CfESEND blog: Communities of Practice at Weston College


Blog by Jacqui Ford, Deputy Principal Curriculum Innovation and SEND at Weston College, for the Centres for Excellence in SEND programme.


Weston College is leading on the ‘People’ theme of the national Centres for Excellence in SEND (CfESEND). Activities are focused on ensuring organisations take care of their staff and all learners, with an emphasis on their mental, social and emotional needs. 

Since the launch of the CfESEND, Weston College has delivered a range of activities and support for leaders, managers and practitioners helping to put learners with SEND at the centre of their organisation. 

The Leadership Hub

In July 2019, educational CEO’s and leaders joined the launch of the Leadership Hub through an insightful webinar.  With a tailored workshop run by Dr Paul Phillips, CEO and Principal of Weston College, this focused on enabling participating organisations to:

  • reflect on inclusive practice and the culture within their own settings
  • identify and prioritise key themes for workforce development that can support leaders to achieve
  • access a range of supportive activities such as specialist training, advice and guidance, a dedicated helpline, continued professional development for staff and access to a network of leaders and practitioners.

As part of the Leadership Hub, Dr Paul and senior managers have been visiting organisations across the UK help review their provision, share best practice and plan strategies and activities to help ensure organisations take care of their staff and all learners with a focus on their mental, social and emotional needs.

Integration to Inclusion

As part of the Leadership Hub the college ran an ‘Integration to Inclusion’ webinar. Giving CEO’s, Principals, Directors and senior professionals an overview of the ongoing journey of a large general further education provision as it strives to serve its local community, the webinar covered topics such as:

  • how the college has developed its inclusive strategy and the proven impact
  • models of disability
  • addressing attitudinal and organisational barriers to inclusion
  • navigating the SEND reforms
  • consideration of new models of training and the professionalisation of staff to enhance inclusion.

A Day in the Life of SEND at Weston College

Taking feedback from workshops, webinars and face-to-face consultations with colleges and organisations, Weston College hosted a major conference on 18 December 2019.

With over 60 organisations and professionals from across the UK attending, the conference focused on ‘A Day in the Life of SEND at Weston College.’

Attendees were provided with an introduction and strategic overview of the developmental journey of the college and how it has supported staff and learners.  Delegates were then able to select from 12 breakout sessions covering topics such as:

  • A transformational approach to Mental Health and wellbeing
  • Meeting the needs of learners with Profound and Complex Learning Difficulties
  • Creating inclusive environments (internal and external)
  • Creating effective partnerships to secure HNF and navigating SEND reforms in practice
  • Utilising assistive and digital technologies in SEND and 3D Virtual Tours
  • Supporting transition from FE to HE.

Delegates were also given the opportunity to visit nationally recognised, award-winning facilities such as Weston Bay (specialist residential training facility) and the Sensory Learning Base.

The event helped to further establish and develop the Communities of Practice, with evaluation feedback providing tangible actions which will now be taken forward.  A number of webinars will be scheduled for January, February and March 2020, offering in-depth and interactive sessions on several of the topics requested by delegates following the event.

Working Together to Share Best Practice

Engagement with the CfESEND Leadership Hub and Communities of Practice has been very positive. Face-to-face meetings, webinars and events have already sparked debate, challenged the way the sector approaches SEND and Inclusive Practice and has led to a number of follow up actions and bespoke conversations. 

We’re keen to hear from more FE providers as together we can share best practice and improve outcomes for learners with SEND across all our organisations.


For further information on forthcoming events and webinars, or to engage with the Leadership Hub and Communities of Practice, please visit the Centres for Excellence in SEND website.

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