Natspec Awards 2020: Winners

The Natspec Awards aim recognise and celebrate excellent practice in the specialist further education sector. We want to promote innovation, ensure continuous improvement, and raise standards across the sector. As specialist colleges strive to carry on supporting their learners despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by COVID-19, we aim to celebrate the hard work they do.

2020 is the inaugural year of the Natspec Awards. We were pleased to receive over fifty entries from our membership, eighteen of which were shortlisted across the six categories.

The Chair of the Judging Panel, Nigel Evans, said: “It was a privilege to be part of the panel judging the Natspec Awards 2020. The standard of the submissions was very high and demonstrates the innovation, expertise and creativity within the specialist further education sector.”

2020: Shortlist

A staff member assisting a learner with a virtual reality viewer

Innovative Use of Technology

Derwen College

Support Work apps: The development of a series of unique apps – for tablets and mobile phones which support students with special educational needs and disability into and at work.

National Star College

Find My Voice: The development of personalised Augmented Communication Aids that operate across different communication devices.

WESC Foundation

The APOS Talking Till: The creation of the first audible point of sale till software to support young people with visual impairment in the workplace.

Winner: Derwen College

Our judges said: “This project showed a strong use of partnerships resulting in products that are easy to use, professional in appearance and will be easy to transfer to other employment settings.”

 

A student practising hospitality skills in a hotel room

Pathways into Employment

Camphill Wakefield

Access to Community and Employment: An aspirational pathway into employment embedded into the curriculum: Vocational Profiling; job-matching;  in-work support; job-carving and careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Heart of Birmingham Vocational College

Developing a bespoke accredited qualification: Working alongside an employer using RARPA to develop a bespoke accreditation for a supported internship placement.

Landmarks College

Wayfinder Recruitment: Wayfinder Recruitment Agency and the After-College Aftercare Club, create opportunities for young adults to flourish through supported employment.

Winner: Camphill Wakefield

Our judges said: “There is sustainability through the partnerships and community links. Expectations of employment are embedded into learning, and students are supported into employment.”

 

Student Voice

Coleg Elidyr

Coleg Elidyr’s Student Forum: The Student Forum influence organisational quality improvement planning, supported by a Total Communication environment to ensure the voice of all learners is heard and acted upon.

Eat that Frog CIC

Speak That Frog – Student Council: A student council led, shaped, and implemented by learners with the activities needed to maintain it embedded in learning programmes.

Elfrida Rathbone Camden – Leighton College

ERC student magazine and skills fair: The student voice forum’s design and production of Flip magazine and development of the first student-led skills fair.

Winner: Coleg Elidyr

Our judges said: “We were particularly impressed with your commitment to engaging lower level learners in decision making. All learners have been placed firmly at the heart of decision making at the college.”

 

A staff member and a learner communicate by sign language

Wellbeing and Mental Health

Ambitious College

OT Support to Support Regulation and Wellbeing: Implementation of a universal OT provision, which includes an OT TV channel, bespoke curriculum and resources based on zones of regulation, and weekly yoga sessions.

ESPA College

Transgender: Free to be me – Diversity Group: A group for students that offers one-to-one support, family liaison, advocacy and specialist resources to help all students feel included, understood, heard and challenged, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, race or ability.

Queen Alexandra College

SPARK: LGBTQ+ Alliance: A student group which has initiated an inclusive awareness raising campaign about LGBTQ+ issues across the college, held a residential trip and participated in Birmingham Pride.

Winner: Ambitious College

Our judges said: “This was a really innovative idea which had an impact across the whole college. We welcomed the strong evidence from students and others, particularly about the impact of the approach.”

 

A group of people have a discussion around a table

Inter-disciplinary Working

Bridge College

Integration of learning and therapy through Physiotherapy and Sensory Sport: The design and implementation of fully integrated joint lead curriculum-therapy PMLD sessions that are embedded in the college weekly timetable.

National Star College

Right Time, Right Place: The development of the Personalised Learning Co-ordinator Tutor role that supports a consistent approach and a holistic programme across the classroom in both residential and community contexts.

