Welcome to February’s edition of the Natspec Highlights. This month highlights the true variety of activities taking place in specialist FE colleges, including:
- exciting theatre and music workshop opportunities
- colleges helping secure dream work experience opportunities for their students
- sporting team successes
- college staff and students helping out in their local communities.
At Natspec, we’ve been busy running some of our popular Transform and TechAbility training courses, whilst preparing for the return of our in-person conference in June! It might seem a long way away now, but we’re sure it’ll creep up on us. The deadline for applications for the Natspec Awards is also coming up on 30 March, and we’re looking forward to reading about all the innovative practice taking place in our colleges!
- Perfect placement for Derwen Horticulture intern
- The National Youth Theatre bringing drama to life at Bridge College
- HBVC’s Sport & Education programme grows to new heights
- Henshaws college students enjoy getting out and about in the community
- Communication Specialist College Doncaster delivers Deaf awareness for scouts
- Linkage students become cricket champions
- Digital Poverty Grant secured by Homefield College
- Lifeworks conducting the West End Phantom of the Opera orchestra
- Queen Alexandra College student selected for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games role
- Treloar’s students take to the sky
- Portland College opens exciting new specialist education programmes in the heart of Nottingham
- Chadsgrove Specialist College secures a dream day for one of their students
- Tree Planting at Langdon College
- Ellie’s skills competition entry
Perfect placement for Derwen Horticulture intern
Derwen College supported intern Oliver Burrows is thrilled to have been offered a weekly work placement in a garden centre; helping him progress to his dream job.
Oliver’s aspiration is to work in a garden centre, so the 20-year-old from Shrewsbury, was over the moon to be offered regular placements by nationwide garden centre Dobbies.
Oliver, who has autism spectrum condition and cerebral palsy, started a supported internship at Derwen College in September 2022. He was a Horticulture student at Gobowen-based specialist college Derwen College for three years, and has now progressed to a supported internship to develop his work and independence skills.
Oliver’s work placements include one day a week at Horatio’s Garden Midland Centre for Spinal Injury (MCSI) at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH). He also works in ground maintenance at Oswestry Cemetery.
Oliver was eager to add a work placement which directly supported his goal of working in a garden centre.
Oliver and the College worked together to score Shropshire’s horticulture businesses. He travelled the county with his CV, and took part in a press and social media campaign to find him a work placement in Horticulture.
Dobbies Garden Centre spotted the story online, and contacted the college to offer Oliver a placement at their Shrewsbury branch.
Oliver said: “I would like to work in a garden centre and do customer service. I’m sociable, helpful and like to do a bit of everything. I like working with plants and people, and really want a job in a garden centre in the future. I am very excited to start work at Dobbies.
“I am enjoying my supported internship, which is helping me to get more independent and to get a job at the end of it.”
Work experience co-ordinator Abi Baker said:
“Our external work placement programme offers life changing opportunities for our interns and students to undertake meaningful, real work experience which is relevant to their learning and future career hopes.
“We have been desperately trying to find Oliver a weekly work placement in a garden centre. He was all set to spend a week visiting Shropshire garden centre to hand out his CV and introduce himself. We are so excited that the power of the internet has created this amazing opportunity for him. Thank you, Dobbies!”
The National Youth Theatre bringing drama to life at Bridge College
Inclusion Facilitators, Ada and Jayran from the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain have been leading drama sessions in Bridge College for the last 4 months. The National Youth Theatre said, “Inclusive Practice is essential to the work that we do, and we want to make sure that NYT is always a welcoming and accessible place for disabled and neurodiverse young people.”
Inclusion facilitators are working in schools and colleges, as part of a nationwide initiative, to bring a love of drama to life for students and to learn how to make the work they produce accessible to all. As part of this experience, Ada and Jayran are sharing their extensive knowledge with college tutors and demonstrating how drama can be used as a fundamental tool for social and developmental skills.
Ada and Jayran have been introducing drama and the arts to the learners here at Bridge College while being able to reflect and analyse the theatre industry from the learner’s point of view. This will then help them going forward, to make their practice an accessible experience.
As part of the project, the facilitators have been working with the PMLD (Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities) learners. They’ve been developing Shakespeare into a sensory story. This is making Shakespeare accessible for an audience who may not have been able to access it before. In other sessions, Ada and Jayran are bringing drama to life for students who may not have experienced anything like this previously.
Ada, “It’s great when Bridge College staff feedback to us that students have learnt a new skill, or they’ve seen someone achieve something they haven’t before.”
During this National Youth Theatre initiative, all the practitioners taking part are sharing the knowledge gained with their peers. The goal is that more people will be able to enjoy theatre throughout the country regardless of their disability.
