementation of a strategic plan for this area of the organisation to ensure that we make the most of our therapy and clinical expertise and resources.

You will be accountable to the Chief Executive Officer and will have contact with managers and staff internally along with external organisations, stakeholders, legislative bodies and others.

We are looking to appoint an exceptional candidate to provide high-quality Head of Therapy and Clinical Services as the Organisations leading support staff professional to work as part of the Senior Leadership Team to ensure that the organisation meets its aims and objectives in order to achieve improved standards across Organisation.

If you are committed to providing the very best to support positive outcomes for our Organisation, we would welcome an application from you. In return, we offer a Group Personal Pension and non-contributory occupational health scheme.

A full job description and personal specification can be found on our website. Please note applications will only be accepted on the official application form and can emailed to recruitment@wargravehouse.com

Closing date: Tuesday, 28th July 2020

Wargrave House Limited operates a safe recruitment process.  Appointment to the post will be subject to suitable references and an enhanced Disclosure Barring Service check.  Wargrave House Limited is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.

Specialist Tutor (Maths & English) – Portland College, Mansfield

Full time 37.5 hrs. per week, 52 weeks

Salary: £23,819 to £33,822 (depending on experience and qualifications)

Portland College are currently looking for a specialist tutor for the delivery of English and Maths, GCSE and Functional Skills from pre-entry to Level 2 within the college.

You will be working with a range of learners, identifying barriers to learning and planning effective learning strategies based on individual needs. The role includes providing progress feedback to learners and evaluating support needs to ensure they meet their set goals and targets.

As part of this role you will be working closely with the functional skills team to ensure a high quality of teaching and learning. You will engage and motivate the learners to achieve their full potential, this includes developing schemes of work and session plans, as well as preparing learners for their assessments and examinations.

We work on a stunning 32 acre woodland campus in Sherwood Forest and the first thing visitors notice is the wonderful positive, happy atmosphere.

Application packs are available to download from our website; where you will find further details about the College. CV’s submitted without the application form will not be accepted.

Closing date: 16 August 2020

Assistant Head Teacher – Wargrave House, Warrington

Salary: L6 – L9

Hours: Full Time

Location: Wargrave House School and College, Newton-le-Willows, Warrington

Closing date: Monday 27th July 2020 (by 12:00 noon)

Where do applicants need to apply: Please visit our website at www.wargravehouse.com for more details and an application pack. Please note applications will only be accepted on the official application form and can emailed to recruitment@wargravehouse.com

Job Description

Assistant Head Teacher

Permanent, Full Time

Start date:  As soon as possible and no later than January 2021

Salary: L6 – L9

Following the retirement of the current Assistant Head, we are looking to appoint an outstanding candidate to the position of Assistant Head across the Wargrave House charity.  This exceptional colleague will be an individual with a high level of self-motivation who places young people at the core of their values and purpose.

Additionally the post holder will be able to demonstrate their ability to implement strategic systems aligned to intended student outcomes whilst also recognising the importance of operational day-to-day processes.

A fundamental understanding of the importance of leadership across teams and systems is vital to securing this key role.

Applications are invited from an enthusiastic, highly skilled professional who has the vision and energy to drive forward an ambitious vision for outstanding outcomes for all our students.  We are looking for an inspirational qualified teacher with proven leadership experience who wishes to develop their specialist skills in this interesting and challenging field.  In return, we will offer an enthusiastic learning environment including full induction and training together with Teachers’ Pension Scheme and a non-contributory occupational health scheme

Application Process:

In addition to the Wargrave House School & College application form, please provide a covering letter of 2-3 pages outlining:

a) The relevance of your professional career development to date, within the context of Wargrave House & College 5-25 year student provision.

b) How your skills, values and working ethic will make you a successful Assistant Head who understands the key priorities of our provision to make us a least ‘Good’ across all areas.

c) Any additional/areas unique selling points you wish to headline.

If you are committed to providing the very best to support positive outcomes for our Organisation, we would welcome an application from you. A full job description and personal specification can be found on our website.

Closing date:  Monday 27th July 2020 (by 12:00 noon)

Interviews:     Provisionally TBC within August 2020

Wargrave House Limited operates a safe recruitment process.  Appointment to the post will be subject to suitable references and an enhanced Disclosure Barring Service check. Wargrave House Limited is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.

