Natspec Highlights | May 2019

A monthly roundup of stories from the specialist sector

Natspec Highlights | May 2019

It’s been another busy month for our colleges! At Natspec, we were delighted to see so many colleges and students participate in the Natspec Games over the month – and there’s still the South East Games to get involved with in June.

We’ve got some exciting things to watch in this edition of the Highlights, as students from Catcote Academy have been producing their own cookery show, and RNIB college has been hosting a film festival! Students have also gotten involved with the great outdoors, tackling mountains and canoeing canals to complete expeditions, whilst others have been working out how to use digital technology to express themselves.

Read on for stories about the following:

  1. Catcote Academy launches a second series of cookery programme.
  2. Portland College student Jess wins Emerging Artist Award!
  3. Learners from Eat That Frog get a bite of the digital skills apple!
  4. Cambian Lufton learners tackle the Ten Tors
  5. Learners at Homefield College play at Leicester City FC.
  6. Seòl Trust Open Day: 18 June 2019.
  7. Derwen College Students Going for Gold, Silver and Bronze.
  8. The 2019 Shorties Film Festival at RNIB College.
  9. Talking to Support Staff at Bridge College.
  10. Expanse Learning’s Latest Recruit
  11. Hedleys College students become ambassadors to their favourite football team new social campaign ‘United As One’
  12. Hereward College shortlisted for national award for supported employment work.
  13. Ready, Steady, Cook at Queen Alexandra College
  14. Upcoming Events

Catcote Academy launches a second series of cookery programme

Look out Gordon Ramsay! The students of Catcote Futures College in Hartlepool have their very own weekly cookery programme! The show is called Catcote Cooks and each week the students demonstrate how to make simple, functional snacks and meals to increase independence skills.

Teacher Pete Wells said “I’m thrilled at how excited the students are to be part of the project and, of course, with the progress and skills they have demonstrated. As well as showing their awesome cooking prowess, the students have to be mindful of keeping the audience engaged, which is really important. So, like the very best celebrity chefs, they try to ensure there are no boring silences, which is great for their communication skills.”

The Catcote Cooks crew have a diverse range of needs and the college is keen to highlight the use of assistive technologies to allow all learners to be an integral part of the show. Student and presenter James Dean has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and his movement limited primarily to his head and thumbs. He not only uses switches to control the kitchen appliances used in the show, but he also composed the theme tune. He said “Using the technology gives me independence and allows me to show the world what I can do!”

New presenter Conor Lambert said “I watched the first episodes of Catcote Cooks during my Easter holidays to give me tips on how to present. I really enjoy doing it, it’s my favourite lesson of the week!”

The web-based series is updated weekly and is in its second season.


Portland College student Jess wins Emerging Artist Award!

Jess with her Be Mighty Be Creative AwardOne of Portland College’s first year learners, Jessica Fisher, last month won an award at the ‘Be Mighty Be Creative Awards 2019’ which were organised by The Mighty Creatives, a Midlands-based charity working with children and young people to provide them with creative opportunities.

Jess was awarded with The Young Emerging Artist Award following her work with a developer of a wheelchair controller through which she can play music. She has performed at the Mansfield Palace Theatre and at the Metronome in Nottingham showcasing this amazing piece of equipment. Jess has also been invited to perform at a BBC Introducing Gig with Dean Jackson on the 27 June.

Jess’s tutor Lianne Worth said: “Jess’s family, myself and her progression tutor, Verity Cartwright, are extremely proud of this achievement and are hopeful that this will lead to further opportunities for Jess in the future.”


Learners from Eat That Frog get a bite of the digital skills apple!

Learners from Eat that Frog display the drawings they've made on iPadsLearners from Eat That Frog’s South Devon centres have been working closely with local Apple representatives to help them make the most of the latest technology. Apple originally approached ETF to offer a training day for staff, who were shown how to use the new iPad Pro to its full potential.

Staff then arranged for a mixed group of digital skills and creative learners to experience this for themselves, giving learners the chance to experiment with a design app called ‘Procreate’. With this application they drew artistic portraits (mostly of their tutor!). After creating their portraits the learners began tinkering around with tools the application had to offer, creating beautiful symmetrical drawings.

The learners all expressed great pleasure in learning how to use their technology better, and said they’d love to explore more in the future, which is great, as Apple are keen to keep collaborating with Eat That Frog throughout the next academic year!


