It’s been another busy month for Natspec colleges! We’re pleased this month to bring you a number of stories about students thriving even in challenging conditions, finding opportunities for work experience that are often leading to paid employment. And we’ve got news about successful fundraisers, and students getting involved in their local communities whilst gaining new skills!
Natspec has also been very busy! 2020’s TechAbility Conference took place on November 3, discussing Access to a Digital Future with a number of presentations and discussions. We’ve also hosted two webinars with the winners of 2020’s Natspec Awards – the sessions with Camphill Wakefield and Ambitious College are available to watch now. And as part of our commitment to providing training that meets our members’ needs, we’ve got a new course on offer too: Monitoring the quality of teaching, learning, assessment and support for learners with SEND.
- Nina’s leap from supported internship to IKEA employment
- Manny’s Story: Finding his voice
- Specialist College Students Raise Money for Henshaws Hundreds
- Star of the airwaves
- Work experience continues at Fairfield Farm College
- Building self-esteem at HBVC
- Philip’s Story: Gaining New Skills in the Workplace
- College apps win award for innovation
- A New Start for the Newstart Hall
- Helping out with the family business
Nina’s leap from supported internship to IKEA employment
A WESC Foundation student is heading off to the world of work after secured a paid job at Exeter’s IKEA in record-breaking time.
College student Nina had been working at the store alongside her studies as part of an unpaid supported internship. She made such an impression that managers offered her a paid role in the store’s restaurant after just three weeks.
Nina attends WESC Foundation’s specialist centre that supports young adults with vision impairment and complex needs. Specialist staff support her education alongside daily living skills and how to make the best use of her useful vision.
She started her supported internship after returning from the summer holidays and combines her studies with her IKEA placement two to three days each week.
“I was a bit nervous at the start, but now I really enjoy it. I love going to IKEA, and really enjoy getting to work the tea and coffee machine, and taking food out to the customers”.
Linda Stafford coordinates work placements and other opportunities for WESC Foundation students. She said:
“I’m really proud of Nina for not only having the confidence to take on a supported internship, but also for being offered a paid job so early in the term.
“These internships provide outstanding opportunities for young adults with vision impairment and other needs. We’re grateful that IKEA has joined the growing network of Exeter businesses who are helping us break down the barriers that these amazing young people often face out in the world.”
Manny’s Story: Finding his voice
This new student success story, from Orpheus, details the experiences Manny had throughout his time at college. Written in his own words, he tells us how being at Orpheus has helped him develop, find his voice, and progress. He also tells us about his hopes for the future and how he’s doing in his supported accommodation.
Specialist College Students Raise Money for Henshaws Hundreds
Students and staff at Henshaws College took part in hundreds of activities during September for a very special cause. The Henshaws Hundreds challenge was launched to raise funds for Henshaws charity which supports people with visual impairments and other disabilities.
Students really enjoyed getting involved, and there were lots of activities to suit their different interests. There were hundreds of star jumps, miles walked, jogs, squats, Makaton signs learnt, books read, potatoes dug up and cans crushed. It was a great activity for students to focus on at the start of term, which has been different to normal.
The college were just some of the fundraisers who took part in the challenge. As well as over 1,500 miles being completed by running, walking or cycling, there were hundreds of jumps, yoga poses, a special DJ mix of 100 tunes and much more.
In total over £12,000 was raised, which is an amazing achievement! The money will go towards supporting Henshaws service users, including the college students.
Star of the airwaves
National Star Student Ben Lloyd turned DJ on a local community radio station to share his love of music.
Ben, a student at National Star in Hereford, always fully participates in occupational therapy-led dance sessions at college, often picking up a guitar to play along with the songs.
So it’s no surprise that he jumped at the chance of presenting his own 30-minute show on a new community radio station Bromyard FM.
The musical Grease is one of Ben’s favourite albums and so he chose to play songs from the film during his time on air. He prepared his set list in advance and how he wanted to announce the songs on air.
Since its launch in March listeners to Bromyard FM have grown immensely with the station adding new presenters and slots dedicated to a wide variety of music genres.
After the show Ben said: “It was amazing and fun. It made me feel happy! I loved the music and the chat, I was cool and not nervous. Paul was really funny. I hope it helps me with music in the future.”
Presenter Paul Geoghegan said: “Everyone involved in BFM Radio was blown away by Ben’s enthusiasm and commitment to sharing the music that he loves. His passion for Grease was infectious. We had lots of positive feedback on our Facebook chat group during the show and messages about Ben for days afterwards too – he made a very positive impression on our listeners.”
Work experience continues at Fairfield Farm College
Fairfield Farm College students continue to show their resilience and commitment as they adapt to the latest Covid19 working guidelines and changes. Students have been busy working in the college shop, café, reception and Hope Nature Centre Animal Park adapting to the new Covid19 ways of working which include face masks, social distancing and regularly washing hands and using hand sanitiser.
Four students Kieran, Ryan, Tom and Zackary have started a new weekly work experience partnership with The Canal & River Trust based at Bradford on Avon Wharf. Students have been helping with the ground’s maintenance of the carpark and picnic areas and litter picking the canal bank around the wharf. Students have been able to learn about the management of the waterways and how canal boats move through lock gates, even helping at times. Students have been learning how to use the mower to cut the grass in the picnic area and have been using tools to cut back and clear Sycamore trees. Future planned jobs include canal lock gate maintenance and tree and hedge planting.
Tomas has been undertaking work experience with Lyons Seafood’s in Warminster for the past two years. Tomas cannot physically go into the office at present but is now working with Lyons again one day a week based in the FFC World of Work office and remote working. Tomas has had to learn how to use Microsoft Teams so that he can virtually meet with the Product Development team and is currently working on product benchmarking for Lyons range of Christmas products that will go to the main UK retailers.
