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Natspec Peer Exchange Week

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22 January 2024
25 January 2024
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Natspec Peer Exchange Week returns in January. Over the four days Natspec will be hosting twelve online peer exchange sessions on topical subjects of interest to specialist college staff including those in management, operational and delivery roles. Sessions include making the most of land-based learning for young people with SEND; transition from college – effective working with local authorities for learners with autism; learner voice; and partnering with Project Search.

Members often tell us that the most valuable aspect of belonging to Natspec is the opportunity to meet, network and learn from colleagues in other specialist colleges. Peer Exchange Week gives Natspec members time and space to share effective practice, learn from one another and tackle challenges together. We hope that Peer Exchange Week will help you build networks of like-minded colleagues with whom you continue to maintain contact. With your permission, we will be sharing the contact details of everyone attending each session so that you can continue conversations and explore further peer learning opportunities with one another.

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Full programme

Monday 22 January

10.00am–11.15am: Investing in your staff – innovative strategies for CPD

What strategies do you find effective for nurturing staff talent and enriching your CPD offer? Come and hear about the staff skills share model at HBVC and share your ideas and approaches including any recommendations about no cost or low cost CPD opportunities.

1.00pm–2.15pm: Maths and English – ensuring compliance with condition of funding and evidencing exemptions

How do you assess your students with regards to maths and English, and what evidence and records do you keep when you assess that qualifications are inappropriate for your students? How do you ensure that these students are exempted from qualifications to meet the ESFA condition of funding rules? Come and share your approaches to assessment and recording – a session for both education and data/MIS staff.

3.15pm–4.30pm: Networking for newer specialist colleges

This session provides an opportunity for colleges who have been set up within the last five years. You may have recently gone through the ESFA due diligence process, or you may be planning to do this to become a newly funded ESFA college. The session will explore common questions including funding, contractual issues, back-office functions, developing the curriculum, staffing, and partnerships.

Tuesday 23 January

10.00am–11.15am: College transitions for autistic learners – effective working with Local Authorities 

What are the key issues that colleges face when working with Local Authorities and post-college placements in order to plan effective transitions young people, particularly those with autism? Come and share your experiences with others, compare practice, look at what works best and how to tackle challenges.

1.00pm–2.15pm: Relationship and sex education

What does your RSE curriculum cover? Which approaches and resources are effective? Are there any areas that you are looking to develop? In this session Natspec colleges will share their practice, ideas, challenges and successes when delivering RSE. Come and join the discussion.

3.15pm–4.30pm: Project Search

A chance for colleges considering partnering with Project Search to hear from those who have already gone down that route. What are the advantages? What are the drawbacks? Is it a supported internship model that works for all?

Wednesday 24 January

10.00am–11.15am: Creating therapeutic environments for learners with SEND

What does being trauma-informed mean and what practical steps can colleges take to best support learner and staff wellbeing and mental health? In this session, two Natspec members tell us about their journeys to creating therapeutic learning environments.

1.00pm–2.15pm: Making the most of land-based learning for young people with SEND

An exchange of practice between Natspec members with access to farms, greenhouses, forests etc. and SEND leaders from members of Landex, the membership body for land-based colleges. Come and pick each other’s brains and share what you are up to.

3.15pm–4.30pm: Supporting learners with sensory impairments

An opportunity for staff supporting learners with sensory impairments to meet others in a similar role to share ideas and discuss provision with a view to setting up a supportive network.

Thursday 25 January

10.00am–11.15am: The authentic learner voice 

In the SEND world, it is common to use the first person when writing documents about learners e.g. ‘All About me’ pages or when setting targets and goals. In this session, members of Natspec’s Learner Voice Network consider the importance of safeguards to ensure that when we assume the first person, we do so authentically.

1.00pm–2.15pm: Assistive Technology – improving provision

The TechAbility Champions will take you through the changes they have made to improve their provision through Assistive Technology. Literacy support, communication, independence, transition are all topics that can be covered by the Champions.

3.15pm–4.30pm: Using challenges and events to support staff and student mental health and wellbeing

Come to this session to share ideas for using different activities, challenges and team events to support the mental health and wellbeing of both staff and students. Colleges will share how they have used activities such as the BRIT challenge and Parkrun and the impact this has had on the wellbeing of the college community. Hear about the AoC Inclusion Hub and student leadership programme.

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