Introducing Kirsten Jones as our new Welsh Policy Officer

Over the past couple of years we have been extending the role of Natspec so that we are able to respond to the needs of Further Education professionals across the mainstream and specialist sector. We have worked with stakeholders on their behalf and meeting their training needs to improve the quality of provision for students with Additional Learning Needs, particularly those with complex needs.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Kirsten Jones to a new role, Natspec Policy Officer (with a focus on Wales). This position will allow us to expand our capacity in Wales. We will be able to focus on supporting members and working collaboratively with all FE providers and stakeholders in Wales to a much greater extent than we have been able to until now.

Kirsten joins us after a rigorous recruitment process in which she demonstrated her knowledge and passion for the sector. Previously, she was Vice Principal of specialist further education college Coleg Elidyr for five years. Since 2016 she has served as a Natspec Director where she has played a key role representing the sector as Additional Learning Transformation in Wales progresses. Kirsten worked for 15 years in higher education as a Senior Lecturer in psychology and departmental head, widening access to higher education to disadvantaged groups in the south Wales valleys. She is a Doctor of Education and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research areas include SEND, vocational curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Kirsten has strong project management experience and a keen interest in how specialist further education impacts positively on individuals’ life chances.

In her new role, Kirsten says:

“I am thrilled to be joining the Team and look forward to contributing to Natspec’s important work in specialist further education for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities in Wales and across the UK.”

Croeso, Kirsten!

Natspec Awards 2020: Winners

The Natspec Awards aim recognise and celebrate excellent practice in the specialist further education sector. We want to promote innovation, ensure continuous improvement, and raise standards across the sector. As specialist colleges strive to carry on supporting their learners despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by COVID-19, we aim to celebrate the hard work they do.

2020 is the inaugural year of the Natspec Awards. We were pleased to receive over fifty entries from our membership, eighteen of which were shortlisted across the six categories.

The Chair of the Judging Panel, Nigel Evans, said: “It was a privilege to be part of the panel judging the Natspec Awards 2020. The standard of the submissions was very high and demonstrates the innovation, expertise and creativity within the specialist further education sector.”

2020: Shortlist

A staff member assisting a learner with a virtual reality viewer

Innovative Use of Technology

Derwen College

Support Work apps: The development of a series of unique apps – for tablets and mobile phones which support students with special educational needs and disability into and at work.

National Star College

Find My Voice: The development of personalised Augmented Communication Aids that operate across different communication devices.

WESC Foundation

The APOS Talking Till: The creation of the first audible point of sale till software to support young people with visual impairment in the workplace.

Winner: Derwen College

Our judges said: “This project showed a strong use of partnerships resulting in products that are easy to use, professional in appearance and will be easy to transfer to other employment settings.”

 

A student practising hospitality skills in a hotel room

Pathways into Employment

Camphill Wakefield

Access to Community and Employment: An aspirational pathway into employment embedded into the curriculum: Vocational Profiling; job-matching;  in-work support; job-carving and careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Heart of Birmingham Vocational College

Developing a bespoke accredited qualification: Working alongside an employer using RARPA to develop a bespoke accreditation for a supported internship placement.

Landmarks College

Wayfinder Recruitment: Wayfinder Recruitment Agency and the After-College Aftercare Club, create opportunities for young adults to flourish through supported employment.

Winner: Camphill Wakefield

Our judges said: “There is sustainability through the partnerships and community links. Expectations of employment are embedded into learning, and students are supported into employment.”

 

Student Voice

Coleg Elidyr

Coleg Elidyr’s Student Forum: The Student Forum influence organisational quality improvement planning, supported by a Total Communication environment to ensure the voice of all learners is heard and acted upon.

Eat that Frog CIC

Speak That Frog – Student Council: A student council led, shaped, and implemented by learners with the activities needed to maintain it embedded in learning programmes.

Elfrida Rathbone Camden – Leighton College

ERC student magazine and skills fair: The student voice forum’s design and production of Flip magazine and development of the first student-led skills fair.

Winner: Coleg Elidyr

Our judges said: “We were particularly impressed with your commitment to engaging lower level learners in decision making. All learners have been placed firmly at the heart of decision making at the college.”

 

A staff member and a learner communicate by sign language

Wellbeing and Mental Health

Ambitious College

OT Support to Support Regulation and Wellbeing: Implementation of a universal OT provision, which includes an OT TV channel, bespoke curriculum and resources based on zones of regulation, and weekly yoga sessions.

