ETF Study Programmes toolkit launch for SEND FE

Over the course of several months, Natspec has been working closely with our associates and the ETF to create a set of toolkits aimed at SEND professionals responsible for curriculum planning in FE.

Here are the toolkits available to access for free.

Supported internship leaflet

Supported internships are incredibly valuable for young people with SEND to develop confidence, communications and key employability skills. Engaging employers from the outset isn’t always easy and straightforward for providers.  Download a customisable leaflet which you can use to explain supported internships to employers.

Working with learning support assistants

Learning support assistants are one of your most valuable resources in SEND provision – and the most expensive too, so effective use of LSAs is essential. We have put together an in-house development activity for tutors and LSAs to work through together, to help you make the most of the LSAs in your setting. Get access here.

Competition in the vocational curriculum

Competition activity is a great way to raise aspirations, improve learners’ skills and employment prospects, strengthen learning programmes and introduce an element of excitement into the vocational curriculum. We worked with ETF to compile the following information to use in your curriculum and activity planning. Get access here.

Co-creating the curriculum

Co-creating the curriculum is a great way to involve learners in deciding what to learn and how they might be taught. This toolkit has been designed to help curriculum managers and tutors in FE settings to explore co-creation, explain the concept to colleagues and engage their learners with SEND in co-creating their curriculum in a meaningful way. Learn more and access the toolkit here.

View other toolkits and resources at the ETF

Natspec Network | January 2019 Highlights

Welcome back to all our members, associates and wider network. We’ve had a brilliant year so far working on new CPD opportunities for members, planning the Natspec National Conference in April 2019 and attending consultations and a parliamentary reception to raise the profile of issues relating to SEND in FE.

Members of the network have also made exciting announcements and are getting involved in new projects and initiatives; including multiple award nominations, updated student success stories, and physical activity initiatives.

  1. Five Natspec colleges shortlisted for specialist provider of the year at TES FE awards
  2. Triple award nomination for National Star
  3. Learning Disability Charity are named Lincoln FC Charity Partners
  4. Updated: Students at work
  5. Visual impairment no obstacle for college students’ Dartmoor challenge
  6. Rewarding adventurous students thanks to lasting legacy
  7. Kidz to Adultz Middle | Free event for children and young adults up to 25
  8. Latest Natspec News and Transform Training and Events newsletter
  9. Natspec National Conference 2019

Five Natspec colleges shortlisted for the 2019 Specialist Provider of the Year at TES FE awards

We’re pleased to see the recognition of the great work our colleges do to support young people with SEND to develop personally and socially, provide specialist learning programmes and support work-life aspirations. Five Natspec colleges have been nominated for TES FE’s Specialist Provider of the Year award for 2019, with the winner to be announced at a gala award ceremony in London on March 22. These are:

  • Coleg Elidyr
  • Derwen College
  • Foxes Academy
  • National Star
  • Queen Alexandra College

Triple awards nomination for National Star

Aoc Beacon shortlist promo image

National Star, a specialist college for young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties, has been shortlisted for three national awards.

In addition to being shortlisted for the specialist provider of the year for the TES FE awards 2019, they are a finalist in two other categories for AoC Beacon Awards: British Council International Award and RCU Support for Learners Award.

The winners will be announced at the ceremony in London on March 22.

“To make the finals of three categories in the most prestigious education awards in this country is a tribute to our multi-disciplinary team and their incredible work,” said David Ellis, Chief Executive of National Star.

National Star last year supported 647 people with disabilities. It shared its expertise with more than 2,800 professionals and people in the sector.

Learning Disability Charity is named Lincoln FC Charity Partners

linkage chosen as charity partner to local football clubLinkage Community Trust, a local learning disability charity, has been chosen by the public to become Lincoln City Football Club’s Charity of the Year for 2019. The partnership with Lincoln City FC will help Linkage further its work in ensuring that people with learning disabilities receive the support they need to achieve their aspirations.

Valerie Waby, CEO of Linkage said “Linkage has been doing amazing things for people with learning disabilities across Lincolnshire for 43 years. However, beyond the learning disability community we’re not hugely well known, and like most charities, we are not blessed with huge financial resources. This partnership with Lincoln City FC will make a massive difference to us, helping us build our supporter base and raise money. We are rightly proud of what we do, but we need more people to know just how amazing Linkage is, and the difference that we make to the lives of those with learning disabilities. Thank you to every single person who voted for us.”

