CfESEND blog: what others are saying about the Centre for Excellence in SEND (People)

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

During the last month, the Centre for Excellence (CfE) in SEND (People) has reached over 95 people across its Community of Practice, Leadership Hub and Employability Hub.

The work of the CfE has and continues to be recognised as a helpful source of effective practice by many of the organisations engaging with it.  Below are two testimonials from both the Community of Practice and Employability Hub.

 Vronwyn Hutch, Group Inclusion Manager, Activate Learning: 

“Working and discussing support delivery models with Weston College enabled us to consider how Activate Learning could re-energise our support for learners on cross-college courses, developing strong ties with faculties and making better use of the resources we have available.

In return we shared our good practice on how learning companies can provide SEND learners with vital employability and independence skills. 

We look forward to deepening our working relationship with the Centre for Excellence at Weston and continuing to share best practice as part of the Community of Practice.”

Angela Hick, CEO, North Somerset Enterprise Agency (NSEA) and The Hive:

It’s really crucial that managers can recognise the early signs of poor mental health in the workplace and the same is true for those of us who are working with small business owners. Early intervention is key in supporting staff, reducing anxiety and helping to support good mental health. And this now more than ever has become a key focus for many organisations, as the true impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic are just coming to light.

North Somerset Enterprise Agency has engaged with the Centre for Excellence in SEND (People) over the past year, supporting webinars, events and specific stands of work such as mental health, as well as helping to promote key messages about the work of the Education Training Foundation, CfESEND and ‘people’ focused programme.

As the CEO of NSEA, I felt it was important to develop my own understanding of mental health and so completed the MHFA course at Weston.  This was invaluable in being able to understand that mental health issues are likely to be noticed by a colleague, friend or family member well before a professional becomes involved and how best to provide that initial support.

Mental health issues are very common and can be heightened by the stresses and strains of running a business. However, many organisations are not well informed in recognising mental health crises and in knowing what support is available. This course therefore really helped to develop my own understanding and also equipped me in how best to signpost others.’

NSEA will be working with the CfE and its emerging ‘Employability Hub’ over the coming months.  We have pledged our support in helping to promote the work of the CfE, what support is available to help upskill staff, practitioners and managers in recognising the signs of poor mental health and by sharing toolkits, resources and details of training available to help them to support their teams, colleagues and service users.”

 Summary of key activities (16 June – 14 July): 

  • 1 July webinar: Supporting learners with autism back into a FH and HE environment

This webinar was attended 89 FE providers, strategic partners and key individuals from across the UK.  The Inclusive Practice team shared best practice and lessons learnt in supporting autistic learners with the transition into college or return, following the period of isolation caused by Covid-19. 

  • 7 July three Centre joint webinar: Lessons learnt from year 1 of the CfE and what is planned next:

The three Centres for Excellence in SEND (People – Weston College), (Curriculum – Derby College) and (Community – City of College Norwich) held a joint CfESEND webinar attended by 26 FE colleges and organisations across the UK.

Joint progress, findings and lessons learnt from the last 12 months CfESEND delivery was shared.  The webinar also investigated opportunities to further share best practice and sought suggestions for future joint working.

Working Together to Share Effective Practice

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

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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