This year, at our National Conference, we were finally able to celebrate this year’s Natspec Award winners in person! As we were still wanting to keep the event accessible to those who couldn’t be with us at the venue, there were also staff and students celebrating virtually with us from around the country, cheering everyone on. The ceremony was excellently hosted by Nigel Evans, chair of the judging panel, and many of our other judges also attended virtually to announce their category winners.
The winners were presented with certificates and some amazing trophies designed and created by learners from Petty Pool Vocational College.
The Natspec Awards 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. Get thinking about your entries for 2023.
Congratulations to all our winners!
The Natspec Awards are sponsored by PBS Cloud.
Henshaws Specialist College: Taking Next Steps into the community
Developments of the Next Steps Programme delivered by Henshaws Specialist College have enabled a growing number of students to successfully access community activities and transition from education to their future provision.
National Star College: National Star Curriculum Pathways
We introduced three outcome-focused curriculum pathways, linking implementation of the curriculum to impact on learners’ achievements. Specialised, innovative, engaging, personalised programmes were designed for learners to acquire skills for adult life.
Sense College Loughborough: The Green Shop at Sense College Loughborough
The introduction of The Green Shop provides opportunity for Vocational students to develop employability skills while encouraging the college to be more sustainable.
Winner: Sense College Loughborough
Our judge, Nigel Evans, said:
“The Green Shop project from Sense College underlines the importance of practical, realistic working environments to develop good vocational skills that link with a wide range of curriculum areas. The project has a very strong focus on sustainability and on developing an awareness of the environmental impact of products sold and this understanding has a tangible impact on the lives of students and the college. The highly individual to planning learning activities ensures students are highly-motivated and are able to have very good involvement in influencing the development of the business. The personalisation of the curriculum also enables individuals to experience the different roles and functions associated with the business before specialising in a particular area. The promotion of a sustainable and environmentally aware lifestyle is routinely reinforced through practical activities. The strong focus on quality control and achieving high standards prepares students well for employment and adult life. The project clearly demonstrates the value of involving all of the college to maximise the environmental impact of the college and describes how individuals can make a difference.”
Equality, diversity & inclusion
Beaumont College: Art Enterprise Projects
Art Enterprise projects where students engage in making high quality artwork that results in saleable products, stretch and challenge for all students, links with local, national and international communities and a range of professionals.
Sheiling College: Making Waves; Sheiling College’s Innovative Inclusion in Higher Education Project
This project investigates ways in which students with profound learning differences, can engage and interact with their neurotypical peers in higher education for the mutual benefit of all parties.
Winner: Sheiling College
Our judge, Jeff Greenidge, said:
“This practice provides shared learning experiences between students from Sheiling College who have learning differences with their neurotypical higher education peers. At first it is a seemingly simple concept; however there are several layers to this project that will see Diversity celebrated as well as inclusion supported in both the neurodiverse and neurotypical groups. The awareness raising and engagement strategy was broad as well as deep; working with City University of New York, a culturally diverse institution, has given Sheiling students and staff an introduction to a wide range of languages, traditions and cultures. Songs have been shared in Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish. By disseminating the outcomes and outputs they havewidened the partnership. establishing links with other institutions and have shared the learning in the UK and the US. The project is changing the narrative around those who have significant learning disabilities and gives an insight into a way to achieve social cohesion through education by providing a space in students with learning differences can work alongside neurotypical peers.”
Ambitious College: Collaborative working at the heart of what we do
Our Learner and Family Support Team was created to support young people and their families. It now works collaboratively with our transdisciplinary team to ensure the best possible outcomes for our learners.
Treloar College: Multi Disciplinary Team working and the role of the Progress and Transition Coordinator
Every student at Treloar’s has an allocated and named Multi-Disciplinary Team who work effectively together to ensure our students are successful in achieving their intended outcomes and in their lives after Treloar’s.
