CfESEND blog: co-creating personalised curriculum 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.


Co-creating Personalised Curriculum

There are lots of great examples of excellent personalised curriculum practice across our sector. Sadly, these are still examples and not always the established norm.

Recently we have worked with several learners and staff to create a mini-series of curriculum flexibility case studies. In this piece I wanted to share our reflections and experiences.

More than sharing reflections I’d like to ask you, as providers, to reflect too.

If we can create a personalised magical curriculum for our learners, whether the intention is to provide an enhanced transition year to ensure success before a “traditional” study programme, or to create a “finishing” year for a more complex student before they leave for a meaningful adult life, or anything in-between. Why wouldn’t we?

As a provider we are still on our journey with CEIAG teams, Inclusion Team, Teaching and Assessment teams and everyone else in the eco system surrounding our students. For our teams we try to provide robust and meaningful induction, and ongoing training and development around our approach to inclusion. Not only for those with SEN but for every other inclusion need. As a provider we are steadily growing our team of “Inclusionists”. Our deliberate use of positive, attribute-based language rather than the “additional” or “extra” support norms is changing staff and students understanding of anticipating needs in all we do.

Significantly, this enables discussions with students and their wider circle of support around emerging independence, progression planning and making ready for the world of work. My teams and I have long reflected that emerging self-management and maturity in the students we work with are some of the greatest coincidental outcomes we get to celebrate while working in post-16 provision.

Derby College CfESEND Ahmad case study

During the making of the film case studies with Hope, Ahmad and Will, the project team were incredibly proud of the students for taking risks and being involved. Most significantly, each of them was able to explain what their personalised experience had enabled them to do. Whether it was aspiring to work in their chosen industry after a challenging time and often not attending school, applying to University or making a big plan for a long-term career, the fundamental impact of their time studying with us and the confidence and self-management unlocked by co-creating their curriculum was magical!

Being the ETF’s Centre for Excellence in SEND focusing on Curriculum has given us a great opportunity to reflect, revive our aspirations and relish the impact that we have had for our students and more recently with the providers who are working alongside us.

  • “I have taken part in Design Thinking Training @DCG, a dynamic approach to curriculum design and addressing the many issues we face in FE. It’s given me the skills and confidence to run sessions with my own staff team and use a collaborative and solution focused approach to face our challenges. “
  • “The one to one support has given me a critical and supportive friend to explore, compare and address the many questions which I have. As I am new in post, I really appreciate and value the time and support and sincerely hope that it will continue.”

Watch this space – the “Curriculum Flexibility” films will be released by the ETF in the Spring.

To book Curriculum Design Sessions, Leadership discussions and discuss developing activities together to share practice email us at:

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