Hello all! It’s a new academic year and our members have been busy getting off to a fantastic start with some great new initiatives. Students are out enjoying new work placements, or new facilities, and we’re celebrating some student successes over summer.
Here at Natspec, we’re busy putting plans in place for next year. We’re excited to see some of our colleagues in person for our Principal’s Forum next week, and there’s also our TechAbility Conference 2021 coming up in November. Watch this space for more things we have coming up!
- Bridge College features in Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership film
- Students shine in national art competition
- Derwen College launches new Nurture programme
- Landmarks learners compete for best in show
- A new academic year and new Sport and Education programme
- Principal at QAC receives prestigious West Midlands Leadership Award
- New Marketing Work Placement at Sense College Loughborough
- Brand new Sensory Room opens at ESPA College
- Students enjoy work experience placements at Fairfield Farm College
- Treloar’s Patron and former student David Smith becomes the most decorated British Boccia player of all time
- InFocus – a new chapter for WESC Foundation
- Five-day coast to coast cycle raises funds for Deaf students’ enterprise
Bridge College features in Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership film
Bridge College had a fantastic opportunity to work with the Manchester Health and Social care partnership to share student’s experiences of transitioning from school to further education. Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP) is supporting the city region’s pupils through its mental health in education programme and Bridge College are proud to be part of this great initiative.
Making the transition from high school into specialist further education can be challenging. This film highlights the important work Bridge College does to ensure the transition for each student is individualised and tailored to each person’s needs.
In the film Bridge College share their learning from trialling a virtual reality experience to support young people to access transition arrangements.
Jeremy Swinn, Principal said, “Transitioning from college can be an anxious time for many students at Bridge College, and coronavirus restrictions preventing them from accessing their next provision prior to starting has made this experience increasingly daunting. The virtual reality headsets have supported students and their families, by providing opportunities for them to familiarise themselves with their transition destination through a virtual 360 degree experience of the setting.“
The video really highlights the pressures on young people, particularly those with additional and more complex needs.
Amy Carrick, student support coordinator at Bridge College, added: “A lot of our learners have quite complex needs which can make transition a worrying time for them, and their families.
“It’s especially worrying if they’re leaving college and transitioning into social care, which is a whole new world for them. So, I spend a lot of time easing the anxieties of families.”
Jeremy Hoare, Assistant Technologist said, “I’m really pleased we were part of this fantastic project, and we really appreciate the help and guidance we have received along the way. I can’t wait to see how the project progresses and to see how the students will benefit in the long run.”
A huge thanks to the Association of Colleges for funding the virtual headsets. The AOC made this project happen and transitions easier for every student that participates.
Students shine in national art competition
One weekend in September, students, their families and support from Beaumont College travelled to Kensington to celebrate at the Copthorne Tara Hotel for the annual Unique Art Awards. Bradley, Greer, Jordan and Liam were selected as finalists from over two hundred participants.
All four students came away winners from the event with Jordan and Liam picking up Gold and Silver for their photography entries whilst Greer and Bradley picked up Gold and Silver for their entries into the 2D art category.
Greer picked up an additional “overall silver award” from the competition for her entry achieving an overall second place.
Beaumont College are so incredibly proud of their students and the work they produce, it’s been an absolute pleasure to be able to celebrate their achievements in such a special way. Following the competition, Bradley spoke with local paper the Lancaster Guardian about the experience.
Derwen College launches new Nurture programme
Derwen College is delighted to have opened a new refitted and purpose-designed Nurture Centre offering specialist equipment and facilities for students on the College’s newly launched Nurture Programme.
The college has been able to widen its potential cohort to offer a bespoke programme for students with more complex needs and disabilities. Phase 1 of the project has focused on creating a fully accessible teaching space, the installation of a state-of-the-art sensory room, and access to eye-gaze technology.
The teaching space offers an accessible kitchen area where students can develop their home-living skills. Teaching spaces are fitted with full access hoisting, meaning that students’ therapies can be embedded into learning activities. Students with communication difficulties have access to eye-gaze technology which allows them to communicate needs using their eye movements. While the sensory room offers a fully immersive experience, containing a range of specialist sensory equipment that students can control themselves.