Winner: Treloar College
Our judge, Lorraine Mulroney, said:
“Treloar College have acknowledged their continuous learning from staff and students when working with a wide multi-disciplinary team (MDT) by recognising the need for the role and function of the Progress and Transition Co-ordinator this had led to more support and coordination for all the members of the MDT. This role also leads on support for the student transitioning both into and out of Treloar’s. This award recognises the importance and recognition of teamwork in inter-disciplinary working when acting in the best interests of students and families.”
Heart of Birmingham Vocational College: HBVC’s Sport and Education Programme
A sports and education programme at Redditch United to enhance the learning of the Heart of Birmingham Vocational College’s SEND learners.
Linkage College: Community involvement with networking opportunities
Linkage’s partnership working consists of direct links to three separate parties, Tesco, Fairshare and the Homeless Community. Work experience at Linkage has evolved and advanced, presenting outstanding opportunities for learners.
Sense College Loughborough: Sense College Loughborough’s Ongoing Partnership with NHS LPT
An initial research project into autism and sight loss has developed into a mutually beneficial partnership between SCL and NHS professionals.
Treloar College: Treloar College and HSDC Alton Partnership
Partnership between HSDC Alton and Treloar College to provide a wider variety of accredited courses whilst supporting the therapeutic, medical and residential provision at Treloar’s
Winner: Sense College Loughborough
Our judge, Yolande Burgess, said:
“This long-standing, evolving and innovative partnership provides opportunities not only for the college and its students but SEND education and health care. This partnership seeks opportunities for learning – for students and organisationally – in an organic way that demonstrates trust and understanding.”
Pathways into employment
Derwen College: Working towards employment: Supporting students towards their employment aspirations
Derwen College provides meaningful work experience to students and interns in its customer-facing ‘Marketplace’ – including a new charity shop – before progressing to external placements with local and national employers.
Hive College: Competency-Led Approach to Measuring Progress for Work Placements
The Hive have created an innovative competency-lead approach for work placements and Supported Internships to ensure students develop the necessary skills to move into employment.
Landmarks Specialist College: The Archer and Wayfinder
Creating real-life opportunities for learners to feel inspired, develop confidence and skills, and to achieve their employment aspirations in hospitality and catering.
Winner: Derwen College
Our judge, Jane Hatton, said:
“This model works well for the students, the employers and the local community. Most colleges struggle to engage with employers, and despite their rural location, Derwen has developed effective working relationships with a number of good employers across a range of sectors, offering students a real choice in their career aspirations. The outcomes, in terms of students gaining paid work, voluntary work or further training opportunities, are very impressive.”
Ruskin Mill College: The Voice of the students, by the students, for the students
Innovative work of the Ruskin Mill Student Council in ensuring the student voice is heard and shared, improving relationships, awareness and bringing change.
The Deaf Academy: From hands to voice
Deaf students having their opinions heard to empower the Deaf community and making a positive impact on change.
Winner: Ruskin Mill College
Our judge, Alex Johnson, said:
“The student voice was present. We need to harness that voice now. They are our future so we need to make sure that voice never dies out.”
Wellbeing and mental health
Orchard Hill College: Trauma informed provision
Over the last 12 months, OHC has become a Trauma informed provision. This has become an overarching umbrella for us to implement our mental health and well-being strategy, which is inclusive or a range or procedures and practices to best support students with complex needs.
The Orpheus Centre: Orpheus Continuous Cycle of Wellbeing
A recently implemented and innovative project to respond to the wellbeing and mental health needs of Orpheus learners following the pandemic
Portland College: Be Healthy, Active and Courageous (BHAC)
This innovative project puts Health and Well-being at the forefront of our curriculum. We build positive actions into all programmes to support and enhance individual well-being both mentally and physically.
Winner: The Orpheus Centre
Our judge, Liz Maudslay, said:
“Orpheus have implemented an excellent and innovative Continuous Cycle of Wellbeing programme which the college started to address the mental health needs of students post lockdown. Students have been closely involved in both the programme design and also in nominating others for programme awards. Student and parent feedback has been extremely positive. The programme was particularly impressive in the way that it was able to include very different individualised approaches for a very wide range of students which greatly enhanced their physical and mental wellbeing.”
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