Cambian Lufton learners tackle the Ten Tors

Cambian Lufton students climbing the TorsOn the 10 and 11 May, three Cambian Lufton College learners took part in the Ten Tors Challenge on Dartmoor. The group set up camp on the Friday for the overnight stay and completed their challenge walk on the Saturday. Our college team completed the Jubilee Challenge Route 2 in just over 4 hours and were the first team back.


Learners at Homefield College play at Leicester City FC

A student excited about visiting the King Power stadium

Seven students from Homefield College had the chance to show off their skills at the home of Leicester City Football Club. Gracing King Power Stadium’s hallowed turf, the students participated in a memorable ‘Play on the Pitch’ football tournament.

The team had a fantastic day, playing five separate matches with some difficult opposition. The Homefield students came together with great team spirit and made the most of a very special day.


Seòl Trust Open Day: 18 June 2019

The Seòl Trust buildingRuskin Mill Trust are proud to announce the opening of their latest provision, the Seòl Trust, this Summer 2019. Set in 60 acres of beautiful woodland in East Lothian, this day provision offers people with complex needs, aged 18+ years the opportunity to build self-confidence and improve independence through experiencing meaningful craft, land and practical skills based activities. Progression towards internship, apprentices, employment and accreditations are available through a programme built around the unique Trust method of Practical Skills and Therapeutic Education (PSTE). Pishwanton Wood is a site for environmental education, research and holistic practice, offering opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to renew and deepen their relationship with nature.


Derwen College Students Going for Gold, Silver and Bronze

Derwen College students have faced wet weather, blisters and nights under canvas this month in preparation for challenging Duke of Edinburgh’s (D of E) Awards. A total of 44 students have been training for their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards on gruelling practice expeditions. Students have covered miles of road, canal and lake in the build up to demanding treks which will see them achieving Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.

16 Bronze Award students tackled a 5km walk across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct into Chirk in preparation for a two-day expedition around the Chirk area. 22 Silver students spent three days and two nights on a canoeing and camping expedition along the Llangollen canal, completing a gruelling 26 kilometres on the water.

Six students have been working towards the most challenging Gold Award. Students spent five days and four nights at Glan Llyn activity centre on the shores of Lake Bala taking part in a range of outdoor activities and helped instructors deliver activities to school children. They also undertook a four day and three night trek in the Beddgelert area of Snowdonia, walking 10km each day

Steve Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards leader and Sports Coordinator at Derwen College says: “The D of E programme is challenging and gives our students the chance to develop skills for life and work. It promotes independence, pushing young people out of their comfort zone. As well as gaining a nationally recognised award, achievement of the D of E evidences commitment and dedication whilst developing problem solving, independent thinking and leadership attributes; skills that the students can use in other areas of life. It is recognised as the world’s leading youth award and can enhance employment and independence – something we actively promote at Derwen College.”

  • Students setting off on their DoE expedition

The 2019 Shorties Film Festival at RNIB College

A student receives a certificate for participating in the film festivalOn Wednesday 8 May, budding filmmakers, directors and producers came together for the Shorties Film Festival at RNIB College Loughborough.

Following on from the success of last year’s film festival, the 2019 Shorties were held to give students, staff and friends of the College an opportunity to show off their best work in the form of a short film. Entries included a film about staying safe on the internet, short animated movies, an instructional DIY video and an insight into what Darth Vader does on his days off!

The audience enjoyed an independent screening of ten films that had been submitted by staff and students of RNIB College Loughborough, Forest Way School, Homefield College and Gateway College.

The film festival was organised by one of the tutors at RNIB College Loughborough, Anna Janickyj, who said;

“This year we moved from Stop Motion Films to Short Films for the Festival. We had 10 very different and interesting films in different genres. Two of this year’s films are part of a series; one continuing the story of Psycho the Squirrel and the other continuing the ‘How Darth Vader Learned to Love…’ series. We also had a number of documentary films for the first time including a film about how to make a work bench. We received 3 external entries from other colleges and schools, so it was good to see their work. We did, of course, have the odd technical glitch, which was quickly resolved. I was pleased to hand out a Certificate of Participation to each entrant and sell a few DVDs featuring all of this year’s films. I hope that we continue with the Short Film Festival next year, and I would like to see many more external entries”.

You can watch some of this year’s submissions here.


