Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

The TechAbility stand at the Natspec Conference was busy for the whole two days, as staff from specialist colleges had their questions answered by Assistive Technologists Neil Beck and Fil McIntyre.  National experts Fil and Neil have just been appointed, funded by the Ian Karten Charitable Trust in partnership with Natspec’s TechAbility service. They talked to a range of delegates about how Assistive Technology could transform learning opportunities.  Many wanted to take up the opportunity of a visit to review their AT provision and discuss how TechAbility could support them and help their learners access the curriculum more easily.  Delegates were also keen to pick up some practical tips and to share how their learners were using technologies, from iPads to eye-gaze.

If you would like to discuss TechAbility or your Assistive Technology provision with Neil or Fil, please email them at techability@natspec.org.uk.

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec

Delegates challenged to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Nigel Evans, HMI and national lead inspector for learners with high needs, made his final public speech to Natspec conference delegates on Wednesday. Nigel leaves his post next week, after an illustrious career spanning several decades in a range of roles. He used his speech to reflect on how provision for people with learning difficulties has improved over the years from when he first worked on the Sunshine Ward “for disturbed and violent patients” at Farleigh Hospital.

Despite the progress, Nigel reminded delegates that we should continue on a “relentless drive for quality improvement”. Using the approach adopted by gold medal winning rowing teams, who asked the single question “will it make the boat go faster?”, Nigel challenged delegates to continuously ask of themselves “how will this benefit learners and lead to better outcomes?”

With over 16 years’ inspection experience under his belt (and more than 350 inspections undertaken), several significant national reports such as the 2016 review of high needs provision “Moving Forward”, and many years of supporting Natspec members at conferences and events up and down the country, conference delegates gave Nigel a rousing send-off. Natspec Policy Officer, Ruth Perry, presented him with a parting gift, thanking him for all his work: “Nigel has been a great friend to Natspec.  Not only is he a good talker but he’s also a good listener and a great advocate for students with high needs, and those who work with them.”  We will be doing our best to lure him out of retirement to support the work of Natspec in the future.

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference and helps celebrate Maths Week

The winners of the Natspec Maths Week were announced at the Natspec Conference this week, with Sir Richard Stilgoe present to congratulate the participants.  Sir Richard, lyricist, songwriter and musician, best known for his comedy and appearances on BBC programmes That’s Life and Nationwide, is now heavily involved with specialist education. He founded the Orpheus Centre, a specialist performing arts college in Surrey for learners with complex needs, and has a passionate belief that music provides an essential tool for communication, promotes independence skills and develops self esteem and confidence. Sir Richard entertained dinner guests with stories from Orpheus, including the tale of one young man for whom composing a rap had led to a renewed relationship with his father.

Following the speech, this year’s Maths Week shortlist and winners of Maths Week were announced.  Designed to inspire students to use maths creatively and promote their numeracy skills through an annual event, this year’s theme was maths in the workplace, and colleges across the country had used the hashtag #NatspecWorkitOut to share their activities on Twitter.  Shortlisted for the main prize, judged by National Numeracy, were two separate entries from students at WESC Foundation, a group of adult learners from Learn Devon, and students from the Seashell Trust (Royal College Manchester). Derwen College was highly commended as the organisation that had embraced the challenge most comprehensively, with the whole college involved in activities throughout the week.  The overall winners were the students from Royal College Manchester, for their high level of engagement in meaningful work experience and the vast array of maths skills on display as they completed their work tasks.

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Delegates at the Natspec conference in Birmingham on Wednesday heard about the issues encountered relating to SEND law from Ali Fiddy, the Chief Executive of the national charity IPSEA, which offers free and independent legally-based information, advice and support.

Ali spoke at length about common issues affecting many families and organisations, as well as giving delegates the latest statistics and updates from the SEND Tribunal.

One of the key messages was that “law trumps policy”, and that LAs are acting unlawfully if they introduce blanket policies or guidelines that apply a higher threshold, different test or standard than that set out in the Act.

She reminded the conference that the legal framework, covering not just the 2014 Children and Families Act but also other relevant law such as the Equalities Act 2010, the Mental Capacity Act 2005, case law and statutory guidance.  Issues that IPSEA have been working on include the problem of lack of specificity in EHC plans, unlawful transfers or ceasing of plans, and the very real problems of implementation – with 40% of Ofsted/CQC inspections of local areas resulting in the LA being required to produce a Written Statement of Action.