As Lincoln City Charity Club Partners, Linkage will receive priority for fundraising support and profile awareness. The Club will also assist the charity with fundraising activities, including match day bucket collections.

Updated: Students at work

We’ve updated our students at work series highlighting the accomplishments of young people with SEND excelling in their work experience and achieving full and part-time employment opportunities. Read student stories here.

Visual impairment no obstacle for college students’ Dartmoor challenge

9 students with visual impairment participating in ten tors trainingNine visually-impaired students from WESC Foundation’s college in Exeter, Devon, have begun their training sessions for the annual Ten Tors outdoor challenge, which each year attracts teenagers from all over the south-west to the relative wilderness of Dartmoor.

Taking part in the training alongside teachers and other support staff, many members of the WESC Foundation team will be hoping to complete their second or even third “Jubilee Challenge” later this year. The event is aimed at young people with a range of challenging conditions including sensory impairment and physical disability, and participants aim to complete routes of up to 15 miles, with the terrain, distance and climate all conspiring against success.

Ten Tors training is one of the highlights in a busy programme of enrichment, community engagement and work placements. Students have access to retail, horticultural, tourism and business opportunities delivered through a network of local businesses and WESC Foundation’s own social enterprise department.

Organised by the Army’s Headquarters South West, Ten Tors brings together around 2,500 young people from schools and further education colleges across the region.

A new award in memory of a remarkable young woman

arran hands award over to steveDerwen College, near Oswestry, has been given the honour of delivering an award – which will be presented every year by The Kirstin Royle Trust to one of Derwen’s students who has challenged themselves through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

The Kirstin Royle Trust was set up in 1993 in memory of Kirstin who died aged 22. The trust began with the aim of providing opportunities for young people to participate in challenging activities that give them a real sense of adventure. Kirstin was a kind and compassionate teacher who loved the outdoors, so it seemed natural that the trust provided opportunities for young people to participate in activities that would otherwise be very difficult for them.

The trust has also made a contribution to the Raymond Priestley Centre in Coniston where Derwen College students spend time as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.

Derwen College, in Gobowen, is a specialist college for young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. The college offers students the opportunity to learn new skills in real work environments and to learn life skills which will enable them to live as independently as possible. Last year, 60 learners from the college completed their D of E awards at Bronze, Silver or Gold levels.

Kidz to Adultz Middle | Free event for children and young adults up to 25

Take advantage of a free event aimed at young people with SEND who are 25 and under on Thursday 21 March, 9.30am – 4.30pm. This event is also open to parents, carers, guardians and professionals who work closely with young people with SEND. With 120+ exhibitors attending, there’ll be plenty of information, advice and guidance available for visitors to benefit from.

Learn more and book your place.

disabled living promotional image

Latest Natspec News and Transform Training and Events newsletter

Read more on the latest from our member colleges and their community partnerships by viewing our latest Natspec News: January 2019 edition. The newsletter covers great stories and examples of specialist FE colleges working with organisations in their communities to raise awareness about important topics or provide employment opportunities to young people with SEND.

Interested in the latest CPD opportunities from Natspec? Our latest Natspec Transform: Training and Events newsletter lists our upcoming workshops, networks and conferences.

Natspec National Conference 2019

The national conference for SEND professionals working in post-16 education is taking place on 2 and 3 April 2019. The conference will be packed with useful information on best practice, insights and experiences on the different aspects of working with young people with SEND. In addition to the workshops, keynotes and hot topics that are taking place on issues ranging from managing local authority relationships, assistive technology to learner’s voice and more – you’ll also have the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues and engage in discussions about your shared experiences.

Learn more about the event and book your place.

Gaining ground and new experiences

Sharfin worked for two years at the Tennis Club as part of a group placement before being chosen to undertake their first Supported Internship in September 2018 based on his level of interest, hard work and practical skills. Sharfin has low literacy and numeracy skills but these have been no barrier to him developing and growing in his role as Trainee Groundsperson. He has also been working hard towards an Open Awards Entry 1 Certificate in Skills for Employment in the Horticulture Sector that has been designed so that he can be assessed practically.

Sharfin during his internship

In his role he has learnt many new skills: weather-proofing trailers and other expensive equipment, clearing leaves using a leaf blower, planting and cultivating plants and shrubs and maintaining and cleaning indoor tennis courts. His confidence has grown professionally and personally with Sharfin now greeting tennis club members and initiating conversations with his colleagues. He has also been acting as a team leader for other learners with learning disabilities on work placement at the tennis club. He has recently had an article written about him by his manager in the Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club staff newsletter.

