Welcome back to the Natspec Highlights! After a tumultuous end to the last academic year, our colleges are now back! The start of this academic year looks a little different than usual, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but students are back on site once again!
At Natspec, our autumn programme of events and training remains virtual. Make sure to check out our events calendar for all the details! Most excitingly, 2020’s TechAbility Conference will be a full day virtual event, with input from practitioners, experts and suppliers. If you have any interest in how assistive technology can be used to support learning and independent living, it’s a must attend event!
We’re delighted this month to bring you news about new sites opening, a beloved community institution being saved by a college, student work placement success and much more! Read on for all the details.
- Queen Alexandra College to deliver ground breaking elite Wheelchair Basketball programme
- Freeman College makes the inaugural Natspec Award Trophies
- Foxes Hotel Wins 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award
- Introducing Breward’s – Homefield College’s latest enterprise endeavour
- Ikea donation helps students flex their teamwork skills
- Treloar College student starts own photography business after success of Supported Internship programme
- Linkage College opens new provision in Beverley in September
- Employment Success for Learners from Portland College
- Derwen opens a new campus in Telford
Queen Alexandra College to deliver ground breaking elite Wheelchair Basketball programme
Queen Alexandra College are working in collaboration with University of Worcester and The Albion Foundation to deliver a unique and ground-breaking elite Wheelchair Basketball sport performance programme.
The programme is specially designed for ambitious young sports people aged 16-24 years who use a manual wheelchair. It will offer them the opportunity to develop as a wheelchair Basketball player, providing a player pathway from playing in Regional, National and International competition.
Students will be coached by experienced and qualified Basketball Association and Wheelchair Basketball coaches. Training will be provided at the University of Worcester Arena – training base for GB Men’s and Women’s Wheelchair Basketball teams (2013-2017).
Bev Jessop, QAC Principal and Chief Executive, commented:
“QAC is really pleased to be collaborating on this exciting new initiative with The Albion Foundation and University of Worcester. We look forward to the opportunities it will give young people to develop their passion for wheelchair basketball and progress as a player.”
Freeman College makes the inaugural Natspec Award Trophies
2020 was the inaugural year of the Natspec Awards, celebrating the innovative practice happening in specialist colleges. Freeman College, part of Ruskin Mill Trust, was entrusted with designing the inaugural Natspec Award trophies.>With a focus on metal work inspired by Sheffield’s heritage, as well as lessons in wood working, their talented students were in a perfect position to design and build a trophy fitting for the awards.
Rick Reeve, one of the pewter tutors at the college, asked the students to “think outside the box”, and look at designs away from the traditional ‘cup’ style trophy:
“We looked at all the designs and picked out elements from most designs. Some of the inspiration from student designs came from things such as a yacht’s hull all the way through to medieval shields. A couple of the designs also incorporated other elements such as wood.”
The trophies have now arrived at the six award winning colleges to take pride of place.
The Natspec Awards are now open for entries in 2021. We are also on the lookout for a college to take on creating the 2021 trophies – get in touch at email@example.com if you want to know more.
Our @Natspec 2020 trophy for Student Voice has arrived, designed by students at @RuskinMill – and it looks lovely! Congratulations to our student voice leaders on their achievement, the trophy is taking pride of place in our top office! pic.twitter.com/rngL2wnHYL
— Elidyr Communities Trust (@ColegElidyr) September 14, 2020
Foxes Hotel Wins 2020 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Award
Foxes Hotel has been recognized as a 2020 Travellers’ Choice award-winner for the third consecutive year, placing them in the top 10% of hospitality businesses around the globe. Based on a full year of Tripadvisor reviews, prior to any changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, award winners consistently receive great feedback.
Run by Foxes Academy, Foxes Hotel provides students with real world work experience in a working hotel.
Foxes Hotel has a five out of five rating on Trip Advisor with guests commenting, “The food, both in its taste and presentation, is definitely of the highest standard. The uniqueness of the experience you will have cannot be praised or described adequately,” and saying “Couldn’t fault a thing about it. We will definitely be back!”
