24 June 2019

Derby College Group (DCG) has been chosen as one of three Centres for Excellence in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) under a new national programme.
DCG will work alongside The Education and Training Foundation (ETF), City College Norwich and Weston College on the Department for Education (DfE) funded programme.
DCG’s focus will be on how to ensure that a college curriculum always has a clear purpose so that SEND learners have the potential to achieve their aspirations.
Aspects under discussion will include building in flexibility across the curriculum to ensure inclusivity for students; providing an environment that is conducive to learning for all; adapting the application and enrolment process to reduce anxieties; and developing communications to ensure the student voice is heard.
There will also be a strong focus on sharing good practice to increasing employability skills and job prospects for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Other work across the UK will focus on learners integrating into local communities and supporting college staff.
Leaders at DCG will advise and share good practice with leaders, manager and practitioners at other colleges through a leadership hub with three sessions so far confirmed: Get to know the CEO - one to one sessions on July 4; a webinar on August 29 and a workshop in Derby on October 3.
Mandie Stravino, Chief Executive Officer at Derby College Group, said: “Inclusion is at the heart of everything we do at Derby College Group and I am delighted that the work we have already developed will now be shared with FE and school colleagues through this programme.
“We will be sharing how we ensure that all students benefit from our high-quality curriculum and have built in capacity amongst our creative leadership and teaching teams to ensure we 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.”
David Russell, Chief Executive of the Education and Training Foundation, added: “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.”
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.
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. https://send.excellencegateway.org.uk/