Natspec Network: September highlights

A monthly roundup of stories from the specialist sector

Natspec Network: September highlights

3rd October 2018

Firstly, welcome back to the first month of the new academic year to college staff and learners; old and new. We hope you had a refreshing break and have settled in well to college life. We have plenty of great news from the sector, including student achievements, college news and new training and events to look out for.

In today’s article you’ll find:

  • PossABILITY performance: disabilities and employment
  • Doncaster Deaf Trust opens new classroom with support from local businesses
  • Natspec college students embark on new journeys
  • Key facts in SEND FE
  • Colleges Week 2018 #loveourcolleges
  • Upcoming events for SEND professionals

PossABILITY performance: disabilities and employment

Orpheus centre is running a special screening of a fantastic new documentary by Abigail Clay, about people with Down’s Syndrome in employment.

Abigail’s sister Claire, who presents the film, is a former Orpheus student.

The screening will take place at the Orpheus Centre, in Godstone, on Wednesday 10th October 2018 at 5.30pm

This will provide a fantastic opportunity for local businesses and services to get together to discuss opportunities for people with learning disabilities in the workplace.

The 27-minute film will be followed by a brief panel discussion featuring the director, some of the stars of the film and representatives from Orpheus.

You can watch the trailer for the film here.

A glass of wine and canapés will be provided.

To register for your free ticket please visit our website.

Doncaster Deaf Trust opens new classroom with support from local businesses

Doncaster Deaf Trust has opened a new classroom with the help of businesses from a local retail outlet. Lakeside Village, a shopping outlet with 45 stores in its centre donated tables and chairs, enabling the trust to offer additional lessons and better support students.

Read the full story here.

Natspec college students embark on new journeys

September is an important month for students at specialist colleges; old, existing and new. Former students are moving onto their next chapter, whether that’s transitioning to independent living or moving onto further education. Existing students are coming back to college and setting goals and achieving milestones in their learning and development while new students encounter a new environment altogether. Each of these transitions are incredibly important stages for learners to go through as they meet new people and settle in to new places.

It is positive to see learners express their desire to continue to learn and develop academically. For example, former New College Worcester pupils: Zoe, Elle and Sarah have performed phenomenally in their A-levels and have ventured off to university to continue their formal education.

Zoe, student from NCW
Elle and Sarah from NCW
 Elle and Sarah







However, formal education is only one option of many for moving on to bigger and better things, for many of our learners, transitioning to independent living is a challenging yet fruitful phase – read more about students moving on to a new chapter of their lives.

Key facts in SEND FE

Natspec has collated the latest data on post-16 specialist further education and presented them in this latest blog.

To keep up to date with information about SEND legislation, trends, news, events and more, subscribe to our newsletter.

Colleges Week 2018 #LoveOurColleges

From Monday 15 – Friday 19 October 2018, Natspec will be participating in #LoveOurColleges week. The week is about celebrating the contributions colleges and college staff make to the lives of learners in the country and how they benefit their local communities. Colleges are central in the English education system and educate and train 2.2 million people every year.

Love our colleges logo

As a specialist provider, funding cuts and under-resourced facilities have left colleges feeling unsupported and unheard as the costly requirements for addressing the needs of each and every individual learner rises and becomes complex.

This is why we believe that #LoveOurColleges week is an excellent opportunity for Natspec colleges to highlight the best of themselves, whether that’s brilliant tutors, events or services, classes or happy students and outcomes. Spotlight the people who uphold the meaning of ‘love your colleges’ and show the importance of fair funding and consideration for colleges everywhere.

Please visit for more guidance and information.

You can also find a full list of activities you can do to support the campaign here. 

You can find resources like the official logo, infographics and more to support your campaign here.

Upcoming events

TechAbility conference

Do some of your students with SEND struggle to access the curriculum using traditional technology? Do you want to make learning accessible to everyone, without buying expensive equipment or software?

Assistive Technology isn’t just about a different mouse or keyboard, it involves the use of technology to improve access to all areas of learning.

TechAbility 2018 will show you how to use technology to make sure learners have the access they need. Get your questions answered and discover innovative ways to improve assistive technology in your organisation. You will have an exclusive chance to hear from leaders in the sector about best practice and meeting the expectations Ofsted has in this area.

We have an outstanding range of experts and specialists who will demonstrate the benefits of technologies such as virtual reality, coding for SEND, access to iPads, technology use in exams, voice control and more.

The keynote will be delivered by Alistair McNaught, subject specialist at Jisc. He will be “Peeling back the layers of accessible practice”; discussing what you need to do to ensure all learners have access, not just those identified as needing support. At the end of the day a panel of leaders and experts in the sector will answer your questions on how to improve your approach to AT across your organisation.

16 October | West Midlands

Book your place

Supported internships and South West Network

An interactive workshop delivered through Natspec Transform for organisations who are planning to introduce supported internships or improve or expand their existing provision. This workshop will:

  • introduce you to a range of supported internship models
  • explore planning considerations such as staffing, employer engagement, partnership-working and recruitment of learners
  • provide you with examples of effective practice
  • help you review and improve existing provision
  • give you the opportunity to work together to tackle specific challenges

Book your place | 7th November | Leeds

Book your place | 5th December | London

Meanwhile, there is a further opportunity to discuss Supported Internships at the South West Autumn Network, open to all FE providers, on 29 October. Book your place.

Essential SEND Managers Programme

The Education and Training foundation, in partnership with National Star College and The Leadership Centre are launching an innovative new Essential SEND Managers Programme. This programme will provide bespoke leadership skills and specific SEND knowledge to new or existing SEND managers from general and specialist further education, training and offender learning.  The programme will offer two full days of training in Systems Leadership and two full days of training in SEND knowledge. Delegates will have the option of attending either or both programmes, dependent on individual requirements.

For full details, see the attached flyer.

The Leadership module – BOOK NOW 19 November and 15 January: London, or 23 January and 6 March, Birmingham

SEND Knowledge Module – Maximising Potential – BOOK NOW3 and 4 December, London, or 26 and 27 February, Cheltenham

Coming soon

Learning Support Assistant workshop

This workshop is an interactive session for learning support managers or managers of SEND provision in the FE sector. If you already manage learning support assistants (LSAs) and are ready to review and maximise the effectiveness of this resource in a collaborative and positive way, then this workshop is for you.

Uniquely, managers are asked to bring along an LSA to the training, ensuring that collaborative practice is at the heart of their approach from the start.

This workshop will be available later this term as an external training session or can be delivered in-house for an individual provider and any partners they wish to involve. Register your interest in an external training session in your region or to request in-house training.