Cooking up a storm & earning new skills

Jack has been working at the restaurant for one year and has been an intern since September 2018. He has been working in the kitchen preparing vegetables and sandwiches, using the dishwasher and keeping the place clean as well as supporting staff members. Jack is also working towards an Open Award Level 1 Certificate in Skills for Employment in the Catering industry alongside his internship. His manager informed the team at Heart of Birmingham Vocational College that employment would be considered if Jack could work at the front of the house and given Jack’s ASD and associated communication issues this posed uncertainty over the outcome of the internship. Working in partnership with the employer Jack was set a target of spending ten minutes on the sandwich bar serving a familiar member of staff their choice of sandwich. In addition to this target and to develop his skills Jack also completed a unit on “Developing Customer Service Skills”.

Jack at work

Jack exceeded his target by spending the entire lunch service assisting familiar staff as well as contractors and visitors while providing excellent customer service and staying calm under pressure. Jack is now running the sandwich bar independently at the Fire Services HQ and in addition to serving staff and students hot lunches in our college restaurant on Fridays, it’s given our own hardworking chef a much-needed break! Well done Jack – what a phenomenal achievement!

Are Students at the Centre of our Technology Provision?

TechAbility Assistive Technologist Neil Beck uncovers key insights from visiting colleges and helping them use technology to improve outcomes for learners.

While working at TechAbility, a Natspec service that aims to help FE providers introduce and make effective use of assistive technology for their staff and learners, we have identified several key themes that have shaped our understanding of improving AT outcomes in SEND provision. We have had the chance to visit a number of colleges and centres; one of the interesting elements we’ve identified is the importance of “soft skills.” We were pleasantly surprised with the feedback we had for a webinar focusing on the staff who might be reluctant or nervous to use technology. So, how can we explore this further?

Soft skills and good communication are critical. I am reminded of a particular day when I had a short amount of time to check up on a student using dictation technology and introduce a grammar tool for two other students. With the limited time I had, my first instinct was to tell the dictation user what they were doing wrong and then quickly dive into showing the technology for the other two students without further interaction. What would the outcome have been?

Well the student using their voice would have likely felt demotivated and less likely to use the technology; it would have been a real shame not to celebrate and encourage a method they were making real progress with. For the other two students it would have been a missed opportunity to assess their understanding first and again, to make the use of technology a positive experience rather than a daunting one.

It’s why we should always choose to focus on the individual first, rather than the technology. Solutions that work on paper often hit serious barriers because we miss that person-centred approach.

Given that resilience and enjoyment are key factors in using technology effectively, how much should we be focusing on these elements? Should TechAbility deliver a webinar on these subjects? I’d love to hear your stories and what you think. Do get in touch and please feedback your thoughts on the current webinars available on the TechAbility webinar channel.

Neil Beck
Assistive Technologist

Erasmus+ social inclusion project

Harmonisation of Inclusive practices towards persons with disabilities within European skills competitions.

students on work experience at visit to minehead by erasmus+ team
Visit to Foxes Academy in Minehead by the Erasmus team

The Erasmus+ social inclusion project led by Abilympics France is an international 2-year project aimed at sharing best practice on the benefits of European inclusive skills competitions on developing the abilities of young people with SEND and understand the viability of developing a future European-level skills competition.

The project focusses on sharing best practice to improve young people’s skills and abilities through competition activity so they are equipped to flourish in life after college, especially if they move into employment.

The participating countries: France, Germany, Scotland, Finland and England held their first meeting in England at Birmingham, World Skills UK Live where the UK national inclusive skills competition took place. This followed a trip to Minehead to visit Foxes Academy’s training hotel where young people undertake work experience and skills development in hospitality.

The first meeting, which involved young people and teachers sharing ‘hands-on’ practice was positive and many outcomes were extracted to implement going forward. The next meeting will be in Glasgow in May and once information about the skills that will be hosted is available, we will reach out to Natspec members about the opportunities available to them.
For further information about this project, please contact Louise Keevil.