ESPA College

Transgender: Free to be me – Diversity Group: A group for students that offers one-to-one support, family liaison, advocacy and specialist resources to help all students feel included, understood, heard and challenged, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, race or ability.

Queen Alexandra College

SPARK: LGBTQ+ Alliance: A student group which has initiated an inclusive awareness raising campaign about LGBTQ+ issues across the college, held a residential trip and participated in Birmingham Pride.

Winner: Ambitious College

Our judges said: “This was a really innovative idea which had an impact across the whole college. We welcomed the strong evidence from students and others, particularly about the impact of the approach.”

 

A group of people have a discussion around a table

Inter-disciplinary Working

Bridge College

Integration of learning and therapy through Physiotherapy and Sensory Sport: The design and implementation of fully integrated joint lead curriculum-therapy PMLD sessions that are embedded in the college weekly timetable.

National Star College

Right Time, Right Place: The development of the Personalised Learning Co-ordinator Tutor role that supports a consistent approach and a holistic programme across the classroom in both residential and community contexts.

RNIB College Loughborough

Embedding Speech and Language Therapy into the enterprise curriculum: The full integration of the SALT provision into the curriculum team. Joint working between teaching staff and speech and language therapists improves communication in working environments including external work placements and supported internships.

Winner: National Star College

Our judges said: The project has made great progress for learners, staff, related therapy professionals, parents, community links and progression for the learners using RARPA.

 

Two women work together looking at a laptop

Partnership Working

Derwen College

A Sporting Success at Derwen: Through partnership with a range of sports clubs that includes tennis, cricket, water sports and football, students are introduced to community activity whilst at college and in their home area.

Link19 College

KASBAH: A partnership between the college and a supported housing charity that provides opportunities for students to learn transferable employability retail skills in the charity shop and also raises awareness in the community of young people with additional learning needs.

Wargrave House LEAP College

Post 16 and Friends of Lyme and Wood Community Project: A collaboration between the college and community groups that provides a range of work experience opportunities including working with a local Nursery to support forest schooling, setting up a community allotment, work in a pop-up cafe in the park and developing and designing a sensory garden.

Winner: Wargrave House LEAP College

Our judges said: “Students are integral to the community benefit of maintenance and development of park land. Skills development is built into opportunities which are linked to learning goals and outcomes.”

Coronavirus and Specialist Colleges: What’s the State of Play?

Across the country, there are over 100 specialist colleges which deliver further education and training for students with learning difficulties and / or disabilities. Since the general closure of schools and colleges in mid-March, specialist colleges have been working hard to maintain provision.

To assess the impact of coronavirus on specialist colleges, Natspec conducted two surveys: firstly examining the state of play in the week commencing 23 March (the first week of the stricter lockdown rules) and the second in early May.

The results show how the seven weeks of shutdown has affected provision both on and off-site and look to the future in terms of what impact COVID-19 will have on specialist FE provision in the longer term. The response rate was high: 70% in the first survey and 56% in the second. The survey took place before the most recent announcements about the planned re-opening of education settings from June 1, but colleges were asked how they were preparing to readmit students.

Tes FE News have published a write up of the survey.

The Findings

Broadly, the survey revealed that the sector is coping with the existing challenges, and the situation is improving from March. More college sites are open, and to a wider range of learners, though the majority remain at home. Senior Leaders are looking ahead on how to expand provision for more learners to return to face-to-face learning.

However, the survey also revealed significant concerns going forward to the next academic year. 31% of specialist colleges have no students confirmed to start in September, despite the Children and Families Act stating that placements should be agreed by March 31. Although this deadline is routinely missed, the COVID-19 outbreak has exacerbated the situation with decision-making significantly slowed or stalled. The lockdown is making it difficult to assess incoming students, and normal procedures for transition are being disrupted.

Not only is this causing considerable stress and anxiety for young people, who are unsure where they might be for the next academic year, it also has serious financial implications for specialist colleges. Colleges are unable to plan for the upcoming year, not knowing how many students they have or what funding they will receive, and a number of colleges are reporting concerns about the financial health of their organisations.

The Survey

The full write up of the survey, with comparisons between the situation in May and March, is also available to download.

Natspec Highlights March 2020

We end March in a very different position from where we started it.

