2021 Winners.

Most Inclusive Practice Across a School or College

Most Inclusive Practice in Early Years

Most Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education

Most Inclusive Practice in Special Schools and Alternative Provision

Most Innovative Special Needs Intervention

Support into Employment

Contribution to the Sector

Most Inclusive Practice Across a School

Westlea Primary School

Westlea Primary School is larger than most other primary schools with around 300 on the role. The proportion of pupils known to have special educational needs and/or disabilities is well above average. This is because the school has a specialist resource provision catering for up to 8 pupils with a physical disability – currently there are 9 children on roll (this is about to increase to 10 children). Each of the SRP children has an EHCP and 2 of the children are currently in EYFS, on bespoke packages to meet their complex educational needs.  

We also admit children with high levels of medical needs from outside our catchment area as the schools in their area do not have the facilities or skills we have and will not admit them. The children are all fully integrated into mainstream provision, due to the expertise and commitment of the SRP and mainstream teachers and TA’s. The school’s previous SRP Lead (now the Headteacher) was recognised by the borough as Leading teacher of inclusive practise. A recent Local Authority audit of the SRP provision judged the provision to be good (this was the highest possible judgement). 

Our expertise with SEND children also attracts parents from outside our catchment area who send their children to our school. Currently, there are 17 children with EHCPs in the school, including children with ASD and SEMH needs. 

Westlea is a highly inclusive school and we successfully integrate all of the children with substantial needs into the full life of our school. The school not only focuses on providing an education, but preparing the children for life, so they are prepared for their role in society. 

Within school we have a dedicated team of highly trained Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), who are managed by the SRP Lead and the Senior TA. The LSAs are involved in: personal care, toileting, administering gastric feeds, delivering different therapeutic programmes, administering medical procedures and manual handling. 

Considering that Westlea is a Mainstream Primary school, every child receives a bespoke, inclusive curriculum which addresses all of their needs: educational, physical, emotional, social and health. 

Evidence of going above and beyond

Within school, a holistic approach is taken to the education of every child. Every child is different and has a range of needs, therefore we work hard across the school to create a fully inclusive education for all. 

One of the philosophies that has been embedded across the schools is: we are all the same, but difference. Throughout Westlea being different is celebrated and this is used as a steer to address any issues of bullying, homophobia or racism (these incidents and almost non-existent). 

Specific children are on flexible and reduced timetables to meet their levels of fatigue, medical needs and to ensure that school is a positive experience. The timetables are constantly reviewed with staff and parents. 

Other children have bespoke timetables to include: speech and language therapy, physical and occupational therapy; time to develop social and behavioural skills; brain breaks and therapeutic play/listening. 

Across the school we not only monitor attainment, progress, but personal needs and challenge. For example: which children need the outdoor stimulation addressed by Forest Schools? Which children would benefit from art or music therapy? Another group in Y3/4 is designed to target higher attaining children through STEM based engineering, practical projects to ignite their imaginations. 

Across the school, the Learning Support Assistants will support the children according to their levels of need. Lessons are differentiated carefully to ensure every child is fully included and able to access the content. 

Every term 2x children in every class are presented with the Headteacher Award. The award is in recognition of children who reflect the Westlea Values of: L.O.V.E (Learning, Opportunities, Vision and Educational Excellence). At Westlea we want every child to leave school as a well rounded individual, resilient, self aware and confident in their own ability, regardless of disability, race, gender or perceived differences. 


The work is innovative because it is totally child focused. The child is at the heart of everything we do in school. Also, building strong relationships with the parents and any associated professionals is key to developing positive outcomes for every child. 

Across the school we have focused on the needs of the children and managing challenging behaviour, due to how much the local catchment area has changed in recent times.  

Another dimension is supporting the whole family and being an advocate. Increasing numbers of parents have poor literacy and numeracy skills, therefore meetings are run in a supportive, non threatening way to provide assurance and clarity. 

