CfESEND blog: Communities of Practice 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.

Derby College Group (DCG) has been leading several Communities of Practice (CoP) with a focus on working with the post-16 sector to develop innovative and inclusive curriculum offers for students with SEND.

So far, the feedback has been excellent, we have been continually impressed by the open and brave discussions that our CoP members have had.

We set some clear expectations around:

Our approach

  • enabling everyone!

Our ethos

  • from Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) to inclusion 
  • learning and developing together; supporting each other to support
  • our learners, apprentices and wider learning communities

Our ground rules

  • we share our real challenges and celebrations
  • we collaborate freely and respect each other’s starting point
  • we are honest, relaxed and passionate
  • we are a safe, closed group

Feedback from our 2-day Appreciative Inquiry session in 2019 has reinforced our belief that leaders, managers and practitioners have a wealth of skills, knowledge and behaviours that when harnessed effect significant change in their organisation, and across our wider sector.

We are keen to engage in and maintain this research-based approach to peer support and encourage all participants to sign up to becoming an “inclusionist” and pledge to support those who need it!

The Communities have 3 distinct themes

  • anticipating inclusion needs in all elements of transition, interviewing and starting in a new post-16 provision
  • adapting curriculum design to meet needs
  • adjusting curriculum delivery to meet inclusion needs

All activities are linked with our Leadership Hub, led by our CEO Mandie Stravino, and are co-designed with participants to meet their individual development needs or organisations strategic development intentions.

So far we have created films to outline that Communities and engage with the sector.

We have developed a range of face to face sessions, including:

  • social model of disability informing curriculum design
  • the inclusive classroom – the curriculum in action
  • inclusive technology -accessing the wider curriculum offer (delivery supported by Natspec)
  • work placements – planning for SEND in the work place
  • using RARPA to flex your curriculum offer (delivery supported by Natspec)
  • student voice (delivery supported by Natspec).

Further sessions are scheduled for 6 February and 3 April 2020, register online to book.

We have scheduled webinars on:

  • Reflections from our recent deep dive inspection, 13 February 2020
  • The 8 P’s we use to plan Inclusive Curriculum, March 2020
  • Curriculum flexibility resources to support developments in post-16 planning, March 2020

DCG have used Design Thinking as a fundamental element of change management and developing inclusive Curriculum (as well as many other whole organisation initiatives!).

Our exciting 3-day entrepreneurial thought in-action training, Design Thinking train the trainer, scheduled on 28-30 January 2020 in Derby. Read the course outline, to book please email:


You can also contact us to book an Inclusive Curriculum Review, use our 20 questions resource to plan your priorities for Curriculum Development and link with the other Centres for Excellence in SEND to enhance Community Engagement (City College Norwich) and Develop your teams (Weston College).

We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the post-16 sector. Don’t hesitate to contact us at to discuss sharing your good practice or developing in house sessions for your organisation.

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