The COVID-19 crisis has placed new pressures on specialist colleges, and they have risen to the challenge in ensuring the young people they care for are kept safe – whether this is within college or at home. We are continuing to keep our guidance about the pandemic for specialist colleges up-to-date with new information as we have it. Natspec remains open to support our members through this time.

As these stories cover the period of the entirety of March – and some from before – they cover a time when learners were still able to go out safely into their local communities. Right now, specialist colleges are focussed on keeping students safe, whether by remaining open for vulnerable young people or by providing the means for them to continue their education at home.

Read on for stories about how colleges got involved in National Careers Week, get involved with developing local and national policy, and success at a dance competition! Plus, this month’s announcement of the Natspec Award’s shortlist.

Contents

  1. Announcing the shortlist for the 2020 Natspec Awards
  2. National Careers Week
  3. Basic Skills award for Homefield students
  4. Queen Alexandra College students attend the Midlands Colleges Parliamentary Reception
  5. Learners Become Inspectors!
  6. Work placement success for Trinity Specialist College students
  7. All the right moves for Derwen Dance Crew
  8. A specialist team that helps children and young people to communicate has grown
  9. New College Worcester hosts Dine in the Dark

Announcing the shortlist for the 2020 Natspec Awards

The Natspec Awards aim to recognise and celebrate excellent practice in the specialist further education sector. We want to promote innovation, continuous improvement, and raise standards across the sector. As specialist colleges strive to carry on supporting their learners despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by COVID-19, we hope to celebrate the hard work they do.

On Monday, we were very happy to announce the 18 shortlisted entries.

The winners will now be announced at Natspec’s Principals Forum on the 8 October.


National Careers Week

A number of Natspec colleges got involved in National Careers Week, demonstrating everything they do to help learners move into employment. Here are stories from just some of the colleges who participated.

Portland College

At Portland College, learners took part in Application and Interview Day which were organised by the college’s Information, Advice, Guidance and Transition team.

On Monday they created application forms. Then, on Thursday they took part in practice job interviews with external employers from Cerealto, Creswell Crags, Nottinghamshire County Council and Your Space Health and Fitness Club. The employers gave positive feedback to the learners and tips on areas to develop.

Derwen College

Students at Derwen College took on work-related tasks and challenges in Horticulture, Retail, Hospitality and Housekeeping, and Performing Arts.

A number of 'i couldn't but I can now' posters, with things such as 'learn my lines' 'make ceramic bowls' and 'do karate' listedStudents were invited to take part in a poster competition highlighting the work and independence skills they had learnt whilst at College. The ‘I couldn’t, but now I can …” competition received 47 entries which demonstrated a huge variety of skills. Themes varied across employment, independence and social skills and included skills such as using a till in the Orangery Restaurant, learning lines for a performance, making sandwiches, using kitchen knife skills, folding clothes and going out to work in the community.

Of the competition, Derwen College Governor Barbara Court said: “It was inspiring to see such a large number of entries covering a diverse range of skills and knowledge that students recognised they had acquired whilst at College. These were transferable skills that will serve students in their work and independence skills at College, and in the future.”

The week also offered the opportunity for businesses and employers to visit to see how Derwen College supports students into work, and to view a demonstration of the College’s newly developed CV Builder app.

Derwen has created and developed innovative new apps to further support students into work. The College has developed a suite of apps as part of a ‘Support Work’ project, funded via the Marches LEP Growth Deal with Government for capital skills projects.

Derwen College Quality Manager Samantha Brown said that the College is constantly supporting students in the pursuit of suitable employment, and they were pleased to focus on National Careers Week.

She said, “Careers Week provides a platform to celebrate the wider world of work. By embracing an across-college approach to career guidance and providing an insight into future work or learning possibilities through positive and fun exploration, we hope to empower students to develop and express their own aspirations.”


Basic Skills award for Homefield students

Students from Homefield College with their certificatesSix students from Homefield College successfully completed the Basic Skills course at Giving World, a charity that redistributes end-of-the-line and surplus products to communities in need. Each week a different student took on the role of group leader, demonstrating the task for that session and assigning duties to each team member. Over the course of eight weeks, the team quality-checked and packaged 5000 toothbrushes, 3000 pencils and hundreds of school jumpers. It was a great experience enjoyed by all the group, who developed their communication, team-working and leadership skills.