For the past 4 years Westlea has achieved the Gold Healthy School Award and is the only school in Swindon to have achieved this status, multiple times. The achievement of the Award was for piloting the Mental Healthy School Award and being Attachment/Trauma informed. In support of these pilots, a focused study on positive and negative behaviour was completed across the school which linked to the curriculum, Special Needs, achievement and the way lessons were delivered. 

In addition the school is an Ambassador School for the Soil Association and has achieved the Gold Food For Life Award twice. Providing high quality, home cooked nutritious meals is a vital aspect of the school day. The school has run workshops for parents: cooking on a budget; cooking with your child and understanding a ‘balance diet’ 

The outcomes from the research and work has led to the following whole school changes: 

  • Revised class structure 
  • Stopped setting the children in KS2 
  • Review the approach to teaching lessons, to ensure play, discussion and enquiry was at the heart of very lesson from EYFS to Y6 
  • An increased need for outdoor learning across the school 
  • An increased need for lessons to be shorter, focused and active 
  • Developing an intrinsic behaviour approach, rather than an extrinsic reward system 
  • Positivity 
  • A culture where all of the staff feel equal and appreciated 
  • Employing a wider range of staff to promote inclusion through sexual orientation and different cultures 

Evidence of sustainment over two years

The work has been in development for the past 4 years. Year on year, the work has grown, been revised and adapted as cohorts have changed. The staff are very aware of the needs of each child, so that inclusion permeates throughout the school. The mental well being of the staff, children and the school community is paramount. 

Safeguarding across the school is very strong and this has been recognised through external audits. Increasingly, parents want their children to come to Westlea because of the experience, outlook and attitudes of the staff. 

Attendance is very strong, which is another strength considering the high levels of needs of the children. The children like school and want to attend. 

  • Pupil’s behaviour has improved over the 15 months. Under the current leadership, our behaviour strategy and policy has been substantially revised as it was felt that standards of behaviour around the school had slipped. 

  • The school behaviour policy was revised in September 2019 and January 2020, following a consultation with all staff. The behaviour policy is underpinned by the philosophy outlined in the publication: When the Adults Change, Everything Changes: Seismic Shifts in School Behaviour, Paul Dix. 
  • As part of the policy, the school has adopted a number of school rules, but the primary aim of the behaviour policy is not a system to enforce rules. It is a means of promoting good relationships, so that people can work together with the common purpose of helping everyone to learn.  
  • The policy supports the school community in aiming to allow everyone to work together in an effective and considerate way. The school expects every member of the school community to behave in a considerate and respectful way towards others, both in person and online.  
  • We treat all members of the school community fairly and apply this behaviour policy in a consistent way. 
  • In this way, we aim to help children to grow in a safe and secure environment, and to become positive, responsible and increasingly independent members of the school community.  
  • Adults reward positive behaviours, as we believe that this will develop an ethos of kindness and co-operation. This policy is designed to promote positive behaviours which will help our children grow into productive members of society, rather than merely deter anti-social behaviour 

  • The impact of this revised approach is that school is a now a much more calm and purposeful learning environment where pupils and staff respect each other. Pupils behave well around the school during break times and at assemblies because they are increasingly able to manage their own emotions well and have higher expectations of each other’s behaviour and how they treat others.  

As a result, our children are able to protect themselves from discriminatory behaviour, including bullying, racism, sexual etc. We take the view in our school community that in order to become good citizens and make a highly positive contribution to society, our children have to have a very good knowledge of what constitutes bullying and discrimination and be highly proactive in ensuring that they never tolerate it either against themselves or others. They have the right to be protected against all forms of this and also the responsibility to never practice it against others or knowingly allow it to happen to others. 

The Therapy Room project 

In order to raise the inclusive profile of the school, the current Headteacher managed to achieve a £5000 Capital Funding grant in 2018, to convert a disused classroom into a therapy and nurture space. 

