The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has announced three Centres for Excellence in SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in England as part of a Department for Education (DfE) funded national programme.
The Centres will each concentrate on one of three key practical themes for the programme:
- City College Norwich will focus on community – how to ensure that learners with SEND are participating in their local communities, including creating pathways to employment.
- Derby College will focus on curriculum – how to ensure that the curriculum always has a clear purpose so that learners with SEND have potential to achieve their aspirations.
- Weston College will focus on people – how to ensure organisations create truly inclusive cultures, motivating staff to engage in continued professional development with an emphasis on supporting learners with mental, social and emotional needs.
The three distinct Centres will provide expert support for leaders, managers and practitioners who wish to put learners with SEND at the centre of their organisation, resulting in learners achieving the outcomes they aspire to. Each Centre will host a SEND Strategic Leadership Hub to provide leadership support to at least 15 leaders from a diverse range of providers across England’s Further Education (FE) and Training sector. This will support 120 managers and/or practitioners within the communities of practice.
The aims and impact of the programme are to:
- Increase the engagement of senior leaders across the sector in strategic discussions about SEND. This will explore how the needs of learners with SEND feature in their strategic plans for organisational growth, in meeting local community needs and delivering high quality learning. An important feature will include setting the culture of their organisations and building capacity in their people.
- Develop and disseminate effective practice for use in organisation strategies. This will include for instance creating pathways to employment, curriculum co-creation and promoting staff and learner wellbeing.
- Increase the connection between the strategic direction of an organisation and the delivery of teaching and learning for learners with SEND.
Nadhim Zahawi MP, Children and Families Minister, said: “My ambition for every young person is that they get a world class education that allows them to reach their full potential. That’s why we are putting £1.2 million into the Education and Training Foundation so that we can help support inclusion in further education, design curriculum and help those with special educational needs into work.
“This investment will help young people with special educational needs strive toward their ambitions, by making sure education is designed with the needs of students in mind.”
David Russell, Chief Executive of the ETF, said: “Further education has an essential role to play in ensuring every learner in our country has the maximum opportunity to make the most of their talents, skills and ambitions. It is vital therefore that we place more focus, thought and activity on how we can better support our learners with SEND which is why this new programme is needed.
“We are pleased to be working on this programme with the three chosen Centres, on behalf of Department for Education and we look forward to supporting leaders, teachers and trainers across the whole sector on making this a success.”
Corrienne Peasgood, Principal at City College Norwich, said: “Colleges are uniquely placed to empower students with SEND through strong links with employers and our local communities.
“There is a wealth of innovative partnerships and approaches in FE that enrich learning, enhance progression, and enable students with SEND to make a visible and valued contribution in their communities.
“We are excited by this opportunity to act as a hub for good practice and to share learning from our college’s journey in this important area of SEND practice in FE.”
Mandie Stravino, Chief Executive Officer at Derby College Group, said: “Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do at Derby College Group, we ensure that all students benefit from our high-quality curriculum. We are fortunate to have creative leadership and teaching teams that can adapt our curriculum offer to meet whatever individual needs our students have.
“We are therefore incredibly proud to be selected as a Centre for Excellence in SEND by the ETF – particularly during these challenging times when peer support and sharing good practice is even more important. Working together to share our progress and lessons learned to ultimately impact on the lives not only of students but those who work tirelessly to teach and support them can only result in a positive impact.”
Dr Paul Phillips, CBE Principal and Chief Executive at Weston College, said: “Weston College are thrilled and excited to be delivering within the new Centre for Excellence in SEND, focussing on people, creating a highly motivated and talented workforce where inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. Working with the ETF and providers we are poised to embark upon a journey of impact, entrepreneurship and inclusion for the SEND agenda, ensuring it is led from the top of the organisation.”
For more information on participating with the Centres for Excellence in SEND programme can be found on the SEND area of the ETF’s Excellence Gateway.