September saw the college welcome its first three students to the new Nurture Programme, a bespoke learning course aimed at increasing the students’ independence, communication social skills and wellbeing. Students’ progress is supported by the in-house Physiotherapy, Speech and Language, and Occupational Therapy team, and access to Derwen’s on-site hydrotherapy pool.
A new specialist staff team has been brought together with expertise in profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) including Learning Support Practitioners Fiona Plater, Phil Evans and Sam Talbot, PMLD teacher Charlotte Tompkins.
The programme is overseen by PMLD Lead Bev Simmonds. Bev has over a decade’s experience in teaching adults with PMLD in Shropshire, and has a Masters degree in SPMLD education from Birmingham University. Bev is excited about building a specific provision focused on the needs of PMLD students.
The Nurture Centre is now looking to grow and progress further, with Phase 2 of development, focusing on creating more teaching spaces and accessible outdoor learning areas, with the possibility of provision for up to eight students.
Derwen College Principal Meryl Green said she was very pleased to see students benefiting from the new Nurture programme.
“It is great to have welcomed the first of our Nurture programme students to Derwen. We are proud to be able to provide specialist provision and a dedicated team who are able to support our students with more complex needs. This new initiative meets local need and demonstrates the ongoing evolution of our provision at Derwen. We look forward to seeing the programme grow to support more students in the coming years.”
Landmarks learners compete for best in show
Learners from Landmark’s Apperknowle Farm provision have been learning the skills required to show sheep at their local agricultural show. Learners have been building confidence in working with the sheep on halters and learning how to prepare them correctly for the show. After months of practice and pampering, the learners attended the Penistone Agricultural Show on Saturday 11 September.
Learners prepared their animal days prior, loaded them into transport, prepared them at the showground and participated in sheep classes.
The learners entered the ram class, where they won third place, the ewe lamb class and the ram lamb class also won third.
In addition, learners entered horticultural classes at the show. For this, they learnt how to prepare produce to show standard and set up entries correctly at the show. Our Learners won 1st place on with a set of courgettes, 2nd place on an arrangement of dahlias and 3rd place on the biggest marrow.
A great day was had, with learners coming back with many rosettes, awards, new skills gained and an unforgettable experience gained.
A new academic year and new Sport and Education programme.
It has been a busy summer for Heart of Birmingham Vocational College and Redditch United Football Club as both institutions have been gearing up for the start of the new Sport and Education programme. A new cohort of students have started at the campus with an extra element of sport embedded into their curriculum. The partnership is one of very few of this kind in not just Redditch and Birmingham but the Midlands as a whole. The aim is to give learners on this programme a variety of workplace opportunities and experiences across the Club alongside their studies. The programme is run similarly to the mainstream Redditch United Football & Education programme whereby all lessons are onsite in 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.
David Healey, HBVC Tutor commented “HBVC is immensely proud and excited to be a part of setting up a SEN and Disabilities (SEND) Sport & Education with Redditch United. This partnership will empower our current and future students to prepare themselves for the next stage of adult lives by providing them with many different roles of work experience within the Club whilst also building life skills within the classroom and football pitch. Working with Redditch United allows us to promote and lead on an outstanding collaborative partnership that increase the range of opportunities for our learners and therefore help communities to progress, thrive and grow.’’
Josh Wright, RUFC Academy Tutor & Coach commented “I was instantly hooked when David Healey spoke to me about this idea, it is something now unique to Redditch United and will allow us to provide fantastic opportunities to serve the Redditch and Birmingham community. Having worked with David Healey for several years I believe this programme will be a huge success, we both have similar visions on what a Post 16 programme should entail and I’m sure working together alongside RUFC and HBVC staff we will deliver a quality SEND programme.’’
Principal at QAC receives prestigious West Midlands Leadership Award
Queen Alexandra College (QAC) Principal & CEO, Bev Jessop, has won in the Company Leader of the Year (100+ employees) category at the West Midlands Leadership Awards 2021. Bev Jessop is also a member of the Natspec Board, as director for the West Midlands.