Talking to Support Staff at Bridge College

Jade Cole from Bridge College caught up with two of their support workers to chat about what makes them proud, the highs and lows at Bridge College and what inspires them. Sandi says “it’s about ensuring the students feel like they’re in a safe happy environment so they can do their work.”

Debbie says: “One student stands out for me. When he first arrived at college he was working with three support workers and displaying very challenging behaviours. We’ve worked together as a team and now three years later he can manage his behaviours really well! Currently he doesn’t display any challenging behaviours and that’s because of all the input from the staff team.”

You can read more of the interview here.


Expanse Learning’s Latest Recruit

Student with Molly the therapy dogExpanse Learning recently welcomed a new member to the team in Molly, School’s Therapy Dog. Research shows that therapy dogs have the ability to ‘reduce depression, PTSD symptoms, and anxiety’. Therefore, for a specialist school supporting students with SEND, a therapy dog is the perfect fit.

During an average school day, Molly, who belongs to Expanse Learning’s CEO Tony, sits in class with our students, offering therapeutic respite throughout the day, where needed. During break time the students can interact with her, take her for a walk around the school grounds or even play ball with her.

Molly has been supporting our students-she has been settling anxieties and putting smiles on lots of faces. She brings a real sense of excitement to the school and is proving to be one of the main attractions.

Molly is a lively dog, enjoys all the attention and the time spent with students and is really helping to improve the emotional wellbeing of both students and staff at the school. She is a wonderful asset to our team.


Hedleys College students become ambassadors to their favourite football team new social campaign ‘United As One’

"This is an opportunity for different types of people to come together and enjoy the experience" - Harry"I want all clubs to let people know everyone is welcome with open arms" - EwanNewcastle United Football Club, supported by its own former frontman Shola Ameobi, has recently launched a campaign ‘United As One’. We were thrilled to hear when the club has invited Hedleys College students, who are currently attending work experience at St James Park, to become the campaign ambassadors. Both Ewan and Harry are over the moon to become a part of the campaign that they strongly believe in. United As One’ aims to end discrimination and inequality in football and society and improve social inclusion in the sport by linking the club’s work in the fields of diversity, inclusion and welfare under one banner.


Hereward College shortlisted for national award for supported employment work

Hereward College in Coventry has been shortlisted as a finalist for the ERSA Employability Awards 2019 in the Disability and Health Employment category. Now in its seventh year, the ERSA Employability Awards celebrate best practice across the employment support sector and seek to demonstrate the day-to-day hard work and dedication of those working to improve the lives of jobseekers, communities and the wider workforce.

The college has been shortlisted for the Disability and Health Employment award, which recognises an employment services provider who has demonstrated exceptional commitment in supporting jobseekers with disabilities and health conditions to achieve sustained employment.

Its highly successful supported internship scheme has seen rapid expansion, with over 55% of participating learners achieving sustained employment as a result.

As a successful finalist, Hereward College will attend a special ceremony on 20 June with the Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma MP.

Paul Cook, Principal, Hereward College said:“We are delighted that our work has been shortlisted for this national award. Our Supported Internship model has shown real results and continues to grow year on year, showing demonstrable benefits to both learners and business.”


Ready, Steady, Cook at Queen Alexandra College

Student cooks preparing for competitionAs part of Queen Alexandra College’s ongoing healthy eating project, they invited the School Food Showdown to deliver interactive workshops to students.

Chef Ian explained why breakfast is important, the five food groups and why less healthy food should only be eaten in moderation. The session culminated in two student groups (red and green) competing against each other to produce the best healthy meal. The audience voted on the best dish with their green and red cards.

There were two competing rounds and all the student groups involved tried to produce the winning dish; one of the groups produced a Birmingham Stew which was unknown to the entire audience and unfortunately didn’t end up as the group had intended. Despite this, it was a great morning and the students had lots of fun.

Loosely based on the popular TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Cook!’ students found the workshops exhilarating, fun, highly interactive and educational. Chef Ian offered students advice and guidance throughout and kept the audience entertained and engaged!


Upcoming Events

Students were busy throughout May attending the North-West, Yorkshire and Humber, Midlands and Wales and South West Natspec Games. Still to come is the South East Natspec Games, happening on 20 June in Sussex.

The next meeting of the Student Voice Parliament is also coming up on 11 June at the Seashell Trust in Manchester. It’s been two years since we set up the Student Voice Parliament and it’s exciting to see it go from strength to strength.