Natspec Network | December Highlights

December’s highlights are here early this month as many organisations and providers wind down for Christmas break. We’re pleased to be closing off the last highlights of the year with some great news from the specialist sector. Here are the items in this piece:

  1. Sporting marvel Sami hits the ground running at London South East Colleges
  2. Coventry athlete opens redesigned living space at Hereward College
  3. Royal Opening for Boultham Park Education Centre
  4. Learner from Boroughbridge has won an industry award at a prestigious ceremony

Sporting marvel Sami hits the ground running

This year, a student from Dorton College – RSBC’s Further Education College has been creating huge waves amongst her fellow students and teachers at London South East Colleges’ Bromley Campus.

Sayma Begum (aka Sami), started to lose her sight at the age of just 6 years old and now lives with, and successfully manages, a severe degenerative visual impairment. None of this has held the 16-year-old back, and she is currently careering ahead on her Sport and Exercise course.

Sayma Begum - Sami, sport and fitness student

Sami left school last Summer with an excellent set of GCSEs including good grades in English and maths. With an interest in sports and fitness and a particular love of football and table tennis, Sami decided that she wanted to put her talents towards promoting health, fitness training and sports development in her future career.

Sami says: “I have ambitions to become a sports physiotherapist one day. I’d love to work with professional footballers treating sports injuries – my ideal job would be to work for Liverpool FC, my favourite team.

“I discovered my passion for all things physiology and anatomy during biology lessons at school and knew from an early age what I wanted to do. Because of my visual impairment, I am currently living in at Dorton College and attend the Bromley Campus for 3 days a week.

“At Dorton, I am helped with my living and independence skills and I have two wonderful Learning Support Assistants, Catherine and Janine who guide me through any potential issues regarding my written and theory projects. They are a great help to me and enable me to study without any barriers.”

Sami’s course tutor at London South East Colleges is Karen Giannini. She has been impressed with how well Sami has integrated with her classmates and become a major contributor to the group’s dynamics. She says: “Not only is Sami a very bright and enthusiastic student, but she also has a wonderful personality, charisma in bundles and learns at an amazing pace. We aren’t even at the end of our first term and she is already a big success. I am so glad she joined my class; it is students like her who make teaching a real pleasure.”

Recently, Sami has won a Jack Petchey Award for sporting excellence and inspiring her fellow students. She is currently awaiting to take part in a work placement at a nearby gymnasium and leisure complex in Bromley and has achieved a massive 97% attendance record at the College.

Offering her own personal advice and words of wisdom, Sami adds: “You simply have to make good use of all the senses and abilities you have and not dwell on those that you don’t. You must also do the things you love – and love the things you do. Nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goals and ambitions, and although my physical sight is poor, I can see my future very clearly.”

Coventry athlete opens redesigned living space at Hereward college

Coventry-based wheelchair athlete, Kare Adenegan has officially opened a newly revamped residential living space at Hereward College in Coventry – Cofa’s Tree Lodge.

Karen Adenegan outside newly established living space at Hereward college with some of the students

Hereward College, which provides young people with disabilities with the skills needed for independent living and employment, caters for around 250 students on a day and residential basis.

The newly refurbished and purpose built residential accommodation includes fully accessible bedrooms and bathrooms, adjustable kitchens, and state of the art assistive technology.

Students who stay at the college access dedicated arts & crafts and cooking area, take part in health and wellbeing activities, and plan social and group events.  The college also offers respite care breaks for young adults.

Jane Ferguson, Vice Principal Safeguarding and Pastoral Care said: “We are delighted to be able to upgrade our residential provision to our students. The young people who choose to stay at Hereward develop independence and life skills, make new friends, gain confidence, and take more control over their own care supported by a highly experienced team of staff.”

Royal Opening for Boultham Park Education Centre

On Tuesday 11th December Linkage, the Lincolnshire-based learning disability charity, was proud to receive HRH The Princess Royal at the Boultham Park Education Centre.

HRH the royal princess visiting Linkage college

Her Royal Highness attended the site to officially open the Education Centre which is home to Linkage College, Lincolnshire’s only specialist further education college for people with learning difficulties and disabilities.

HRH visiting Linkage college 2

During the two hour visit Her Royal Highness was given the opportunity to see firsthand the how the charity, and the facilities which have been built as part of the Boultham Park Restoration Project, support young people and adults with learning disabilities.