Around 180 people came together at the MacDonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham to celebrate those shortlisted and the winners of this year’s West Midlands Leadership Awards.
The awards showcase and recognise the very best leaders and organisations across the region. Bev provides decisive leadership, steering those around her with confidence but more importantly her ethos is to trust and empower people.
Sam Metcalf, Midlands Editor of TheBusinessDesk.com, commented: “The last 18 months has meant that strong and decisive leadership is more important than ever, and we’ve found throughout this award process that the West Midlands is well served in this respect. Every single person shortlisted today should be very proud of their leadership skills – congratulations to you all.”
New Marketing Work Placement at Sense College Loughborough
Students from the Vocational Pathway at Sense College Loughborough have recently undertaken a new internal work placement with the Marketing team. Following on from the success of the Supported Interns’ blog last year, the students are getting ready to launch the new student blog: The Voice @ College.
The Voice @ College will be run by a small group of students, and will provide a platform to share news and updates from around the College, interviews with staff and students, and information about upcoming events. As well as running the new blog, the students will also be working closely with the College Ambassadors, carrying out student surveys, and publishing a College newsletter.
As part of the Marketing Work Placement Team, students will have the opportunity to develop skills such as copywriting, teamwork, IT skills, accuracy, time management, communication and website management. The team of students have also had the opportunity to express their interest in specific job roles and responsibilities within the team, and have been very enthusiastic while reviewing upcoming Equality, Diversity and Inclusion themes to decide on topics for their blog articles.
So far, the team have spent time designing the front page of the blog, learning to listen to each other and share ideas, while also beginning to understand the new online software which allows them to edit the blog. Now that the students have become familiar with the team and the blog, they’ll be jumping straight in this week to write about the College’s recent MacMillan Coffee Morning, and start planning the first College Newsletter!
Brand new Sensory Room opens at ESPA College
Over the Summer of 2021, ESPA College South Hill was granted official Karten Centre status and saw the successful installation of a brand-new Sensory Room. This was the culmination of many years of careful planning and was made possible by a generous donation from the Karten Network. The Karten Network is a network of IT centres for disabled people. The centres are funded through the Ian Karten Charitable Trust, with the purpose of improving the quality of life and independence of adult people with congenital or acquired physical, cognitive, sensory, learning disabilities or mental health problems. The Karten Centres provide a supportive learning environment together with access to the latest in adaptive computer technology, and are located in a wide range of host organisations.
“The space was created in collaboration with Mike Ayres Design and college staff. The team chose a suitable space in our building, and selected the very best equipment, to meet the complex sensory needs of our students and Social Hub members. The Sensory Room features a large bubble tube; rainbow light bar; tactile cause and effect wall panel; sound and light wall panel; interactive fiber optic unit with 2-meter plastic tails; sensory projector; sparkle cloud; and the room has its own fully integrated audio and visual system. The Sensory Room has been constructed to give the users direct control of the equipment via an iPad or the nine-switch keyboard, and can be used as an interactive learning environment, or a quiet relaxation area.”
Students and Social Hub Members have returned to college for the Autumn term, and have already provided some positive feedback on their new sensory room. ESPA College look forward to sharing this fantastic resource with all of ESPA’s services.
Students enjoy work experience placements at Fairfield Farm College
Students at Fairfield Farm College have been enjoying getting back to a variety of different work experience roles across Wiltshire after the summer break.
Fairfield Farm College works with a wide range of local and national businesses to place students in work experience roles. The Canal & River Trust has been a big advocate of the scheme over the past few years, and a new set of students joined at the start of September. Four out of five students were on their first external work experience placement, and all of them have been enjoying the challenge.
More work experience students started working with Wainwright Quarry and Somerset Earth Science Centre. Fairfield Farm College have a long-standing partnership with Wainwright Quarry, and over the years many students have had the opportunity to take part in supported work experience placements. Our latest group had a great time and enjoyed being able to see the vehicles working at the quarry.
