CfESEND blog: employability hub and activities at Weston College

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

What others are saying about the Centre for Excellence in SEND (People):

During the last month, the Centre for Excellence in SEND (CfESEND), at Weston College under the theme of People, has reached over 130 people across its Community of Practice/Employability Hub (108) and Leadership Hub (22). The work of the CfESEND has and continues to be recognised by many of the organisations engaging with it.

Below is a testimonial from Alliance Homes’ Community Investment Manager, Michael Williams. The organisation is engaging with both the Community of Practice and Employability Hub:

Alliance Homes is a community based social housing provider which owns and manages 6,500 homes across the West of England.  We work to make a positive difference to the lives of our customers through strengthening communities, working in partnership with others to build capacity, creating employment opportunities, and promoting independence.

We are committed to preventing discrimination and promoting equality for our customers and colleagues regardless of age, disability, gender, gender identity, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion and belief, and sexual orientation. We want to break down barriers (real and perceived), value diversity and provide excellent customer service.

With this commitment in mind, we have been delighted to engage with the Centre for Excellence in SEND (People).  This engagement, through webinars, events and regular 1-2-1 meetings has helped to:

  • deepen our own understanding of SEND;
  • support our customers and own employees mental health and wellbeing;
  • enabled us to share information and best practice across our supply chain and networks; and
  • resulted in training and developmental activities across our own organisation.

We are now working with the Centre for Excellence in SEND (People) to encourage our own supply chain to offer supported internships and to become inclusive and disability confident.  There is a clear synergy between our own organisational core values and the key objectives of the CfESEND. We look forward to deepening our work with the CfESEND as part of both the Community of Practice and Employability Hub.

Summary of key activities (15 July – 14 August): 

#TalkingAnxiety with Nick Elston (15 July)

The CfESEND (People) was delighted to welcome leading Inspirational Speaker, Nick Elston, to deliver a webinar on the lived experience of mental health.  Based on his own experiences of mental illness and mental health, Nick shared candidly his tips, tools and techniques that helped him in his own recovery.

Nick delivered his webinar in an inspirational, fun & powerful style, focusing not just on what anxiety is – but what anxiety does – how it keeps us in a comfort zone, stops us living life on our terms and ultimately how it affects success – by your own definition.

Feedback from the Communities of Practice included:

  • “Thank you Nick and all, this has been so interesting and thought-provoking, I recognise so many of these behaviours in myself and others!”
  • “Really interesting and valuable. Needed this, particularly during an everchanging situation – thank you so much.”
  • “Thank you. This has been really interesting on a personal as well as professional level.”
  • “Very interesting, very helpful, especially work and home life – so relatable. Thanks everyone for your valued comments and ideas.”
  • “Thank you, Nick and Jane, for giving us this time of reflection and strategies to consider for the future.”

Supporting staff to return to the workplace after lockdown (29 July)

This session focused on the collegiate, organisational and people-focused procedures which have been embedded during the lockdown, helping to support staff returning back into the workplace.

It detailed the process of mobilising organisational wide working groups, development of detailed action plans and the focus on key elements of a return to work after Covid-19 (e.g. communications, employers, learners, staff welfare, estates etc).

Through this session, the CfESEND (People) shared experiences to date and lessons learnt, in our mission to support staff to return to work whilst minimising anxiety around this.

Working Together to Share Best Practice

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about the work of our CfESEND (People).  We’re keen to hear from anyone who would like to work collaboratively with the CfE, so please do get in touch with your suggestions and ideas:

Sam Mayhew,Dean of Faculty – Inclusive Practice,    

Jane Vivian, Project Manager: Centre for Excellence in SEND (People),

For further details of the ETF’s Centres for Excellence in SEND, webinar recordings, resources and toolkits visit the SEND Excellence Gateway.


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