CfESEND blog: Weston College explore the impact their SEND approaches have on learners’ progress

Blog by Dr Paul Phillips, Principal and Chief Executive at Weston College, for the Centres for Excellence in SEND programme.

Through investment in highly-qualified specialist SEND Practitioners, we explore the impact these innovative and empowering SEND approaches have on learners’ progress:

Morgan Lade

Student Morgan Lade receiving her SEND student of the year awardMorgan is studying a Pre-Vocational Programme and joined Weston College two years ago after experiencing an extremely challenging time at school. Morgan has a complex range of learning barriers, communication and emotional needs which have had a significant impact on her academic achievements especially with the selective mutism she experiences.

When Morgan commenced her programme, a multi-professional team worked collaboratively with her to develop an individualised programme of study, so she was able to engage in a new learning environment and develop strategies to overcome her difficulties. Through the choices she made, Morgan quickly developed her confidence, experienced a range of vocational options in order to begin to make an informed choice concerning her future progression with the support of her personal tutor and bespoke specialist support programme in Speech and Language Therapy, mentoring and study skills.

Morgan’s progress is a testament to the hard work and commitment she has shown. The college recognised her achievements last year by selecting her for SEND student of year at the prestigious Celebration of Success 2020 event. Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought, she has demonstrated tenacity, determination and resilience in ensuring this has not impacted on her continued aspirations of gaining paid employment. Within a recent English lesson, Morgan stood in front of her peers for the first time ever and delivered a presentation for the first time. Emily, who teaches Morgan English, wrote:

“Hello all, Rachel and I were almost in tears today as Morgan delivered a fantastic presentation. Her PowerPoint was really inspiring, and I thought that it would be nice to share her success. She did so well; I am so proud of her achievement, publicly communicating and sharing her views – there is no stopping her now!”

The specialist teaching and support Morgan has accessed, has enabled her to develop sustainable, transferable skills and strategies to accommodate her learning differences and inform others how she learns most effectively. Simultaneously the specialist staff have collaborated with the teachers to develop the skills and knowledge needed to deliver inclusive learning within the classroom, addressing the learner’s individual needs, aspirations and vocational focus.

The Centres for Excellence in SEND Forum Success

The launch of the SEND Communities of Practice Forum has proven to be a great additional support resource and due to its popularity, we are now looking to extend this sharing best practice opportunity with more people from across the FE sector being able to join. The forum was established in response to the feedback from SEND practitioners and managers attending our fortnightly Hot Topic webinars.

The monthly forum provides an opportunity to discuss everything SEND, based on the three core themes of our Communities of Practice:

  • Ambition and Motivation
  • Creating an inclusive culture
  • Promoting social inclusion.

Members of the Forum can openly share current pressures, themes of work, positive stories and good practice in an open and informal space. With the additional pressures of the Covid-19 landscape, there is no better time to support one another via this platform.

“In context, great for a group of solution focused SEND managers to be able to put our heads together in a closed group and discuss current challenges, most of which are shared despite hundreds of miles of geographical separation and significant demographic variances between providers. I picked up a couple of excellent ideas that I have taken forward to improve my own service already and am looking forward to our next session.” Feedback from one of the forum members.

Events we have coming up:

  • Hot Topic Webinar 25 November 2020, 4.00 – 5.30pm: Autism – The return to college
  • Hot Topic Webinar 9 December 2020, 4.00 – 5.30pm: Creating Motivational SEND Structures
  • Hot Topic Webinar 13 January 2020, 4.00 – 5.30pm: Empowering independence for learners with complex needs through digital technology.

Whilst the first forum is currently full to capacity, please email if you wish for a space to be allocated to you for the launch of the second group.

We are in the planning stages for a number of virtual conference-style events in early 2021 and details will be sent to all our members shortly. Bookings will be taken via the ETF Course Booking System.

Please do get in touch if you would like to find out more about the work of our Centre for Excellence in SEND (CfESEND). We’re keen to hear from anyone who would like to work collaboratively with the Centre, so please email us with your suggestions and ideas at

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

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