Queen Alexandra College students attend the Midlands Colleges Parliamentary Reception

Two students from QAC attending the parliamentary receptionQueen Alexandra College (QAC) were recently invited to attend the annual ‘Celebrating Midlands Colleges’ Parliamentary reception in London. The event, organised by the Association of Colleges (AoC), provided a great opportunity to celebrate the significant contribution colleges make to communities and local economies in the East and West Midlands.

QAC sent two of their Student Council Reps, Connor and Adam, as well as Deputy Principal Jan Gormley and Curriculum Area Manager Andy Ainsworth to represent QAC!

They all had a brilliant time and were able to take away some useful information from the various speakers and guests, such as the Secretary of State for Education and a number of MPs.


Learners Become Inspectors!

Learners from portland college contribute to a table discussionIn March, four learners from Portland College – Ryan and Tyler from the Demonstrate learner journey and Matthew and Chelsea from the Progress journey – attended a Young Inspectors co-production event that was held in Leicester.

The East Midlands is looking at reforming their SEND policy and has representation from professionals and families, but currently they have no input from children and young people.

This event trained young people as young inspectors who can go into services across the county. There, they can provide feedback based on their own experiences and make recommendations for improvements across the service.

The learners had a great day and represented themselves and Portland College very well. They all hope to be inspecting their first service very soon!


Work placement success for Trinity Specialist College students

Jack gives a thumbs up in his Asda uniformJack, from Trinity Specialist College, secured a week placement at ASDA Minworth after being successful at interview. He worked 9.00 until 3.00 on Monday 9th until Friday 13th of March with support from key staff.

Jack developed excellent speaking and listening skills by communicating with a range of customers and co-workers, he followed direction and exceeded expectations. Jack’s responsibilities included replenishing stock, checking for out of date items, supporting customers to find what they want and rumbling where you have to put all the things back people leave around the store. By the end of the week he was restocking twelve trollies of items in only a few hours.

Jack learnt a lot about the history of ASDA and delivered a short presentation to his peers at Trinity Specialist College.

Jack stated “it was hard work and the days where long, but I made new friends, learnt lots of new skills and even accepted banter from some members of the public. I found it a rewarding experience and it made me realise I would like to work in this area when I leave college”.

Hanniel secured a voluntary role at The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas after a successful interview. He attended his first meet and greet session, meeting other volunteers new and old. He was a little nervous at first but did brilliantly standing up in front of a room full of people with no support. He introduced himself, talked about interests and was confident to answer questions put to him. It was a great opportunity to engage in conversations around the table throughout the day.

Hanniel has since started to volunteer on a weekly basis at the Arboretum. He wears his volunteers uniform with pride and works hard throughout his four hour shift. He helps within the food services department clearing and cleaning the tables, helping with drinks and condiments and is becoming confident in answering questions from visitors about the Arboretum. He is building good relationships with other volunteers who enjoy his company and have been extremely helpful in making Hanniel feel part of the team. The Arboretum has over 300,000 visitors a year and gets extremely busy during peak hours, Hanniel has successfully adapted to the fast pace of the catering department.

Hanniel will have the opportunity to complete training at the Arboretum and is already booked to go on a first aid course. The Arboretum staff have organised a trip to The Back to Back Houses in Birmingham as a thankyou to the volunteers and Hanniel is looking forward to attending.

Hanniel stated “I really like going to the Arboretum especially seeing lots of new people. I really like helping the people there. It is busy, but have lots of tasks to do and this keeps me occupied…you also get lunch and the food is amazing!”.


All the right moves for Derwen Dance Crew

A group shot of the Derwen Dance Crew in their matching red jacketsDerwen Dance Crew (DDC), made up of talented students from Derwen College entered Nexstar dance competition in Wolverhampton. The team performed as a group and with individual performances, receiving standing ovations from the audience and professional judges.

The team of 10 students were thrilled to win first prize in the over 16s SEN Street Crew category.

Students Ben and Billie-Jo also wowed judges when competing against mainstream dance schools. Ben was awarded second place in the over-16s mainstream Street solo, and Billie-Jo achieved fifth place in the over-16s mainstream contemporary solo.

The judges were impressed by the high standard of DDC, with two handing out the highest possible marks for the group’s performance. The achievement was made especially incredible as DDC was only launched in January, giving students just six weeks of rehearsal time to learn four group dances.

