Working in the sector

What do schools and the FE providers need to know about the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan?

Check out a synopsis of what the plan may mean for schools and FE providers from nasen, Whole School SEND and the Education and Training Foundation.  The SEND and an Alternative Provision Improvement Plan: What do schools and colleges need to know? webinar includes a model for creating a high status workforce from our Centre for Excellence in SEND at Weston College (at 28 mins, 28 secs) which has transformed inclusive practice at Weston College.  You will need to create a free account on the nasen website to access the webinar.  You might also like to check out the recommendations from General and Specialist Colleges working in partnership report below which provides ideas to inform the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan.

Specialist and FE colleges working in partnership

Read how specialist and general Colleges collaborate to make the system work for our learners with SEND.  The General and Specialist Colleges working in partnership report includes ideas and recommendations to inform the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan.

Image of the General and Specialist FE providers working in partnership report cover.

SEND in the FE sector

The Children and Families Act 2014 placed new duties on post-16 providers in relation to learners with SEND.

At the same time it recognised their key role in improving outcomes for this group of young people who make up almost one in five (17%) of the FE student population.

You can find out more about the SEND Code of practice and the duties and responsibilities further education providers have to their learners with SEND by selecting the two documents below.

Video: Clare Howard, Chief Executive, Natspec – SEND Reforms
cover image of SEND code of practice
The SEND Code of practice
cover image of FE guide to the SEND Code of Practice
The FE guide to the SEND code of practice

Working with learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Are you interested in starting a career in the further education and training (FE) sector working with learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or are you already working with people with SEND and want to progress your career?

Our guide, Make a big difference: working with learners with special educational needs and disabilities provides information about the qualifications you need and the different career pathways.

Make a big difference cover image


Professional development

Our Centres for Excellence in SEND offer free support to leaders, managers and practitioners.  We also offer a number of employer led activities through our employer spokes.  For details of forthcoming activities, do check out our communities of practice page.

The Education and Training Foundation conducted a mapping exercise of SEND CPD training and qualifications available across the SEND system and we produced a SEND CPD Framework.  Although, completed in 2019, much of the information is still relevant.  The inclusion of information from other organisations does not indicate a recommendation by the Education and Training Foundation.

Are you a member of the Society of Education and Training?  If not, you might wish to join as you will have access to professional development that covers a whole range of topics to help you to support learners with SEND.

Listening to learners with SEND and their families

The Disabled Apprentice Network (DAN) brings together Disabled apprentices and those who have finished their apprenticeship
The Network is a lively and friendly forum for Disabled apprentices, to share their experiences and to offer views and proposals on what could improve apprenticeships for Disabled people.

The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) is the independent national voice of parent carer forums. There are 152 parent and carers forums across England which bring to the fore the experiences of families to inform and shape policy.

What works in SEND

A Staff Toolkit webinar – Effective inclusive support strategies for tutors and learning support assistants. In this webinar, City College Norwich share their approaches and Staff Toolkit resource which ensure that learners with learning difficulties, differences or inclusion needs have their needs met and can achieve their aspirations. We want our learners to live full lives by thriving independently in their community, moving on to further or higher study, an apprenticeship or into the world of work.

Video: Staff toolkit webinar

Effective SEN support is a research report on effective approaches and examples of current practice in good and outstanding schools and colleges. This resource is to help leaders, teachers and support staff in mainstream primary schools, secondary schools and colleges reflect on practice to support pupils and students with special educational needs.

Amongst the schools and colleges, they studied there was a wide range of strategies and approaches being used to support students on SEN support. The research identified seven key features to providing effective SEN support. The 7 key features are Culture, leadership and management, High quality teaching, Use of expertise, Personalisation, Flexible use of evidence-based strategies, Progress tracking, and Communication and collaboration.

SEN Support for leaders, teaching and support staff research report

SEN Support for senior leaders research report

Accessibility and the law: Getting it right

Legislation for accessibility changed in a very positive way with The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations (2018). This short EdTech Accessibility and the law: Getting it right module looks at how to stay on the right side of these regulations it shows you the issues and implications of current legislation around accessibility.

Time to Talk Next Steps

The National Development Team for Inclusion (NTDi) are running a three-year programme, Time to Talk Next Steps, to support young people (16 to 25 year olds) with additional needs to build confidence, provide motivation and make plans for the future. The programme provides free virtual support to young people with additional needs who are experiencing anxiety, feeling isolated and may have no or limited plans for their future. Support is short term either one-to-one or in small groups. Young people can go on to become peer supporters.

The programme provides additional information, support and advice to parents and carers of young people, and they run workshops for families on transition and preparing for adulthood throughout the year. More information and contact details can be found on the NTDi Time to Talk Next Steps website page.


Tomorrow’s leaders: a world beyond disability

Tomorrow’s leaders: a world beyond disability is a publication featuring young people who are all achieving great things in their own lives, in their communities and wider society. The Education and Training Foundation worked with the Council for Disabled Children to develop and publish the resource.

The publication contains inspiring stories from young people who are achieving their goals in:

  • arts, sports and leisure
  • campaigning, advocacy and inclusion
  • entrepreneurship and employment

The publication is written for those learning and working in education. It highlights the importance of having the highest aspirations for our young people and supporting them to achieve them.

Cover of the 'Tomorrow's leaders' report

Changing roles

Do you feel it’s time to try challenge yourself and try something different? That’s exactly what Thoria King did. After 19.5 years of working in prison education, Thoria became the SEND Manager at London Borough of Hillingdon. You can read her guest blog, Reflections of a ‘newish’ SEND manager to learn how Thoria found her first eight weeks in the new role and her advice to others who are considering a move into SEND management.

If you’re considering a career in the Further Education (FE) sector and want to find out more about the different types of providers in post-16 education, take a look out our guide, So what is the FE sector

Thoria king head shot

If you like Thoria, fancy a new challenge in your career then the ETF run a programme of continual professional development courses specifically for those new to SEND management. You can find out more on our Leadership and Management page.


Small, powerful everyday things – conversations of humanity in the SEND system

cover image of small powerful everyday things

Through storytelling, people with different perspectives can come together and share their common humanity, hopes and goals. The act of telling stories, listening and being listened to in itself, has a positive impact on those learning and working in the SEND system.

This publication, Small, powerful everyday things – conversations of humanity in the SEND system, gives us an opportunity to read stories from the perspective of learners, their families and professionals working in the SEND system and to think about how storytelling might inform your work.