Natspec Highlights | April 2019

A monthly roundup of stories from the specialist sector

Natspec Highlights | April 2019

1st May 2019

It was a busy start to the month as we welcomed over 200 delegates to Natspec’s National Conference for two days of discussion about specialist provision in the further education sector, thinking specifically about having high aspirations for all students. Our colleges have also been busy finishing up Spring Term and thinking ahead to summer.

Nonetheless, they’ve still been up to plenty, with student progress, new projects and partnerships all featured! Read on for news of what they’ve been up to.

  1. Maths Week Winner Announced
  2. Ruskin Mill Trust organises Neurodiversity Conference
  3. Orpheus Centre student participates in professional readings
  4. QAC ArtsFest 2019
  5. Bridge College partnership with Sport England
  6. New College Worcester partners with LEGO in braille bricks project
  7. Landmarks College introduces Wayfinder Recruitment
  8. Learners at Horizons College impress Swindon Town FC
  9. Holiday fun with Short Breaks @ Derwen
  10. Upcoming Events

Maths Week Winner Announced

Chris assembles his kitchen splashbackThis year’s Maths Week competition was won by Chris Sterry from The Mount Camphill Community. Chris made a colourful tiled splashback and showcased the variety of maths skills developed through creative activity, showed an awareness and engagement with the task, and thoroughly enjoying himself!


Ruskin Mill Trust organises Neurodiversity Conference

Ruskin Mill Trust are continuing their partnership with Hay Festival in committing to helping neurodivergent individuals reach their potential and participate fully in their communities.

For the second year running, Ruskin Mill Trust will be present at the Hay Festival on 30 and 31 May hosting a panel discussing what it means to society to be genuinely accepting and inclusive.

This informative event will be followed up by a further two day ‘Living Conference on Neurodiversity’ to be held on Ruskin Mill Trust’s site in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire on the 19 and 20 July. Attendees will be able to discover and engage with new perspectives on autism through talks, panels, and performances as well as interact with our students and experience working with craft.


Orpheus Centre student participates in professional readings

Orpheus Centre Student Awa JagneAwa Jagne, a third year Orpheus Centre student attended an internship with Graeae Theatre company for 6 months. She was then asked to take part in a Professional reading at the Dorfman Suite in collaboration with the National Theatre of ”And Others” a play which brings to life the voices of women who fought for suffrage but whose stories have been lost to history. This was hugely successful and Awa was again offered another Professional reading of the same at the Rose Bruford Theatre in Kent which took place on 16 April.


QAC ArtsFest 2019

QAC staff and students use 3D pensStudents at Queen Alexandra College (QAC) saw out their spring term in style with their ArtsFest event. The event showcased everything creative that happens at College with over 20 staff-led workshops taking place across the week. Sessions included percussion making, iPad music, virtual reality experiences, Anime art, dance, 3D pens and puppet making.

QAC also welcomed local Creation Station leader Emma McCalla-John to run some rainmaker craft sessions with Preparation for Life (PFL) groups and Neil from Freshwater Theatre Group who offered an interactive Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare workshop.

Find out about everything else the students got up to!


Bridge College partnership with Sport England

Bridge College Student engages in running activityBridge College has received funding from Sports England to help promote disability sport at the college. Sport and community manager Julie and Sports coach Chloe are spearheading the project and discussed their ambitions for the future over on the Together Trust’s blog. Julie says “My goal has been getting as many students as active as possible. We’re currently doing this through our sports and motor activity training programme sessions. We’d like to broaden that out, initially for our students in college and then progressing to activities outside college hours. Then hopefully we’ll develop that again to work within the community.”


New College Worcester partners with LEGO in braille bricks project

New College Worcester Student uses LEGO braille bricksNew College Worcester has been heavily involved in testing the prototype LEGO Braille bricks and showing the potential of learning with them in the classroom, testing them out in Maths, English and Spanish. The Braille bricks are moulded with the number of studs used in the Braille alphabet, while remaining fully compatible with the LEGO System in Play. To ensure the tool is inclusive allowing sighted teachers, students and family members to interact on equal terms, each brick will also feature a printed letter or character. This ingenious combination brings a whole new and playful approach to encourage blind and vision impaired children to engage with learning Braille, enabling them to develop a breadth of skills needed to thrive and succeed in a fast-paced world.

