CfESEND blog: community and effective practice at City College Norwich

Blog by Elaine Dale, Director of SEND at City College Norwich, for the Centres for Excellence in SEND programme.

As a Centre for Excellence in SEND, we have been running webinars to continue to share our effective practice, with a focus on how we are planning to get learners back to the workplace.

We have also been talking about how to engage with employers during this time and more importantly to give experiences of work opportunities to our learners with SEND.

In a recent webinar, you have been sharing your concerns that the labour market will be challenging, and this will impact potentially on our SEND learners gaining work opportunities.  Our approach is to focus on why it makes good business sense to an employer and in our recent webinar, we have shared our thoughts on a business case for inclusion. These 7 common-sense approaches must be at the forefront of our minds when approaching employers.

1 – Business sense

  • save on recruitment time and costs
  • access to a wider labour pool
  • skills matching
  • staff retention
  • absences and late improvement
  • stay longer in job
  • take fewer days off

2 – Culture

  • inclusive environment
  • increase staff morale
  • champion diverse workforce
  • positive impact of work environment and staff
  • disability confident
  • attributes – polite, keen, willingness, positive attitude

3 – Consumer and Community

  • reputation
  • reflection of a diverse community

4 – Financial benefit:

  • greater employee productivity and efficiency
  • Increase greater employee retention and morale
  • no legal action against the Disability Discrimination Act
  • access a bigger customer base by addressing the needs of diverse customers

5 – Foster talent and creativity:

  • diverse ways of thinking leading to innovation
  • innovation to get the edge and market leader
  • a workforce that represents the diversity of your customers is more likely to design with their needs in mind

6 – Bolster your brand reputation:

  • embracing inclusion and diversity
  • translates to greater staff and customer loyalty
  • new customers
  • inclusion appeals to more people
  • part of the branding and marketing
  • corporate Social Responsibility
  • embed into all parts of the organisation

 7 – It’s better for everyone:

  • inclusion makes things better for everyone
  • barrier removal – reduces extra work for individualised solutions
  • removal of exclusion and humiliation
  • anticipating diverse needs treats everyone fairly and equally
  • recognise the value of each person and what they contribute.

Centres for Excellence in SEND Inclusive Toolkit Employer Guide front cover imageWith planning on getting learners back to the workplace, we are focusing on risk assessments linked to health and safety visits. We know that our inclusive guide to employers is extremely useful in explaining the different types of disability and how an employer can help. This is even more pertinent than ever, ensuring there is no misunderstanding of a disability and that behaviours seen are not misunderstood in the workplace.

If there is a more structured work environment that is different from the learner’s previous experience due to restricted work areas, for example, a learner may find this more challenging with a specific disability. Our approach is to continue to talk to our learners and employers together to plan the next steps.

You have given us positive feedback about our inclusive toolkit and if you haven’t seen it please download a copy and add your own toolkits and share this with employers.

What we do know is what employers really want is knowledge and understanding of disability but more about this in our next spotlight.

For now, these are our top tips during this time for our workplace learners with SEND.

Be visible

  • Be in contact with employers and learners
  • Maintain connection with the learner and employer together and take advantage of videoconferencing.


  • We are not used to working virtually and eed extra direction and contact to help learners to adjust
  • Check understanding to ensure communication is clear and not ambiguous.


  • We are balancing work at home life and its essential to get the balance right for learners as well
  • Support learner and employer expectation during this time.


  • Develop knowledge, skills and behaviours together with the employer to add value and approaches within the workplace

As a community of passionate SEND professionals, we are all working hard to support and give the very best opportunities for our send learners. Please do get in touch if you have any suggestions or areas of work you would like to explore together

Please also keep a watchful eye on the Centres for Excellence in SEND site for resources, webinars and update

I look forward to seeing in one of our upcoming webinars but for now, take care and see you soon.

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