Inclusive Skills competition finals 2017

Students with learning difficulties and disabilities showed off their employability skills at the Inclusive Skills competition finals.

Thirty-nine students from 20 colleges took part in the competition staged at the NEC in Birmingham as part of The Skills Show.

The categories included ICT, woodworking, hairdressing, fitness training, catering and health and life sciences.

Inclusive Skills is organised by Natspec, the membership association for organisations which offer specialist post-16 education and training for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

“We know that the employment rate for people with learning disabilities is less than six per cent. At Natspec we are focussing on Inclusive Skills because it is one way of showcasing all the skills and employability that these young people have,” said Clare Howard, Chief Executive of Natspec.

Hosted at the Skills Show for the first time in 2015, Inclusive Skills Competitions stretch and challenge young people, improve their self- esteem and confidence, help showcase their work skills, and show employers how they can perform under pressure to industry-standard competition criteria.

Callum Klapatyi, from Hereward College in Coventry, won gold in the ICT category. He admitted that the competition was nerve-wracking but worth it.

“It’s made me feel very proud to be here and to be representing my college, but I have also been very nervous because I am representing my college,” he said.

Haydn Thompson, a Pathway leader  from Hereward College said: “When you say competition people think win or lose whereas the Inclusive Skills competition is all about taking part. It’s giving them the experience of competition but with the safety and reassurance that if they don’t place first it is still a massive achievement.”

Among the guests at the event was Benoit Roger, International & Event Manager, Abilympics France.

“It’s fantastic that Natspec is showcasing professional skills,” he said. “It is the best approach for helping young people get into normal work.”

The full list of competition results can be found here.

Students speak out

Students with disabilities and learning difficulties are joining forces to raise concern about accessibility.

Student Union representatives from specialist colleges met at Hereward College in Coventry for the second Student Voice Parliament.

It is organised by Natspec, the membership association for organisations which offer specialist provision for students with learning difficulties and disabilities, in partnership with the National Union of Students.

At the event much of the debate centred around accessibility and transport.

Harvey Duncan and Callum Klaptyi, students at Hereward College, have launched a campaign about people parking on pavements in Coventry.

“We’re trying to raise awareness for people to think before they actually park on a pavement because it creates a danger for people who use wheelchairs and people cannot see,” said Callum.

Representatives also talked about concerns of cabs using appropriate safety belts on wheelchairs, and accessibility on public transport.

“If people park on the pavements it affects people’s independence and this results in them needing additional support,” said Alisha Williams, Student Union president at National Star College in Cheltenham.

Students from Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham gave a presentation on the LGBT society that they set up.

“The voice of students with disabilities and learning difficulties is too often forgot about. I’m here to speak to them directly and make sure we get their voices heard,” said Emily Chapman, NUS Vice President (Further Education).

The Student Voice Parliament meet once a term.

Competing with the best

Forty-one young people with learning difficulties and disabilities will compete for medals in the final of the Inclusive Skills Competitions on November 18.

Skills competitions are well established in mainstream Further Education and a few years ago Natspec, Derwen College and (what was then) North Warwickshire and Hinkley College, recognised there was no opportunity for people with learning difficulties and disabilities to take part and enjoy.

Working together, a series of competitions was established: the Inclusive Skills Competitions. The competitions build links between colleges and local and national businesses to showcase the skills of young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.

These days the competitions are open to people of all ages who are working up to level 1 and have recently been in education. WorldSkills UK are now part funding the competitions, and for the past two years Inclusive Skills have featured at the Skills Show.

Natspec is leading the initiative and, together with other further education colleagues and WorldSkills UK, the aim is to have a fully branded suite of WorldSkills UK Inclusive Skills competitions in 2018.

“Working in partnership with Natspec is part of our commitment to ensure that as many learners as possible have access to competition activity,” says Dr Neil Bentley, from WorldSkills UK.

The Skills Show is a free event  so why not join us as we support our aspirational competitors and showcase the talent that employers are all too often missing out on.

Apply now for new TechAbility role

Job Opportunity! Join Natspec as an Assistive Technologist. Working in partnership with the Ian Karten Charitable Trust, we are delighted to offer this exciting role, helping improve the uptake and impact of technologies and improving life outcomes for people across a wide range of disabilities.

We are seeking an experienced Assistive Technologist to provide training, advice, guidance and support to the Karten Centres and to work within our TechAbility service sharing good practice and delivering training, briefings and events to support learners with SEND across the FE sector.  Using your collaborative skills, you will foster knowledge transfer and communicate best practice across supported organisations.

The job specification, further details and application information are available here

For an informal discussion, contact Clare Howard

The stage is her dream

Emily, who has completed her Creative studies course at Derwen College, a place at the Chicken Shed in London, a performing arts theatre company.

During her time at Derwen College she has completed her BTEC Certificate in Vocational Studies, Performing Arts Focus, contributed to the production of many shows, taking a supporting and leading role, and participated in Derwen On Tour at many events, including Britain’s Got Talent auditions.