“It’s great to see students working hard in their placements, and after the turbulence of COVID-19, it’s great to be working with our partners again” said Darren Barber, Careers Manager at Fairfield Farm College. “We’ve got some exciting new partners that students will be able to gain experience with over the coming months, and we’re looking forward to seeing students enjoying ‘hands on’ experience” he continued.
Treloar’s Patron and former student David Smith becomes the most decorated British Boccia player of all time
David Smith fell in love with Boccia as a teenager whilst he was at Treloar’s and over the summer won Gold at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
He has competed in the Paralympics since 2008 making his debut in Beijing when he was just 18 years old.
Now 32 and winning in his 4th Paralympic Games, he is a huge advocate for Boccia and a disability sport icon. He successfully defended his individual Boccia title in Tokyo, and now has five medals from four games.
Congratulations to David – what an achievement and a glorious finish! Further details about David’s gold medal winning performance are available on the Boccia UK website.
InFocus – a new chapter for WESC Foundation
Natspec member WESC Foundation has changed its name to InFocus – the vision impairment and complex needs charity.
The move away from WESC Foundation (originally standing for West of England School and College) reflects the broader range of services it offers, which still includes the education provision but also support for young people preparing for their adult life.
The timing coincides with the expansion of InFocus’ residential college accommodation (thanks to a corporate partnership with housing developer Burrington Estates) and the doubling of capacity at Jigsaw – the charity’s daytime social and support service for young adults with vision impairment who live in the community.
A spokesman said:
“We hope that the new name will help more people connect with the breadth of support we offer to young people with vision impairment. We find that many families we speak to just didn’t know about the many post-College services that we offer. As InFocus, we will be doing even more to help everyone understand the challenges faced by young adults living with vision impairment and other, often multiple, disabilities.”
InFocus currently operates a specialist school and college, adult residential care, supported living and Jigsaw. The charity also offers advice and training to VI and SEND professionals and work-related learning (including at its own charity shops, eBay store and outdoor learning centre in East Devon).
Five-day coast to coast cycle raises funds for Deaf students’ enterprise
A pathway learning mentor at Communication Specialist College Doncaster (CSCD) has completed a 215-mile coast to coast challenge this summer for charity.
Kieran James, aged 46 from Maltby, Rotherham, has been working at CSCD for two years, he was joined on his trip by friend John Musgrove who works for the NHS. The duo have raised £1000 to help students at Kieran’s college to develop a new café learning area.
Kieran said: “I can’t believe we’ve done it! We trained hard and the coast to coast route took us five days. The hardest day was definitely day two but once we’d got beyond that we got into a pattern.
“I really wanted to be able to help out students with their plans to turn a building at Doncaster Deaf Trust into a café and enterprise shop.
“Our students all have communication difficulties and thrive from the hands-on learning experience of being in an environment where they learn to interact with more people. They have successfully run a popular enterprise shop, selling items that they have made from a hut for a number of years. They are now working on plans to make a more permanent base and add a café at the Trust to help those students learning barista skills to flourish.
“Cycling is a real passion of mine; I have suffered with my mental health in the past and I did this charity cycle to give something back as I feel that cycling sort of saved my life.
“This is the first time I’ve taken on a challenge like this, and I’m so grateful that people sponsored the two of us. There is still chance to donate and to help the students to develop this project that will make a difference to our students lives for many years to come.”
CSCD offers tailored education and support for students varying in need from those with severe learning disabilities, who need one to one support at all times through to those students who are working towards level 3 vocational qualifications.
The college has all the vocational facilities of a mainstream college including hair salon, garage, sports centre, joinery workshops, with the benefit of small class sizes and communication, pastoral and therapeutic support providing young people, who can’t access a mainstream college, an opportunity to access the courses they want to.
Alexis Johnson, executive principal of Doncaster Deaf Trust said: “Wow! Well done to Kieran and John they have both given up time in their holidays to complete this challenge and are all extremely grateful for their fundraising efforts.
“There is something special about the Trust and it is clear to see this when members of staff feel so passionate about their place of work that they want to take action personally to help.
“As a charity every penny makes a difference to our pupils and students experience of learning and we all work hard to make sure that what they experience is life changing.”share this page: