CfESEND blog: being what you want to see... at Derby College Group

Blog by Sarah Le-Good, Head of Inclusion and CfESEND Project Lead at Derby College Group, for the Centres for Excellence in SEND programme.


Kyla – My journey from student to educational support worker at DCG!

Bene Willis and the Pathways Teams at Derby College Group (DCG) work hard to individualise our curriculum offer, work from at attribute and aspiration base and unlock the potential in our students.

Below Bene describes the progress Kyla has made:

Kyla started her FE journey at Derby College aged 16, having left school with a determined aspiration to work but no qualifications. She joined Pathway to Working Life and in her personalised curriculum offer initially concentrated on confidence, English and maths. The following year Kyla returned to Derby College to study Level One Child Care after a short time away from education having a child of her own. With a clear focus on moving into employment, Kyla successfully completed the Work Ready Pathway, two days in work placement and one day in college. Her placements in SureStart and an extended placement and interview supporting students in Derby College’s Inclusion Curriculum, Pathway to Independence. These ensured by the time Kyla left college she was work ready.  

During this year she was supported to prepare and apply for an apprenticeship role in a school or college as a Teaching Assistant. After successfully applying for an Educational Support Worker (ESW) position at Derby College, Kyla made a speedy and smooth transition between roles from being our student to a staff member. This is a difficult thing for anyone starting their career – moving into supporting young people where they had previously been a peer. Focussed work through Kyla’s differentiated curriculum, personal tutoring and demonstration through staff role modelling ensured Kayla was ready to flourish.

As an apprentice, Kyla made such good progress that she was nominated for the D2N2 Public Sector Apprentice of the Year award. She has recently completed her Level 2 apprenticeship and secured a permanent post in the Inclusion team at the College.

Kyla’s enthusiasm continues: “I love my job – supporting students who have learning disabilities or difficulties to help them gain confidence and improve their independent living skills. I have grown in confidence working at the College. It is great to see the students’ progress and I love being able to support them just as I have been helped both as a student and an apprentice.”

Our ability to adjust our offer and create something bespoke for Kyla is the heart of our Centre for Excellence in SEND curriculum development intention. We do and will continue to support other providers to use curriculum flexibility and offer study programme guidance to create solutions and unlock employment options!

Kyla’s success highlights the positive impact of effective preparation for adulthood and the importance of inclusive employment. She is now a fantastic role model for other young people with learning difficulties, demonstrating that young people with a range of inclusion needs can progress into independence and employment. Kyla is a wonderful role model dispelling the myth that this is an impossible dream!

The magical impact for young people supporting other young people, feeding aspirations and challenging us all to stretch our inclusionist brains is by far the proudest factor of the job I do and the impact our sector has!For more information on curriculumn development and study programme guidance or to share practice email us at:

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