Natspec Network: July Highlights

We’d like to end the term and start the summer break with our last Natspec Network until term resumes in September. We’re pleased to be ending the academic year on a high and have several great news stories collected from the sector and Natspec colleges.

In today’s article, you’ll find:

  • Natspec Student Stories | Leaver Success and Accomplishments
  • Ofsted Reports | Foxes Academy and Heart of Birmingham Vocational College
  • Ruskin Mill Trust | Run of the mill magazine
  • Recode London | Orchard Hill College
  • Events

Natspec Student Stories and Accomplishments

In our latest Natspec News email, we highlighted several student accomplishments from Natspec colleges over the last year. We’re pleased to hear about the significant milestones and achievements learners are making throughout their time at Natspec colleges and the impact it’s having on their lives post-FE.

We’ve spotlighted learners in our student success stories section and encourage all to celebrate these fantastic accomplishments.

Ofsted Reports | Foxes Academy and Heart of Birmingham Vocational College

Students with SEND in an art lesson at Heart of Birmingham Vocational College
Students in an art lesson

We’re pleased to hear that Heart of Birmingham Vocational College has received a ‘Good’ from Ofsted. The news comes as a great close to the academic year and shines a light on the hard work that Heart of Birmingham Vocational College employees, tutors, support workers and more have put in to create excellent outcomes for learners.

Students from Foxes Academy
Foxes academy have had a fantastic year!

In addition, Foxes Academy has ended the term on several highs as they achieve a third consecutive ‘outstanding’ grade in all areas of college life from Ofsted. They are also 2018 winners of the TES Overall FE provider of the year and Specialist provider of the Year awards, spotlighting the incredible work that staff, employers, learners have made to the college. Read more.

Congratulations to both Heart of Birmingham Vocational College and Foxes Academy!

Ruskin Mill Trust | Run of the Mill Magazine

Ruskin Mill Trust has announced the launch of their latest project: Run of the Mill Magazine. The idea was created and named by students from Ruskin Mill Trust colleges and will encompass extraordinary stories that showcase student’s journeys through college and life.

Run of the Mill Magazine by Ruskin Mill Trust

The magazine will feature stories that spotlight the remarkable in the seemingly ordinary and highlights accomplishments in a memorable way.

Read more.

Recode London | Orchard Hill College

Orchard Hill College students
Students from Orchard Hill College

Students from Orchard Hill College took part in Recode London at The Workshop in Lambeth. The initiative is run by the Mayor of London, the LEGO® Group and Institute of Imagination.

Students rose to the challenge set by Recode London to build eco-friendly vehicles to tackle the capital’s air pollution. They put their coding and building skills into practice and created a range of vehicles out of Lego and that were activated via ipads. Students then got to parade their pollution busting automobiles along a specially designed street built entirely out of Lego.

This is the first time that students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) have taken part in the sessions and The Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Matthew Ryder said: “Recode London is a wonderful way for young Londoners to put their imaginations to the test, have fun and solve some of the capital’s problems through coding. All students deserve the opportunity to develop these skills, and we had some great ideas coming out of the session which were then translated into coded Lego constructions – excellent work all round!”

David Pallash from Lego Education was in attendance and students were excited to show him how well their designs had come together and how fast their vehicles could go!

John Prior, Executive Head at Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust, commented: “What an incredible initiative. Students were really engaged and have come up with some very creative designs. I have also been very impressed by their coding skills, we have seen everything from voice-activated cars to vehicles with touch sensors. Great teamwork from all involved.”


Post-16 specialist education: essential information for new providers

Have you recently opened a new education provision for post-16 or post-19 students with SEND? Or are you thinking of opening a new specialist post-16 institution, funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency?

Entering the FE sector is not straightforward: attend this event to find out common pitfalls and hear what others have learnt about an effective transition, curriculum planning, costings, staffing, reporting, contracts, partnerships and more

“I never realised how much I didn’t know about specialist FE provision – I’ve learnt so much” – Sarah Jones, Willow Tree Centre

“Becoming a college changed our whole perspective and culture.” – Therese Timberlake, ROC College; Part of United Response, Devon

26 September | Manchester | Book here 

29 November | London | Book here.

TechAbility conference 2018

TechAbility presents a conference for all who wish to improve and expand Assistive Technology provision for their learners. This one-day conference is focussed on increasing skills and knowledge in assessment and AT practice across the FE sector.  Designed to enable leaders, managers and practitioners to choose the right solutions for learners, helping them to access the curriculum or workplace to deliver positive education and training outcomes.

16 October | Birmingham | Learn more and book your place

Natspec Network: June Highlights

Natspec Network is a monthly round up of all the great news stories happening in the FE sector, focussing on the accomplishments and success of providers that work with learners with SEND.

As we begin to near the end of the academic calendar, many Natspec colleges and stakeholders are running their end-of-year summer initiatives, whether that’s awareness weeks, projects and services to assist in learner development and more. Here are a few of the highlights from this month.

In this article, we’ll be looking at:

  • Hereward College; who have opened an employment hub to support people with disabilities and launched a citywide campaign to encourage considerate parking
  • Orpheus Centre; who ran a successful health and wellbeing campaign
  • Disabled Living; Kidz to Adultz Wales and West exhibition
  • Karten Network Summer 2018 newsletter
Hereward College | Employment Hub and Pavement Parking campaign

A new employment hub has been launched to help young people with disabilities gain employment in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Representatives from around 60 businesses, schools and local authorities attended the launch event to hear more about its work with employers to bridge the disability employment gap.