Building self-esteem at HBVC
Learners at HBVC have been looking closely at the qualities that they have to promote self-esteem and self-awareness. Each learner thought about what their own qualities are, before this was then put on display, as a reminder of things they believe about themselves. Learners then had a chance to think about things they liked about one of their peers, as well as how it makes someone feel when you give them a compliment. This helped to build positive relationships and gave learners an understanding of what others liked about them.
For Black History Month, another group of learners decided to create their own face masks using African print material. African print material is used throughout a lot of west, east and Central African countries for clothing, bags and jewellery. It is known for vibrant colours and unique patterns.
The learners watched a YouTube video detailing how to create a handmade face mask before creating a step by step guide for them to follow whilst making the masks.
The learners practiced how to sew on scrap material before creating their final product. All face masks were hand sewn.
Meanwhile, users on the Independence pathway used Lego blocks to build a structure for their ‘rebuilding relationships’ topic.
This was an activity to practice rebuilding, which involved learners working in pairs; one learner built a structure and took a picture of it. They then dismantled it and challenged their peer to copy the photo taken. The peer would then attempt to make the same structure, using only the photo as a guide. During feedback at the end, the learners mentioned finding this challenging and none of the learners were able to copy the initial structure straight away. This reinforced that rebuilding relationships can be difficult and is something we need to work hard on.
Philip’s Story: Gaining New Skills in the Workplace
Philip, from Hedleys College, completed a Supported Internship with Elior Caterers. Previously, Philip has been involved in range of work placements whilst attending the Vocational Programme at Hedleys College which has supported him in developing the skills required. Read more about Philip’s work experiences in the full student story.
College apps win award for innovation
Derwen College has won a prestigious award for 2020 for developing brand new technology to support students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) into work.
The residential and day college for young adults with SEND has partnered with app developers Starfish Labs to create a ground-breaking suite of iOS and Android-compatible apps. The college is thrilled that their ‘Digital Support Work’ project has won the Innovation Award for Technology from nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs) in their 2020 Awards.
The ‘Digital Support Work’ project was part funded by Marches Local Enterprise Partnership Midlands Engine. It brought together a unique partnership combining digital expertise with expertise in SEND education.
The apps are designed specifically for use by people with special education needs. They include apps to help students learn to work in the college’s training hotel and Premier Inn hotels, as well as in a café or shop environment. There is also a CV Builder app which allows students to create and send their own CV, including video and photographic evidence of their skills.
Derwen College has harnessed technology with a vitally important outcome in mind: to support students with learning and communication difficulties in developing their training and employment skills. Future employment, and maximum independence, are the ultimate goal of the digital ‘Support Work’ project.
Derwen College Principal Meryl Green said:
“Derwen offers students with a range of complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) the teaching, skills and support to achieve employment by equipping them with the digital tools to succeed. The apps offer students greater independence which ultimately leads to increased self-confidence and a more independent way of working and living.
“We are very pleased that our continuing work on this unique project has been recognised with a nasen award.”
Professor Adam Boddison, Chief Executive of nasen, said:
“We are delighted that Derwen College has been awarded nasen’s Innovation Award for Technology and want to recognise their incredible and innovative achievements. We want to share our thanks to Derwen College and Starfish Labs. We are proud to spotlight their work and best practice to benefit the education and SEND sectors.”
Winners of nasen’s fourth annual Awards were revealed in an online celebration with 13 outstanding schools, individuals and organisations winning accolades for their important work to ensure children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) reach their full potential.
A New Start for the Newstart Hall
Thanks to a huge fundraising campaign, Portland College is excited to announce the start of an innovative project to redevelop the Newstart Hall.
The ambitious plans will see Newstart transform from the tired hall it is today into a fantastic facility for people with disabilities.
Originally built in the 1950’s, Newstart Hall has been the central hub of Portland College for many years. With a theatre, music and performance studio and a bar / lounge, many of Portland’s learners, past and present have fond memories of the facility.
With a focus on sports and performing arts, Newstart will become a hive of activities, events and education programmes for our learners, local groups and wider communities.
The contemporary development will include a multi-use sports and performance facility with a modern theatre environment and state-of-art LED glass flooring, enabling customised sport layouts at the click of the button – one of only three such floor systems in the country!
The fundraising campaign is still ongoing, and Mark Dale, Principal and CEO of Portland College has pledged to be the first to sponsor a seat in the new theatre, saying:
“I am really happy to kickstart this fundraiser and be the first to sponsor a seat in our Newstart Hall. Our highly innovative design breathes new life into a 60 year old building and construction is well underway as I write this.
“I can’t wait to be able to sit on “my seat” and watch theatre performances and see our own students and other local community groups using the state of the art sports facilities.”
Helping out with the family business
Not letting the current climate phase him, keen Year 13 student Max, from New College Worcester decided to keep practising those all-important independent skills that he is learning in Sixth Form by working for his family business during lockdown.
Max’s grandparents have a long established family run business in the schoolwear industry, something which Max had been eager to learn more about.
Due to Covid-19 and not being able to operate from their usual place of work, Max helped set up the selling of three junior schools from his home during the summer holidays. He managed orders over email, used voice over to instruct him about the orders and then picked and packed the uniforms to send out to customers!
Returning to New College Worcester in September for the start of a brand new term, Max has become proficient in his organisational and customer service skills. He is now transferring these to a new work placement at local Upton Baptist Church, which is linked with his studies at Sixth Form.
Max attends the church four days per week and is getting involved with looking after the community fridge, working in the café and maintaining the communal garden area. He is learning lots about the local community, their needs and how to respond.
Praising Max, Rev Amy Wearling said: “Max is such a great member of our team!”
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