CfESEND blog: excellent start of term at City College Norwich

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

Excellent start of term

At City College Norwich our start of term has been very busy but running well and as a Centre for Excellence in SEND on the theme of community, we’d like to share some of our experiences.

We have spent several weeks preparing for learners to return to a full and active timetable. We have full timetables and all learning is planned face to face. Our learners with SEND are going through individualised inductions to ensure that we all have clear expectations as Covid-19 continues to impact on how we learn and work.   We are supporting our learners with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) to transition to college through our virtual pathways to adulthood tour (link ). 

You can find more information on how to support learners with PMLD with quality provision mainstream FE providers via this excellent guide produced by the sector for the sector.

In our entry provision staff note that transition and the start of term is going well, with learners already accessing our online platform to record their progress in journals. One learner who has been unable to come to college because of care and transport issues is accessing classes from home, which is positive.

The support staff at college have been brilliant and are the glue that keeps it all together. I have been utterly impressed with their resilience and setting aside any anxieties they may have to ensure learners have an excellent experience and return to college.

Some of the shared learning from our communities of practice:

Kirklees College – “We have had meetings in person with each EHCP student in late August and early September. Those on vocational study programme courses are attending a 2-hour in-person induction in their allocated site to meet staff and go through information and participating in online induction activities for the rest of this week. Those enrolled to Foundation Learning have all had detailed phone/skype conversations and are starting back in college on timetable from the start of term. We have a differentiated approach with some students in full time, (3 days) some in one day and some in 2 days depending on their situation and their needs.”

Working better together

It’s important that our SEND community continues to support each other, and the ETF is instrumental in bringing us together to do this. I will be in sector stakeholder conversations across the next few months, so I encourage you to get in contact if you have any concerns, insights, highlights for the sector.

A concern and focus of ours have been parent dissatisfaction with taxi transport/assisted transport. Too many times I have heard concerns about the anxiety learners, parents’ carers face with not knowing until the day before the start of term whether transport is in place. In some cases, the LA have stated the learner will need to miss a week as they are unable to respond in time. Some LAs have looked to offer schemes where families are reimbursed if they use their own transport. There is such pressure on budgets to reduce transport cost but with travel training suspended this year because of Covid-19, it has put additional pressure on resources.

Leadership Discussion

Many of you have been benefiting from ongoing support through Leadership Discussion with Corrienne Peasgood, who has set aside some peer one to one discussion sessions for leaders to discuss strategy in creating a culture of excellence through employers, parents, and the community.

You have also been contacting us about our Leadership SEND expert with me Elaine Dale Director of SEND to help and support, shape the strategic and operational SEND vision.

We are still offering these opportunities with Corrienne and myself, so don’t miss out and book your 1:1

Please also keep a watchful eye on the SEND Excellence Gateway for resources, webinars and updates.

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

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