“Emily has shown determination, perseverance and consistency in both internal and external work placements, most recently attending an external work placement at CHALK in Oswestry where her work has been around upcycling furniture in the shop,” said Jennifer Fawcett-Jones, Creative and Performing Arts Programme co-ordinator.

Emily will continue to build upon her BTEC certificate to work towards attaining her diploma in Performing Arts. Emily is keen to study in the future for a foundation degree at a university in Performing Arts with the ultimate goal to work in theatre and or television as an actress.

Next stop – university

Creative Media student, Rebekah is graduating from Exeter Deaf Academy with a long list of achievements to her name.

Rebekah, who is Chair of the College Student Council has been studying for her Level 3 BTEC in Creative Media at Exeter College where she won the ‘Best Attendance’ award and shortlisted for ‘Best Production’ at her Final Major Project presentation.
In May, Rebekah attended TEDx at Exeter University where a variety of speakers gave inspiring presentations about the theme of ‘Hope’. Rebekah was selected by the production crew to be interviewed on camera at and she signed passionately about how the speakers at TEDx Exeter had inspired her as a young person who is Deaf.
Rebekah has also been invited to do a TEDEx talk with Jenny Sealey MBE next year at TEDEx Exeter.

Her talent in creative media was spotted by film company Sharp Focus Productions when she was invited to join them on set filming for an education film that will be viewed by thousands of students in Spain learning about languages used in Britain.

Aside from her studies, Rebekah is an excellent advocate for Deaf awareness. During 2017 Deaf Awareness Week she visited local care home to help teach elderly residents basic BSL and fingerspelling. She also led Deaf Awareness workshops for a local sixth form girl’s school as part of Exeter Deaf Academy’s outreach service.
Rebekah has also been making an impact internationally, by soaking up the arts scene on a field trip to New York last year, where she researched filming during a visit to the Museum of Moving Images (MOBI).

Rebekah says: “I would like to pursue a career in film, such as becoming an editor or possibly a Deaf director. My family are really happy that I’m involved in filming and that I’m making the most of these good opportunities.”
Rebekah now plans to take a gap year, after which she will apply to study at University.

A smooth transition

Nathan started his final year in LEAP College in September 2016. Nathan indicated through tutorial time that he felt ‘sad’ about moving on from LEAP and confused as to his future options.

After much discussion with parents and Nathan he decided he would like to visit Green Slate Farm, My Life Centre and The Domino Partnership.
Although all these potential future placements had their own special merits, Nathan identified The Domino Partnership as a place he would like to go to as this allowed him the opportunity to follow up his interest in role play and drama.
Over the course of the year Nathan has been involved in the whole class transition visits and through these he has spent time with the Rangers Natural Alternatives Programme in Sefton.
Nathan stated he would like to work with the Rangers when he left LEAP. The outcome agreed was that he would commence a one day per week work placement with the Rangers in Sefton, initially facilitated by LEAP staff, until Nathan was confident enough to undertake the full day with no support.
Nathan commenced his independent transition work placement and thanks to the close working partnership of Rangers, parents and LEAP staff Nathan has settled into his future work placement with ease. Along with his best friend Thomas, Nathan is now a happy and confident young man. He has displayed enormous levels of resilience and flexibility. Essentially his voice was valued and he was supported to communicate his wants and needs resulting in a successful transition and a fabulous future work opportunity.
Nathan’s parents said: “Nathan’s transition from LEAP College (Wargrave House School) to Ainsdale Rangers has been successful thus far. He has been a student at Wargrave House School for 15 years and this has got to be the most difficult change in his life so far.
“The school and college have been there for Nathan implementing his personalised transition plan and have worked alongside the Rangers during his last year in college. The Rangers were able to identify Nathan’s skill and this has helped with his confidence and hopefully his self – awareness will continue to grow and enable him to work towards achieving his future goals and aspirations. This process has been vital to Nathan’s transition and without this support it would have been very challenging.”

Not one job – but three!

Robert, who has complex learning disabilities along with severe communication difficulties has undertaken several regular and varied work experience placements over his three years at the Royal College Manchester.

In March 2017, Laltex, who are long standing supporters of the Seashell Trust, identified a part-time paid employment opportunity for a student currently undertaking the Supported Internship programme. The role involves working with a small team in their unpacking department.

Taking into account the skills and aptitudes required for the role and the fact Robert had excelled at the task during work experience at the company, he was offered the position.

Robert, being on the Autism spectrum, thrives on basic repetitive tasks, such as removing items from their packaging and stacking them ready for printing. The Managing Director is exceptionally pleased with Robert’s contribution to the department and is delighted to welcome him into the “Laltex Family”.

Not only has Robert been successful in attaining paid work, but he has also received offers to continue his voluntary placements at the National Trust and Grow gardening projects, as they consider that he does such a good job and his input is valued by both of these charitable organisations.

Supported Internship students leaving the Royal College Manchester are considered to have done well to have attained one job or work placement for one or two hours per week, but to have been offered three by merit alone is exceptional.