Jayran, who also works as a Creative Practitioner and Young Company Leader for The Dukes Theatre (Lancaster) says: “The creative arts and drama is a powerful mechanism that can and should reach every person and it’s wonderful to witness the positive impact it has had on students as they come out of their shells and impress us every week in our sessions.”
Ada, who is also working with DadaFest and Extant says: “Being visually impaired myself has led me to want to produce work that’s grounded with inclusive techniques and not limited by them.”
Over the next few weeks, students will be working towards a piece of work that will be filmed. We can’t wait to see it!
Tutor Helen H says: “Working with Jayran and Ada has really enabled me to develop my understanding of how drama, and in particular musical and theatrical conversations, can take place through movement. I have really enjoyed collaborating with them and watching the students’ interaction and delight during the sessions.”
HBVC’s Sport & Education programme grows to new heights
HBVC in partnership with Redditch United launched a Sport & Education programme in September 2021. The sports programme allows learners to gain BTEC qualifications in sport whilst also providing work placements and experiences within the sporting sector.
David Healy, Sports Tutor, had this to say: “The partnership is one of very few of its kind, not just in Redditch and Birmingham, but the Midlands as a whole. All lessons are onsite at our new education hub along with sports sessions taking place on the state-of-the-art 3G pitch and green space behind the football stadium. It is important for us that the Sport and Education programme is Inclusive and adaptable for any level of learner or any specific needs.”
Kathryn Pagan, learning coach, added that: “The sport and education programme is great for our learners because it holds no limits to what they can achieve. The sport element of the programme is not restricted to our learners just playing different sports. They also learn a variety of independent living skills which include a work placement day each week where learners are responsible for a job in the football club and surrounding area.”
Two of our students at HBVC have successfully gained employment at Redditch United, building on their skills and experiences from their work placement days. Usman as Kit Assistant and Kaine as Bar Assistant. Usman said, “I was happy when I heard that I was going to get a paid job not just for the money but also it’s a job that I really enjoy. The best parts of the job are the cleaning duties and I feel proud when I hang the kit up in numerical order and socialise with the mainstream guys.”
HBVC played their second 11-a-side football match against Dudley College at the end of January. Nick Taylor (learning coach / Team Manager) is really pleased with the progress of the team that was formed in 2018 and had only previously competed in 7 vs 7 indoor matches. “To host matches at Redditch United Football Club provides an experience that SEND learners will not forget. The post-match experience was as great as the game itself with the HBVC team inviting their opponents into the Function Room for refreshments and a superb buffet laid out by HBVC football team committee members. With two wins out of two matches our next fixtures are in March against Dudley College and Wolverhampton College.”
Henshaws college students enjoy getting out and about in the community
Henshaws College students are absolutely loving getting out and about in the local community again.
Before Covid-19 there were weekly trips out to Morrisons as part of an independence timetable of ‘Shop, Cook, Clean’. Recently the sensory students made the most of Henshaws resuming its minibus runs. The students went to Morrisons cafe, and the staff reported they were absolutely brilliant.
A huge thanks also to Harrogate Fire and Rescue for hosting Henshaw’s staff and students on a recent visit. They spoke to all the students and showed them all their equipment, a really fun and interactive morning for all.
Henshaws College students have also been back at work placements. Student Alex has been loving his work experience at the Hilton Hotel. He has been working in the kitchen preparing food for the various services during the day. The head chef has commented on how well Alex works and how great it is to have him part of the team at the Hilton – super feedback.
Communication Specialist College Doncaster delivers Deaf awareness for scouts
Scouts in North Lincolnshire have been taught the basics of British Sign Language (BSL) and given a valuable insight into life as a Deaf person.
Volunteers from Communication Specialist College Doncaster were welcomed by the 1st Belton and Epworth Scout Group for an evening of Deaf awareness training.
Stacey Betts, assistant principal at Communication Specialist College Doncaster, and Megan, a member of Doncaster Deaf Trust’s ‘Deaf Social Club’, taught the scouts about what it means to be Deaf.
Megan shared with them her cochlear implant and explained how it felt to be Deaf. The scouts learnt basic BSL greetings, as well as how to sign family members, the alphabet and numbers. The training finished with a fun game of BSL bingo.
Stacey said: “We want to say thank you to the Scout Group and Scout Section leader John Anderton for inviting us to provide some Deaf awareness training.
“The Scouts were fully engaged throughout, asked lots of questions and enjoyed the chocolate easter eggs won in BSL bingo!
“The Scout groups have generously donated some money to Communication Specialist College for our contribution to their language project.
“Deaf awareness is so important and it means more people in the community will be able to relate to, and communicate with, our students. Taking the time to learn the basics of BSL, for example, can make a big difference to the lives of Deaf people you interact with.”
John Anderton, Scout Section Leader said: “The Scouts were working towards their ‘Communication Badge’ which sees them taking part in activities on various types, such as Morse Code, Radio, Digital and Foreign Languages.”