Student Ben was delighted to receive a trophy for his performance in the mainstream street dance competition. The Performing Arts student, whose speciality is the ‘freeze frame’ move, said he was very happy with DDC’s success.

“I was emotional and cried happy tears. I was very proud to dance in front of my parents and in memory of my grandma who recently passed away,” he said.

“It felt like I was a professional dancer. I have been dancing a long time and would like to do it as a career. Carrying on my Street Dancing at Derwen College has made me more confident.

Ben has been performing street dance since he was at school and said he was pleased to be able to share his skills with Derwen College students.


A specialist team that helps children and young people to communicate has grown

A specialist speech and language therapy team at Doncaster Deaf Trust that helps children and young people to communicate has grown.

The Speech and Language Therapy Team works with children and young people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have communication needs including autism at Doncaster School for the Deaf and Communication Specialist College Doncaster, both under the Doncaster Deaf Trust management.

Emma Robinson and Lauren Woodcock, who have been delivering the specialist support for almost five years are looking forward to welcoming a new member Emma to the team.

Emma said: “We are really excited to be growing the Speech and Language Therapy team based onsite at Doncaster Deaf Trust. We are looking forward to Emma Taylor joining us in February and helping us to provide the support the children and young people at school and college need. We get involved in all aspects of the pupils and students’ educational journey, right from the initial assessments to working out individual plans to meet their communication needs.”

Alexis Johnson, executive principal said: “We are pleased to be expanding this vital service for our children and young people. Along with our onsite audiologist, the Speech and Language team are a real part and parcel of the fabric of our organisation.

“Our pupils, students and their parents have the support they need from the team to ensure that individual needs are met via this specialist one to one and group service.

“Lauren and Emma both go above and beyond what is expected of them to ensure that our young people build their communication confidence and we are sure that with the extra resource we are investing in the team will have even more impact.”

Helping others learn British Sign Language

Doncaster Deaf Trust have also launched a new online course allowing anyone to sign up and learn British Sign Language up to level one. This is a great opportunity to learn some basic sign language – you never know when it might become useful!


New College Worcester hosts Dine in the Dark

Learner and Felice Tocchini in the kitchen preparing foodA charity event that has been in the planning for two years finally came to fruition in March and what an impressive event it was! With the support of top local Chef, Felice Tocchini, NCW held its first ever blindfold dinner at Feli’s Bar and Restaurant in Worcestershire. Guests wore a blindfold and enjoyed a four course meal, which was a truly sensational sensory experience. Each course was attractively presented and was a gastronomic treat. Diners were encouraged to wear their blindfolds throughout the meal but found it really difficult. It was a real insight into some of challenges faced daily by people who are vision impaired.

NCW students Andrew and Stuart worked alongside Felice Tocchini in preparing for the event. Both are studying Level 3 Food Science and Nutrition. He explained how to make sauces and mousses as well as demonstrated the skills of smoking ingredients and rolling pastry properly. These dishes were then incorporated into the exciting menu that Felice had devised.

During the event Andrew and Stuart helped host the evening, answering questions to enable diners to explore the world of vision impairment. They were confident and articulate and explained that although they have a vision impairment they have learnt to accept and manage it in order to achieve success.

Ms Emanuel, Head of Independent Living Skills said: “As a teacher you can inspire and have belief, and students here need to trust you and have the confidence to take risks. It is an absolute honour to have taught Stuart and Andrew since year 8 and to have seen them grow, learn and believe in themselves.”

Announcing the shortlist for the 2020 Natspec Awards

The Natspec Awards aim to recognise and celebrate excellent practice in the specialist further education sector. We want to promote innovation, continuous improvement, and raise standards across the sector. As specialist colleges strive to carry on supporting their learners despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by COVID-19, we hope to celebrate the hard work they do.

Today, we are pleased to announce the shortlisted entries for the awards.

2020 is the inaugural year of the awards, recognising six areas of practice where specialist providers are doing amazing and incredible things. Shortlisted entries will now go forward to be considered by an independent panel of experts chaired by Nigel Evans former lead HMI for High Needs.

Initially, the awards were to be presented at Natspec’s National Conference in May. This is, unfortunately, no longer possible. But we are determined to celebrate this year’s awards winners and have therefore decided to postpone the announcement on winners to the 8 October, at the Principals’ Forum. This will give us a chance to present the awards the way we want to, and celebrate the specialist sector amongst friends.