Box of LEGO Braille BricksSusan Lock, Head of Mathematics at New College Worcester, said: “Braille gives vision impaired children and adults absolute independence. Without it, how will children learn grammar, or how to spell? The ability to read and understand Braille can be life changing for many of our students and can present very many opportunities, which is why we were so thrilled to be involved in the project.”

“I’m passionate about both the Braille Bricks and teaching at NCW because we have the opportunity to transform children’s lives. LEGO Braille Bricks is doing that because it is making subjects far more accessible than they ever were before.”


Landmarks College introduces Wayfinder Recruitment

Landmarks College has set up Wayfinder Recruitment, a new service dedicated to supporting people with learning difficulties and disabilities into employment. The team work closely with the college to assist people on the Employment Pathway develop the skills they need to secure work, as well as searching out employment and placement opportunities with a range of employers. They’re dedicated to providing successful and meaningful placements and ensuring learners get the qualifications and accredited experience needed for future work.


Learners at Horizons College impress Swindon Town FC

Horizons College students pictured standing with Swindon Town FC youth playersA group of learners at Horizons College have been undertaking a long-term fitness enrichment project, developing their understanding of health and fitness. The project has gone so well that learners began planning their own training sessions and delivering them to the rest of the group. Horizons College Governor and ex Swindon Town Football Club Chairman Cliff Puffet shared the project with Swindon Town FC, who were very impressed by the development and perseverance of the learners. In April, two players from Swindon Town’s youth team attended the college and supported the learners through one of their planned fitness circuits. This unique learning experience is something that the learners will never forget and all learners felt the support of the players.

This project has paved the way for future learners at Horizons College and the college is hopeful that the project will turn into an ongoing collaboration, allowing learners to develop not only their fitness abilities but also enhancing their entire personal learning experience.


Holiday fun with Short Breaks @ Derwen

Derwen College has had a busy Easter holiday period entertaining new guests as part of its new short breaks provision. While students at the college enjoyed their April Easter break, the college was delighted to welcome visitors to its new programme of short breaks that provide specialist holiday care and activities all year around. Guests take part in a range of activities and trips, as well as making use of the campus facilities. The holidays are also a great opportunity for young people to meet new people and explore local attractions. Holiday activities have included swimming, basketball, use of the gym and football, day trips, shopping, cooking, bowling and cinema.

Amy enjoys learning independence skills in the Short Breaks kitchen20-year-old Amy is one of those who’s been taking advantage of the new provision. She enjoys the over-night experience of being away from home and spending time with peers of her own age in a fun environment with plenty of activities organised on and off site. Amy has Down’s Syndrome, learning difficulties and speech and language needs. She needs support in some day-to-day care tasks and uses Makaton to support her communication. As a Makaton user, Amy benefits from working with staff who are trained in Makaton and can support her communication and understanding using signs and symbols. An active, sporty person, she relished joining in with activities including swimming in the on-site pool, cinema trips, bowling and a day out in scenic Llangollen. She has experienced shopping trips and been involved with household activities such as baking a chocolate cake.


Upcoming Events

The Natspec Games are fast approaching on 16 May in the North West and South West, followed by Midlands & Wales on 20 May, Yorkshire and Humber on 22 May and the South East on 20 June. It’s a great opportunity for students from our member colleges to access a wide range of inclusive sports – and maybe find something new to enjoy.

If you’re interested in how to make technology accessible to a wider range or learners – or simply wondering how to use it more effectively – our upcoming TechAbility webinars may be of interest to you.

Our Student Voice Parliament is also coming up on the 11 June and is a great chance for students from across the country to meet and gather and exchange ideas.