RNIB College Loughborough

Embedding Speech and Language Therapy into the enterprise curriculum: The full integration of the SALT provision into the curriculum team. Joint working between teaching staff and speech and language therapists improves communication in working environments including external work placements and supported internships.

Winner: National Star College

Our judges said: The project has made great progress for learners, staff, related therapy professionals, parents, community links and progression for the learners using RARPA.

 

Two women work together looking at a laptop

Partnership Working

Derwen College

A Sporting Success at Derwen: Through partnership with a range of sports clubs that includes tennis, cricket, water sports and football, students are introduced to community activity whilst at college and in their home area.

Link19 College

KASBAH: A partnership between the college and a supported housing charity that provides opportunities for students to learn transferable employability retail skills in the charity shop and also raises awareness in the community of young people with additional learning needs.

Wargrave House LEAP College

Post 16 and Friends of Lyme and Wood Community Project: A collaboration between the college and community groups that provides a range of work experience opportunities including working with a local Nursery to support forest schooling, setting up a community allotment, work in a pop-up cafe in the park and developing and designing a sensory garden.

Winner: Wargrave House LEAP College

Our judges said: “Students are integral to the community benefit of maintenance and development of park land. Skills development is built into opportunities which are linked to learning goals and outcomes.”

Announcing the shortlist for the 2020 Natspec Awards

The Natspec Awards aim to recognise and celebrate excellent practice in the specialist further education sector. We want to promote innovation, continuous improvement, and raise standards across the sector. As specialist colleges strive to carry on supporting their learners despite the uncertainties and challenges presented by COVID-19, we hope to celebrate the hard work they do.

Today, we are pleased to announce the shortlisted entries for the awards.

2020 is the inaugural year of the awards, recognising six areas of practice where specialist providers are doing amazing and incredible things. Shortlisted entries will now go forward to be considered by an independent panel of experts chaired by Nigel Evans former lead HMI for High Needs.

Initially, the awards were to be presented at Natspec’s National Conference in May. This is, unfortunately, no longer possible. But we are determined to celebrate this year’s awards winners and have therefore decided to postpone the announcement on winners to the 8 October, at the Principals’ Forum. This will give us a chance to present the awards the way we want to, and celebrate the specialist sector amongst friends.

Clare Howard, Natspec’s Chief Executive said:

“At Natspec we greatly value the skills and talents of staff working in the specialist further education sector. Their work deserves to be recognised and celebrated and the Natspec Awards provide the perfect opportunity to do this.

In this first year of the Natspec Awards we were delighted to receive over 50 entries from members. The entries covered a great variety of work illustrating the diverse and innovative practice across the specialist further education sector.

Overall, the standard of entries was high, and some difficult decisions had to be made when finalising the shortlists.

I am pleased to announce the shortlisted entries for each award category. Many congratulations to all who have made to the shortlists and many thanks to everyone who sent in entries this year.”

The shortlist

Innovative Use of Technology

A staff member assisting a learner with a virtual reality viewer

Derwen College

Support Work apps: The development of a series of unique ‘apps’ – for tablets and mobile phones which support students with special educational needs and disability into and at work.

National Star College

Find My Voice: The development of personalised Augmented Communication Aids that operate across different communication devices.

WESC Foundation

The APOS Talking Till: The creation of the first audible point of sale till software to support young people with visual impairment in the workplace.

Pathways into Employment

A student practising hospitality skills in a hotel room

Camphill Wakefield

Access to Community and Employment: An aspirational pathway into employment embedded  into the curriculum: Vocational Profiling; job-matching;  in-work support; job-carving and careers education, information, advice and guidance.

Heart of Birmingham Vocational College

Developing a bespoke accredited qualification: Working alongside an employer using Rarpa to develop a bespoke accreditation for a supported internship placement.

Landmarks College

Wayfinder Recruitment: Wayfinder Recruitment Agency and the After-College Aftercare Club, create opportunities for young adults to flourish through supported employment.