“Having Stacey and Megan leading the evening on the Sign Language part of this badge, made it so much more impactful and it saw great engagement from all the Scouts.”
“BSL is becoming increasingly important, and a lifelong skill that will prove helpful throughout anyones life. So it was great to see the Scouts learn the basics from Stacey and Megan, and even continuing to use after the meeting had finished, with some parents telling me they went home and showed them too.”
“Overall, I am extremely grateful for the time Stacey and Megan gave, and I am already thinking of working with them again in the future.”
Linkage students become cricket champions
Sport students from Linkage College East Riding Campus represented their college on Wednesday 16 February 2022 in Bridlington for the East Yorkshire Table Cricket qualifier. The Linkage team, with a focus on fun and enjoyment, were ultimately crowned Champions after six thrilling matches where all players showcased their excellent teamwork and communication skills, of which they have been developing in their sport sessions at college.
The team will now compete in the next round at Headingley Cricket Ground. It was a fantastic day and their coach Sophie Bartup would like to say this: “Thank you to The Yorkshire Cricket Board and 2020 Community Sport for visiting our college to deliver an exceptional training session ahead of the qualifier. The event we attended was funded by The Lord Taverners, The UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sport charity, and we would like to say a huge thank you for providing a once in a lifetime experience for our students.”
Student Jason Barnes said: “We had a really bad start as in game 1 we lost but after that something amazing happened. After losing our first game we won our 5 remaining games on the leader board. Winning the tournament means we will be representing the East Riding campus and going to a table cricket tournament at Headingley cricket ground. I am excited to go because Freddie Flintoff used to play there.”
Student Edward Howell said: “We were all in a positive team mood and felt like we were going to win! Leading up to the game I felt a bit nervous. Just before the game we discussed our tactics agreeing to field first. This did not go to plan and I felt a little bit let down but we kept our spirits high. We were able to come back and win the rest of the games with some wins being easier than others! We were really happy and excited that we had won!”
Digital Poverty Grant secured by Homefield College
The Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) has awarded £300,000 in grant funding to seven local projects addressing digital poverty.
The LLEP grant funding supports a range of innovative projects across the city and county, including recycling devices, laptop lending, skills support and digital buddies who can provide one-to-one help.
Homefield College are delighted to announce they’ve been awarded a digital poverty grant to establish a Student Assisted Technology Coaching at their enterprise Breward’s Coffee Shop in Mountsorrel.
Homefield students will provide the elderly, jobseekers and disadvantaged people within the Mountsorrel area access to the internet, devices and technological support on a weekly basis. The Breward’s Hub will help break down technological barriers in the local community, and students acting as technology coaches will develop their social, communication and employability skills in the process.
This is an exciting opportunity for Homefield students to make a difference to the local community, and we will keep you updated as the project progresses.
Lifeworks conducting the West End Phantom of the Opera orchestra
Lifeworks’ Youth Group had an amazing time at the start of their half-term activities in March with Moor to Sea Music at the Rushbrook Centre in Totnes. One of the highlights of the day was that Ori, a very talented student from Lifeworks, had the opportunity to conduct the West End’s Phantom of the Opera orchestra, just before the matinee started.
Ori held centre stage as she elegantly conducted the Phantom of the Opera orchestra via Zoom, with a beautifully timed display of the Hannibal Ballet sequence.
Lifeworks would like to thank all those that made this moment a reality, with a special thanks to Simon Lee, Graham, Malcom and the rest of the Phantom of the Opera Orchestra, who took time out of their busy schedule to make it such a special day!
Constructor music project
Lifeworks music “Constructor” project is their new music venture Led by Moor to Sea Music Project and is an amazing opportunity for young people with learning disabilities to work with musicians from all over the UK. There, young people with learning difficulties will learn about what an orchestra is and then go about making their own.
The project also challenges musicians to think about music in new ways and co-create new work and explore composition, orchestral arrangement and conducting.
Queen Alexandra College student selected for Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games role
Queen Alexandra College (QAC) student, Charlie, has been selected as a Games Ambassador Team Member at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games taking place this summer.
As a Games Ambassador, Charlie will be an ambassador for the local community. His pride and passion for the region will help enrich the experiences of residents and visitors – helping people find their way around whilst sharing key information.
The third year BTEC Performing Arts student completed the interview process to volunteer at the Games in September last year. Candidates have been selected that can provide excellent customer service and love to offer a helping hand.
Charlie, who joined the College as a residential student in 2019 said: “I’m delighted to have been selected as a Games Ambassador. I am so proud of myself and really excited to be part of this iconic sporting event!”
Birmingham will be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be held in various venues across Birmingham and the West Midlands from 28 July until 8 August 2022. The Games will be one of the biggest sporting and cultural events that the city and the region has ever seen.