Emma Cobley, Principal at Foxes said:
“We are delighted to win this award, especially as we are now welcoming guests back to Foxes Hotel for lunches, cream teas and our popular Sunday roasts. The delicious locally sourced food is prepared by our students with professional chefs, you can view our menus on the website. We have the strictest cleaning and safety standards in place to protect guests, students and staff, with a warm Foxes welcome for everyone.”
Student CB said:
“I am proud to work at the hotel. It is great to learn new skills in a place that gets good reviews.”
“Winners of the 2020 Travellers’ Choice Awards should be proud of this distinguished recognition,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “Although it’s been a challenging year for travel and hospitality, we want to celebrate our partners’ achievements. Award winners are beloved for their exceptional service and quality. Not only are these winners well deserving, they are also a great source of inspiration as the world begins to venture out again.”
Introducing Breward’s – Homefield College’s latest enterprise endeavour
Homefield College have a new enterprise – Breward’s, in Mountsorrel.
After hearing that Sorrel Youth Café’s future was uncertain, they reached out to see if we could help. Community is so important to their College ethos, and despite only moving to Mountsorrel in 2019, they were aware of how important SYC was to the village.
Working with SYC’s Coordinator Nicci Ilett, the space has been saved and will continue to operate as a community coffee shop. It will be kept as a hub for groups within Mountsorrel, and there is the possibility of an artisan bakery with goods made in students’ catering sessions.
Along with edible goods, Homefield will also be selling a range of craft products, woodwork, artwork and cards made by their students and resident, following success at local market stalls.
Once the site was secured, a graphic design competition was held for students to design the logo for Breward’s. The logo, as developed, is based on a creation from William. Using that as inspiration, Homefield have developed a great brand including loyalty cards with William’s strap-line: B.Rewarded ‘Work Hard. Drink Coffee. Eat Cake.’
Breward’s is currently being redecorated and Homefield would like to thank Bell Group for their skills and expertise in helping, along with AkzoNobel and Dulux Decorating Centre Loughborough for their generosity.
Breward’s will open properly later in the year!
Ikea donation helps students flex their teamwork skills
Students at Communication Specialist College Doncaster (CSCD) have been putting their DIY and teamwork skills to the test to create a brand new space that will help them to glean independent living skills.
Following a generous donation from Ikea, students will benefit from having an equipped new area. New spaces are needed as students move into separate Hubs (bubbles) across college due to Covid 19. The kitchen will support students to learn Independent Living Skills including cooking.
The furniture company – which donated a kitchen, 10 computer tables, two low level tables,12 plastic chairs, two small coffee tables, one small cabinet – has supported students to identify their skills and strengths.
Students worked together in an effective learning exercise to assemble the items. Meanwhile Ikea provided feedback on their communication, teamwork, leadership, problem solving and self-management, as well as commenting on the fully assembled piece of furniture.
Stacey Betts, Assistant Principal at CSCD, said:
“We’re incredibly grateful to Ikea for their charitable donation which has helped students to reimagine a new space that will be invaluable when it comes to learning skills that will help them become independent individuals.
“Our students thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of working together to assemble furniture and playing an integral part of creating this new environment for them to learn in. We hope that they have gained some important training during this process that they will take forward in their future.”
Treloar College student starts own photography business after success of Supported Internship programme
Eoin Searle, aged 22, has cerebral palsy and is a student at Treloar College in Alton. Following the success of a Supported Internship with Vets4Pets in Farnham, he has decided to set up his own photography business.
This opportunity, which allows for students to get hands-on experience working for a company, has helped Eoin to develop the skills and experience to start up his own enterprising business, Searle’s Photography.
Eoin said of his Supported Internship and new business venture:
“My Supported Internship not only gave me confidence, it taught me work skills and how to be professional in the working world.