The Boultham Park Restoration Project is a partnership project between Linkage Community Trust and City of Lincoln Council who have been awarded £2.7 million in grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund Parks for People programme to restore Boultham Park. The Linkage facilities at the site include The Boultham Park Education Centre, Linkage Community Support housing at Rookery Court, the Boultham Park Horticulture Centre and the Boultham Park Café which are also both operated by Linkage

At the Education Centre and Horticulture Centre Princess Anne observed a range of lessons in progress including Lego®-based Therapy, a new approach to teaching and learning which uses Lego as a way to support language development, social skills and numeracy. Her Royal Highness also visited the home of a resident at Rookery Court where people develop their independent living skills whilst still being able to access care services from Linkage.

Throughout the afternoon Her Royal Highness met and spoke with a number of college students and Linkage clients who are supported through Linkage Care Services and Linkage Adult Skills, a day service for people with learning disabilities. Linkage CEO, Valerie Waby, who showed Her Royal Highness around said: “The Princess Royal seemed to very much enjoy her time speaking with clients, students and staff. She had a genuine in interest in the work we do, as well as an understanding of the issues we face. To hear her say that as a charity we have a model which should be expanded and adopted by others was a particularly proud moment.”

Learner from CSCD has won an industry award at a prestigious ceremony

Spraying cars for a living turned from a dream to a reality for a 21-year-old Deaf student from Boroughbridge and he has now been awarded an industry accolade for his work.

Joseph Brown, a former residential student at Communication Specialist College Doncaster (CSCD), was given the award for his skills in paint work from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and named the overall winner at the event by the Federation of the Motor Industry. The awards were presented by Prince Michael of Kent who was very impressed with Joseph.

Joseph Brown, student at Borough bridge awarded industry award at prestigious event

Following successful work placements, Joseph took up his first full-time job in July last year at James Wood Automotive Refinishers Ltd in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and has recently been recognised at the IMI’s Outstanding Achiever Awards ceremony.

He said; “I’m thrilled to have received the award for paintwork and to receive the Federation of the Motor Industry bursary. Working in this motor industry was something I always dreamed of, so to be recognised for my work is fantastic.

Joseph was at college for four years, he studied car body and spraying in his first two years at CSCD and in his third year he concentrated on spraying, with his final year involving an internship.

Andy Boothroyd, tutor at Communication Specialist College Doncaster, said: “We are all so proud of Joseph and what he has achieved.

“He worked hard at college and learned a lot from his tutors including Sanjay Topiwala, one of his main tutors, whose years of experience and expertise were used to help Joseph reach a high standard. Sanjay also helped him to gain his additional custom paint qualification.

“It is fantastic to see that Joseph has used the skills he learned to do an outstanding job in his chosen career.”

The team at James Wood Automotive Refinishers have learned a number of basic signs from Joseph and they use pads and pens and a white board to communicate.

James Wood said: “We are extremely pleased that Joseph’s hard work has been rewarded in this way. He is a very dedicated and talented member of the team.

“Having a Deaf employee was a real unknown to us before Joseph and his family approached us. Thankfully his college came out and supported his work experience and his transition into work and we’ve never looked back.”

SEND funding announcement: Natspec response

Education Secretary Damien Hinds has announced that local authorities will receive an additional £250 million over the next two years for the high needs budget, and an extra £100m to create more specialist places in schools and colleges, including facilities and specialist equipment.

Natspec Chief Executive Clare Howard welcomed the announcement:

“This new funding is much needed and Natspec is keen to work with local authorities to ensure that both the existing and new funding for high needs is used to best effect. We know that there is still a significant funding gap, with Local Government Association research identifying a shortfall of almost £500m in 2018/19, and the number of young people aged 16-25 with EHCPs continuing to rise. 

We are also pleased that Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP has written separately to AoC and Natspec to confirm that the new funding can be used for post-16 provision in colleges as well as schools. The issues for colleges are different from those in schools, and therefore the solutions might also need to be different.

Whilst the proportion of children in specialist provision is rising in the school sector, the same is not true of colleges, and specialist colleges are increasingly offering day provision for young people living locally. Meanwhile, there are approximately 20,000 students with EHCPs placed in FE colleges who are not funded under the high needs funding system and receive no additional support.

We are therefore keen to work with the LGA and individual councils about the best use of the money as it relates to 16-25-year-olds. This may mean that we need to make better use of and invest in existing provision – both specialist and mainstream – rather than creating new centres which could ultimately be a false economy costing more in the longer term”.

Readmore – Natspec’s research relating to if, when and how new provision should be established to ensure quality.