Meanwhile, appeals to the SEND Tribunals are increasing year on year, and in 2016-17, almost 90% of appeals were decided in favour of the parent or young person. “But what really concerns us is that number of cases that go to mediation and don’t reach the tribunal” said Ali, “these statistics don’t seem to be counted, and there’s no way of knowing whether those cases were settled in accordance with the young person’s legal rights”

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education

MP laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

Emma Lewell-Buck MP, the Shadow Minister for Children and Families, spoke at Natspec’s 2018 Conference promising delegates that Labour would create a National Education Service that provided for all children and young people, giving them the support they deserved: “When funding and support is denied, education is also denied”.  The focus of the speech was very much about inclusion, giving delegates the initial impression that Labour policy was to educate all learners in mainstream settings, whatever their level of need. Later in the speech, Emma Lewell-Buck clarified her position, saying “we want choice across specialist and mainstream: we want both on an equal footing”. Speaking passionately about the subject, she told the conference that it was her personal and political mission to work hard to correct the failings of the system, which had become a “bureaucratic nightmare” for parents and families, despite the best intentions of the legislation.

The Shadow Minister left the conference with a set of invitations from delegates and a promise to visit as many colleges as she could, in a drive to increase the Labour Party’s understanding about the sector and ensure a college contribution to Labour’s consultation on their new Education Policy.

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

“High Needs funding under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

In a keynote presentation at Natspec’s Annual Conference, Dame Christine Lenehan updated delegates following her review last year into residential special schools and colleges. The findings, and the implementation work that will now follow, cover a wide scope including the pressures on mainstream provision, school exclusions of children with SEN and disabilities, the concern about the results of LA SEND reviews, and the high needs funding system which Lenehan described as “at breaking point”.

During the presentation, Dame Christine pointed out that pressure on LAs had led to a range of issues which meant that the Children and Families Act has not delivered what it set out to do: “the pressure to deliver EHC plans to a fixed timescale has led to some very poor-quality plans”, she said. “Everyone knows the high needs funding system is under intolerable pressure. The current system is not working”.

She urged colleges to replicate the best provision, which is “outward looking, a part of their community, and work hard to maintain relationships with families and placing local authorities”.  She also praised specialist colleges, saying “college educational outcomes were clear and set high standards”, and told delegates how she wanted residential schools and colleges to be “the places of first choice and not of last resort”.

The Leadership Board will be set up shortly to help with the implementation of the Lenehan Review, and delegates were pleased to hear that Natspec would be invited to sit on the Board and help “set a specific college agenda” to ensure the best outcomes for current and future students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

 

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

The conference kicked off with a keynote speech from Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development and a faculty member of the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute. “We deliberately invited people from outside our sector to challenge our thinking and provide a different perspective”, said Clare Howard, Natspec Chief Executive.  “Cormac gave an excellent insight into how we can all achieve more if we start from the strengths that exist all around us, rather than rely on institutions or the system to solve issues or provide the answers.  His message was to “embrace the messy” and make contact with local connectors, resulting in more people and organisations realising how valuable our students are to employers or the community in general”

Delegates enjoyed Cormac’s description of traditional partnerships being “the suspension of mutual loathing in the pursuit of public money” and were urged instead to “start with the discoverables, not the deliverables”.

The session was followed by two leadership masterclasses, with delegates exploring questions such as how to work across different sectors, not just education, and how to build relationships with limited capacity. Delegates who attended Di Neale’s session “How to lead when you are not in charge”, were reminded that they would need to apply different leadership approaches for complex, uncertain or intransigent challenges, rather than technical solutions or traditional management approaches.

Read more from the conference:

A dynamic and collaborative sector

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts

A dynamic and collaborative sector

More than 140 delegates from the specialist Further Education sector came together in Birmingham this week for the Annual Natspec Conference.

The theme of the conference was “Leading Organisations”, challenging delegates to examine different aspects of leadership, whether that be their own personal style, the place of their organisation in the wider system, or methods of developing leaders, networks and positive collaboration from within organisations and communities.

Keynote sessions included contributions from Emma Lewell-Buck MP, the Shadow Minister for Children and Families, Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Disabled People, Dame Christine Lenehan, and Nigel Evans, Ofsted HMI lead for high needs in FE. Delegates also took part in two masterclass sessions, led by international facilitators Cormac Russell from Nurture Development and Di Neale from the Leadership Centre, where they discussed building relationships with a wide network, embracing complex issues and “starting with what’s strong, not what’s wrong”

Conference and Natspec Chair Ruth Thomas said “We are delighted that the conference was so well received by delegates this year. There is a great deal of pressure on high needs funding in further education, and the conference gives everyone a chance to share ideas for future working and also celebrate the success that our members have achieved, and how they have overcome some of the challenges they face”.

Read more from the conference:

Asset based development: “Every individual has a gift to give”

“High Needs funding is under intolerable pressure” Dame Christine Lenehan

Shadow Minister sets out Labour’s vision for education and laments the failure of the SEND reforms: “A bureaucratic nightmare”

“Law trumps policy” ISPEA CEO Ali Fiddy navigates SEND and the law

Sir Richard Stilgoe speaks at conference dinner and guests celebrate success of Maths Week

Ofsted’s Nigel Evans says farewell to Natspec, challenging delegates to ask “will it make the boat go faster?”

Natspec delegates speak to TechAbility experts