I have really enjoyed setting up my own business and website to share my photography and I have already made some sales. I have been passionate about photography since I got my first camera, aged 6”
Alongside his business selling his photographs at searlesphotography.shop, Eoin has also been offered employment beyond his internship year at Vets4Pets.
Job Coach, Charlotte Warwick-Mills said:
“It’s absolutely brilliant that Eoin has set up his own website for his photography business alongside his work placement. His internship year has given him confidence in his own abilities, leading him on to further opportunities.
Linkage College opens new provision in Beverley in September
Linkage College have opened East Riding’s first further education college for young people with learning disabilities in Beverley, despite the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Linkage College has worked with the East Riding’s SEND Commissioning Team to expand to the region.
The newly renovated facilities offer a safe and calm learning environment. And, they’re just a stone’s throw away from the town’s plentiful opportunities for enrichment, community engagement and work placements.
Assistant Principal Sarah Boughen said:
“After the challenges coronavirus has thrown at us this year, we are really excited and, to be honest, very relieved to be opening in September as planned. Our campus in Beverley is the East Riding’s only specialist further education college provision. Evidence shows there is a clear need for post-16 education for young people with learning disabilities in this area. We have felt an enormous responsibility to open and start supporting those young people and their families.
Being in Beverley means we’re within easy travelling distance for learners in Hull, the East Riding and wider Yorkshire. It also gives our learners access to shops, leisure activities, public transport and local businesses right on our doorstep. From experience we know that young people learn best through real-life experiences. Access to these amenities is key for helping students gain the confidence, self-esteem, knowledge and skills to transition into adulthood with a greater amount of independence. Whether it’s practising using money, travelling safely or getting them ready for employment through work experience and internships, learners are going to have so many opportunities available to them.”
Employment Success for Learners from Portland College
Following a Supported Internship for learners Daniel and Isaac, and an extended work placement for learner Willow, all three from Portland College have been successful in obtaining part time paid employment with local property maintenance company, Matrix Properties.
Daniel, Isaac and Willow showed such commitment to their placements and to the Employers. They always strove to do their best and completing tasks to their full potential. The whole team at Matrix Properties for provided meaningful placements with opportunities to develop a variety of skills.
Alex from Matrix said;
“Off the back of supported student work placements, we have recruited 5 Portland students as employees over the past 3 years. Working with the college to recruit and train students has proven to be a successful recruitment program for us, year on year. We look forward to continuing the relationship into the forthcoming academic years and are really excited to officially welcome Daniel, Isaac and Willow to the team.”
Derwen opens a new campus in Telford
Derwen College welcomes the first students to its new satellite provision in Telford this month.
Derwen College has opened a campus for day students at Stafford Park industrial estate, Telford. The launch comes in response to a need for more options in expert vocational training and independence skills learning for young people in the local authority.
Zoe Wood, Head of Curriculum, said:
“We are over the moon to welcome our first day students to the new Telford site this month.
“We have worked with the local authority, the families and young people who will be joining us in September to make the transition a positive experience.
“Our work in providing successful smaller satellite provision at Craven Arms and Baschurch has proved what young adults with SEND can achieve given the right teaching, work experience and independence learning. We look forward to getting to know our new Derwen students over the coming months and supporting them towards achieving their aspirations.”
Councillor Shirley Reynolds, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning, said:
“We have worked with Derwen College to launch this new satellite which will support young people with SEND in developing work and independence skills and work placements which will prepare them for employment and a more independent future.
“Along with the college, we have identified a suitable location, and alongside families been able to select students who we think would benefit most from the experience.
“Our SEND team share Derwen College’s mission to educate, inspire and empower young adults to lead the lives they choose.”
Two students from Derwen and their families also took part in Derwen’s LEJOG virtual fundraising challenge, raising more than £3,000 between them. Tom and William took to walking, running and cycling around their local areas. Tom from Hanwell, London, discovered many new walks and pathways in London. Throughout, he kept everyone at college updated with lots of photos and descriptions of his outings. William and his mother, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, did lots of walking, running and cycling and have said they really enjoyed getting fitter.
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