The Employment Hub at Hereward College will help young people to source work placements, skills training, support in the workplace, money management advice and training, benefit advice and travel training.

It will also support employers with disability awareness training, analysing and adapting job roles and promoting good employment practice.

The employment hub workers standing outside their building
The employment hub team

Citywide pavement parking campaign launched at Hereward College

Students at Hereward College officially launched a citywide poster campaign at an event attended by local councillors, local authority representatives and sponsors.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Linda Bigham presented awards to the competition winners whose posters will be displayed in public places across the city, with the aim of making people think twice before parking their cars inconsiderately.

Hereward is a college for young people with disabilities and additional needs, which provides its learners with a curriculum that focuses on skills for independent living and employment.

A group of students from the college decided to run a competition to encourage young people and children to design a poster highlighting the difficulties that pedestrians have when motorists park on the pavement without leaving room for wheelchair users and people using pushchairs.

The Hereward College pavement parking steering group chose the three winners from local schools and colleges.

The students said as part of their presentation:

“Inconsiderate parking is a city-wide problem and we want this campaign to help raise awareness, and make people think about the impact of parking their car on the pavements.

“It’s a problem that affects everyone – from blind people, people who use wheelchairs, parents pushing buggies or anyone who just wants to walk from A to B safely.”

Deputy Lord Mayor, Linda Bigham said:

“It’s a problem that affects so many people that I know, whether they are a wheelchair user or have a pushchair. Through working on this campaign, the Hereward students have developed democratic life skills and demonstrated the benefits of collective action. They can now see the positive impact this will have on the lives of Coventry people.”

The students have also produced two videos about the issue.

Students holding their artwork for the pavement parking campaign
Students part of the pavement parking campaign


The Orpheus Centre | Wellbeing Week

“People with learning disabilities demonstrate the complete spectrum of mental health difficulties, with higher prevalence than found in those without learning disabilities.”

(Source: Mental Health Nursing of Adults with Learning Disabilities)

The promotion of positive mental wellbeing is currently being reviewed in education as a result of the recent publication of the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper, with calling out for a ‘Happiness Ofsted’, it’s certainly a developing and exciting area of educational reform.

Remaining truthful to our core values of quality, inclusion and innovation, The Orpheus Centre’s Learning Team decided to put on a Wellbeing Week that would aid the development of positive wellbeing strategies for all of our learners.  In an exciting departure from our usual ‘produce-a-show-in-a-week’ intensive weeks, we chose to develop learning programmes for a ‘non-intensive week’ which would include internal and external practitioners/therapists delivering sessions on: mindfulness, yoga, aromatherapy, healthy cooking, cinema therapy, sound baths, art & music therapy, and a whole range of other activities.  These activities exposed learners to opportunities they may not have otherwise have experienced, so that these could be reflected upon and, if necessary, built into individual Wellbeing Plans.

The week culminated with a Wellbeing Fair to showcase, promote and celebrate a range of resources and techniques which had developed physical and mental health within our learners.

Find out more about the Orpheus Wellbeing week by watching the videos below or emailing

Video 1

Visit from a PAT Dog (Pets As Therapy) – Learning about how pets can be therapeutic.

Alive With Flavour – Healthy breakfast foods and snacks.

Laughter Therapy – Laughing as stress relief.

Supporting Good Listening – How to support others and be a good listener.

Craft Workshop – Creating artefacts to promote concentration and wellbeing.

Meditation Sessions – Promoting quiet time with thoughts.

Party Dance – Using dance movements to promote happiness.

Video 2

Mindfulness – With experienced practitioner Teresa Gain.

Vegetable Gardening – Exploring how gardening skills can promote wellbeing.

Sports – Taking part in team activities and building relationships through physical activities.

Sound Bath – Exploring sound as a sensory, healing practice.

Hand Massage – Learning how to give a hand massage which relaxes and reduces anxiety.

Aromatherapy – How essential oils can promote health and wellbeing.

Pilates – Developing core strength and physical flexibility.

Video 3

Singing & Movement – Promoting wellbeing through singing as a group.

Love Rocks – Creating art on rock-canvases and sharing them with the world.

Mindful Movement – Learning how nature can inspire movement and dance.

Crochet & Pom Pom Making – Using knitting techniques to focus attention and create artefacts.

Art Therapy – Self-expression through artistic techniques.

Cinema Therapy – Self-reflection and connection as a result of film viewing and discussions.


Kids to Adultz Wales & West

The biggest free exhibition for people with disabilities is taking place in Bristol this year and is open to children and young adults, families and professional carers. The event will be filled with exhibitors to provide advice and guidance on equipment, products, funding, services and more. In addition, professional guardians, carers and tutors can access free accredited CPD seminars on the day covering a range of issues and topics on SEND legislation, best practise and guidance.

The event will be taking place on Thursday 5th July 2018 from 9am – 4.30pm.

Location: Thornbury Leisure Centre, Bristol, BS35 3JB

Kidz to Adultz Wales and West leaflet for exhibition
Kidz to Adultz Wales and West poster


Karten Network Summer 2018 newsletter

The Karten Network supports organisations that work with people with disabilities who use assistive technology to communicate. The Ian Karten Charitable Trust is a grant-making trust that devotes substantial resources to establishing computer-aided vocational training, education and communication (CTEC Centres) to help transform the lives of disabled people. They have recently shared their Summer 2018 newsletter highlighting stories, technology updates and information and case studies from the past few months.

You can read the entire newsletter here.