Clare Howard, Natspec’s Chief Executive said:

“At Natspec we greatly value the skills and talents of staff working in the specialist further education sector. Their work deserves to be recognised and celebrated and the Natspec Awards provide the perfect opportunity to do this.

In this first year of the Natspec Awards we were delighted to receive over 50 entries from members. The entries covered a great variety of work illustrating the diverse and innovative practice across the specialist further education sector.

Overall, the standard of entries was high, and some difficult decisions had to be made when finalising the shortlists.

I am pleased to announce the shortlisted entries for each award category. Many congratulations to all who have made to the shortlists and many thanks to everyone who sent in entries this year.”

The shortlist

Innovative Use of Technology

A staff member assisting a learner with a virtual reality viewer

Derwen College

Support Work apps: The development of a series of unique ‘apps’ – for tablets and mobile phones which support students with special educational needs and disability into and at work.

National Star College

Find My Voice: The development of personalised Augmented Communication Aids that operate across different communication devices.

WESC Foundation

The APOS Talking Till: The creation of the first audible point of sale till software to support young people with visual impairment in the workplace.

Pathways into Employment

A student practising hospitality skills in a hotel room

Camphill Wakefield

Access to Community and Employment: An aspirational pathway into employment embedded  into the curriculum: Vocational Profiling; job-matching;  in-work support; job-carving and careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Heart of Birmingham Vocational College

Developing a bespoke accredited qualification: Working alongside an employer using Rarpa to develop a bespoke accreditation for a supported internship placement.

Landmarks College

Wayfinder Recruitment: Wayfinder Recruitment Agency and the After-College Aftercare Club, create opportunities for young adults to flourish through supported employment.

Student Voice

Two students giving a presentation at the student voice parliament

Coleg Elidyr

Coleg Elidyr’s Student Forum: The Student Forum influence organisational quality improvement planning, supported by a Total Communication environment to ensure the voice of all learners is heard and acted upon.

Eat that Frog CIC

Speak That Frog – Student Council: A student council led, shaped, and implemented by learners with the activities needed to maintain it embedded in learning programmes.

Elfrida Rathbone Camden – Leighton College

ERC student magazine and skills fair: The student voice forum’s design and production of Flip magazine and development of the first student-led skills fair.

Wellbeing and Mental Health

A staff member and a learner communicate by sign language

Ambitious College

OT Support to Support Regulation and Wellbeing: Implementation of a universal OT provision, which includes an OT TV channel, bespoke curriculum and resources based on zones of regulation, and weekly yoga sessions.

ESPA College

Transgender: Free to be me – Diversity Group: A group for students that offers one to one support, family liaison, advocacy and specialist resources to help all students feel included, understood, heard and challenged; regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, race or ability.

Queen Alexandra College

SPARK: LGBTQ+ Alliance: A student group which has initiated an inclusive awareness raising campaign about LGBTQ+ issues across the college, held a residential trip and participated in Birmingham Pride.

Inter-disciplinary working

A group of people have a discussion around a table

Bridge College

Integration of learning and therapy through Physiotherapy and Sensory Sport: The design and implementation of fully integrated joint lead curriculum-therapy PMLD sessions that are embedded in the college weekly timetable.

National Star College

Right Time, Right Place: The development of the Personalised Learning Co-ordinator Tutor role that supports a consistent approach, and a holistic programme across the classroom in both residential and community contexts.

RNIB College Loughborough

Embedding Speech and Language Therapy into the enterprise curriculum: The full integration of the SALT provision into the curriculum team.  Joint working between teaching staff and speech and language therapists improve communication in working environments including external work placements and supported internships.

Partnership working

Two women work together looking at a laptop

Derwen College

A Sporting Success at Derwen: Through partnership with a range of sports clubs that includes tennis, cricket, water sports and football, students are introduced to community activity whilst at college and in home area.

Link19 College

KASBAH: A partnership between the college and a supported housing charity that provides opportunities for students to learn transferable employability retail skills in the charity shop and, raise awareness in the community of young people with additional learning needs.

Wargrave House LEAP College

Post 16 and Friends of Lyme and Wood Community Project: A collaboration between the college and community groups that provides a range of work experience opportunities including working with a local Nursery to support forest schooling, setting up a community allotment, work in a pop-up cafe in the park and developing and designing  a sensory garden.