Treloar’s students take to the sky
What better way to start the day than soaring off the runway of your choice? That was the treat in store for students at Treloar College as Aerobility visited the campus.
Aerobility are the leading charity in disabled aviation in the UK. They joined Treloar’s for two days of simulator flights, offering one on one coaching to our students as they took to the skies.
Using the flight simulator meant that all our students, regardless of their age or medical condition could enjoy the exhilarating feeling of flying a plane.
Each student had the chance to take off, fly through the skies and then take on a tricky landing, all whilst the Aerobility team gave them expert advice on technique and tailored the experience to each person’s needs.
Treloar’s finds it fantastic to work with partners like Aerobility as they enrich the curriculum and strive together towards the goal of removing barriers for young disabled people.
Next half-term some of Treloar’s students are heading over to the Aerobility HQ where they will take on a live flight, heading up in real aircraft – can’t wait to hear more about that!
Portland College opens exciting new specialist education programmes in the heart of Nottingham
Portland College is expanding into Nottingham this September.
Portland College is offering a fabulous opportunity for learners to develop their employability skills in two wonderful settings. The stunning Wollaton Park programme is perfect for hands-on people who want to work in horticulture, grounds maintenance and trades.
The Antenna programme is aimed at those who want to focus on employability skills such as communication, team working, health and safety and job application processes. Learners will be able to try out different city-based work placements alongside their education programme to help them decide what industry they want to develop a career in.
Both Portland College City Learning programmes are tailored around individual employment outcomes and learners can develop vocational and personal skills and may choose to study a related qualification up to Level 2.
Each programme is for three days a week and will usually last between 1 and 2 years.
Mark Dale, Principal and CEO of Portland College commented: “This is an exciting year for our learners. We’ve recently launched our new five-year plan which focuses on extending our provision into the city and other towns so more people can benefit from the Portland experience.
The Portland College City Learning offer means Nottingham based learners can access our high-quality programmes on their doorsteps, reducing the need for travel and improving their independence and employability skills.
We’re proud to offer such a unique programme where learners will gain a host of skills in the fabulous environment of Wollaton Park. For those who want to be more central to the city, the Antenna programme will open up a world of opportunities for learners who are interested in a career in city-based industries such as retail, hospitality and facilities management.”
Chadsgrove Specialist College secures a dream day for one of their students
Chadsgrove Specialist College were delighted to have a very special visit for one lucky student over February half-term.
Bromsgrove and Redditch District Waste Department heard about how one of Chadsgrove’s student’s future aspirations is to become a bin man. To help make Billy’s dreams come true, they kindly sent along a fully manned, bright yellow bin lorry.
Billy got to empty all the school and college bins using the buttons on the vehicle and was given his very own pink mixed recycling bin to help collect all the recycling on site. He also had a ride in the lorry and was awarded a well-earned certificate of achievement.
Everyone at Chadsgrove agreed Billy would make the perfect bin man, although no one was particularly happy at the thought of a 4:00 AM start!
A big thanks to Bromsgrove District Council for making this happen.
Tree Planting at Langdon College
This term Langdon College joined City of Trees Manchester for The Northern Forest Project. City of Trees is the Greater Manchester part of the Northern Forest, a 25-year vision to plant 50 million trees across the North of England, stretching from Liverpool to Hull. The learners volunteered their service to help with the tree planting efforts in the local community at Hurst Woods in Bury. The weather was cold and damp on an open field, but the learners’ determination and passion led to them planting over 40 trees.
The learners prepared for the day making packed lunches and planning appropriate clothing for the activity. Arriving on site they were provided with appropriate PPE and tools for the job. The learners followed instructions using hessian matting and pegs to plant the Douglas Fir trees. The learning journey will continue as the college will revisit the site over time to see how the trees have grown and the landscape and wildlife has developed.
Ellie’s skills competition entry
Ellie, a student at Coleg Elidyr has been involved in a Horticulture Competition as part of the Skills Competition Wales. Ellie has completed her assessment where she had to carry out two tasks. She has also uploaded all her evidence onto Google Docs and set up her very own portfolio too for the judges to see. Everyone at Coleg Elidyr is very proud of Ellie and congratulate her on whatever the outcome of the competition.
Ellie’s tasks were as follows:
Task 1: On paper…
- Draw a plan or design of the planter or hanging basket, highlighting a theme for the planter or hanging basket.
- Indicate on the plan or design where each plant section will be placed
- Include a planting list
Task 2: Practical assessment…
- Demonstrate horticulture health & safety
- Construct the planter according to the plan
- Clear away equipment, put away tools and clean work area
- Present your planter
- Demonstrate after-care
Good luck Ellie, all your work looks fabulous!
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