Student Voice

Two students giving a presentation at the student voice parliament

Coleg Elidyr

Coleg Elidyr’s Student Forum: The Student Forum influence organisational quality improvement planning, supported by a Total Communication environment to ensure the voice of all learners is heard and acted upon.

Eat that Frog CIC

Speak That Frog – Student Council: A student council led, shaped, and implemented by learners with the activities needed to maintain it embedded in learning programmes.

Elfrida Rathbone Camden – Leighton College

ERC student magazine and skills fair: The student voice forum’s design and production of Flip magazine and development of the first student-led skills fair.

Wellbeing and Mental Health

A staff member and a learner communicate by sign language

Ambitious College

OT Support to Support Regulation and Wellbeing: Implementation of a universal OT provision, which includes an OT TV channel, bespoke curriculum and resources based on zones of regulation, and weekly yoga sessions.

ESPA College

Transgender: Free to be me – Diversity Group: A group for students that offers one to one support, family liaison, advocacy and specialist resources to help all students feel included, understood, heard and challenged; regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, faith, race or ability.

Queen Alexandra College

SPARK: LGBTQ+ Alliance: A student group which has initiated an inclusive awareness raising campaign about LGBTQ+ issues across the college, held a residential trip and participated in Birmingham Pride.

Inter-disciplinary working

A group of people have a discussion around a table

Bridge College

Integration of learning and therapy through Physiotherapy and Sensory Sport: The design and implementation of fully integrated joint lead curriculum-therapy PMLD sessions that are embedded in the college weekly timetable.

National Star College

Right Time, Right Place: The development of the Personalised Learning Co-ordinator Tutor role that supports a consistent approach, and a holistic programme across the classroom in both residential and community contexts.

RNIB College Loughborough

Embedding Speech and Language Therapy into the enterprise curriculum: The full integration of the SALT provision into the curriculum team.  Joint working between teaching staff and speech and language therapists improve communication in working environments including external work placements and supported internships.

Partnership working

Two women work together looking at a laptop

Derwen College

A Sporting Success at Derwen: Through partnership with a range of sports clubs that includes tennis, cricket, water sports and football, students are introduced to community activity whilst at college and in home area.

Link19 College

KASBAH: A partnership between the college and a supported housing charity that provides opportunities for students to learn transferable employability retail skills in the charity shop and, raise awareness in the community of young people with additional learning needs.

Wargrave House LEAP College

Post 16 and Friends of Lyme and Wood Community Project: A collaboration between the college and community groups that provides a range of work experience opportunities including working with a local Nursery to support forest schooling, setting up a community allotment, work in a pop-up cafe in the park and developing and designing  a sensory garden.

Applications open for new Natspec Awards

Applications for the new Natspec Awards open today! Open to any specialist FE provider that is a member of Natspec, the awards will shine a light on innovative practice in the sector.

Announcing the launch of the Natspec Awards website, Clare Howard Natspec CEO said:

“The new Natspec Awards are a great opportunity to recognise the wealth of experience and expertise that exists in the specialist education sector. Natspec members work hard to provide education and training that enables young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities achieve their goals.  As the membership body for specialist colleges, Natspec wants to recognise, celebrate and promote this important work.

I am delighted to announce that applications for the new Natspec Awards are now open and I encourage Natspec members to apply.”

The awards focus on six specific areas of practice:

  • Innovative use of technology
  • Creating successful pathways into employment
  • Effective capturing and use of student voice
  • Effective wellbeing support or mental health initiative
  • Effective inter-disciplinary working
  • Partnership-working to maximise opportunities/outcomes for students

The winners will be chosen by an independent panel of experts and announced at the Natspec National Conference in May 2020. Nigel Evans former lead HMI for high needs provision and chair of the judges panel commented:

“I am very excited about being involved in the Natspec awards; Natspec has always been at the forefront of encouraging and supporting the best educational practice for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities, and these awards are a fantastic way of celebrating innovation and excellence in specialist further education.”

Further information on the Natspec Awards can be found on the Natspec Awards website.

Applications are open until 19 February 2020.