The project involved: Developing a therapeutic space within school, by recommissioning a disused classroom. Purchasing an additional ceiling track hoist, furniture, therapy and sensory equipment. Decorating the room to make it welcoming and a USP for the SRP and to promote the importance of inclusion at Westlea. 

The project has created two very purposeful spaces, from 1 space. The spaces are now used every day and by a range of children from across the school.

The children’s views: 

  • The children like the personalised display boards and how their equipment is named 
  • They like the different sensory equipment that has been put in both spaces 
  • All of the SRP children really enjoy using the therapy room 
  • The therapy and sensory sections of the room are places the children can go when they want to safely come out of their wheelchair to have a stretch or to rest. 
  • The area is a private space where parents can speak to the therapists. 
  • The therapy room is fantastic. Before we had the room we would only be able to complete our therapy in the disabled toilet or on the floor. The room gives us privacy. 

All 9 of the SRP children use the therapy room and all of them have EHCPs for Physical Disability. The therapy room is used every day. 

3x children with hearing impairments use the therapy room when the Advisory Service visits 

In addition to providing a safe therapeutic space for the SRP children, the room supports the following: 

Any children from the mainstream school and parents who are supported by the outreach services e.g. Speech and Language, use the therapy room. 

The nurture space is used to support children across the school: 

Pre Covid-19: 2x Rainbow groups in EYFS and Y1 (12 children) 

Small group interventions 

Children in both KS1 and Y3/4 attend intervention groups in the nurture room on a daily basis. Some of these children have SEN and Learning difficulties, whilst others have emotional difficulties. 

The room is used for the school nurse to meet with both SRP and mainstream children to carry out different medical checks. 

The room will is used to administer the flu vaccines. 


Most Inclusive Practice in Early Years

Inspiring Foundations

Our Federation consists of two Nursery Schools in the City of Sunderland; Houghton Community Nursery School and Mill Hill Nursery School. Both settings provide outstanding Early Years Foundation Stage Education for children aged between 0-5 years.  

Houghton Community Nursery School is situated in Houghton-Le-Spring within Sunderland, serving a varied community. Mill Hill Nursery school is based in the Doxford Park area of Sunderland, and serves a mainly white British community.  

Both nursery schools have grown and changed in response to the ever changing needs of the community. Houghton is open 7.30am until 6.00pm, with Mill Hill being open from 7.45am until 5.30pm both for 50 weeks of the year. Initially both schools were purely for 3/4 year olds, however the schools adapted and opened provision for 2 year olds , followed with provision for babies.  

We view all the provision as one, and firmly believe that any child that comes to either school should have an outstanding experience. 

Since joining a hard federation both schools have developed a training programme (see Appendix 1; examples of training fliers) specifically for Early Years Practitioners, as we are passionate about supporting and working alongside our colleagues. We feel it is vital that there is high quality training available for staff who want to continue to develop and reflect upon their own practice. This has proved to be highly successful, and as a result we have now worked with a range of settings across numerous Local authorities, including, PVI’s, Infant schools, Primary Schools, Sunderland University and also held events for Early Education. Feedback from the various sessions has been extremely positive and is a strength of the school we are all very proud of. 

We also have very close links within the community, and ensure that both the children and families have the opportunity to visit various places within their local area, ensuring they have positive experiences outside of Nursery. During the Covid-19 Pandemic we continued to look for innovative ways of continuing this work, using digital technologies to embark on a learning project with elderly residents of our local Assisted Living Home (see Appendix two; digital project examples). Despite the pandemic we have continued to have visits to a local community garden where we have planted flowers for our community to enjoy. As well as this we have recently begun to return to forest school visits within local woods. Such visits allow our children to not only get to know their local surroundings but gain a sense of belonging within our local community.  

The combined impact of our work as maintained nursery schools, and training for early years is making a difference to outcomes for children, families and practitioners both within our local community and beyond.  

There are currently over 30 staff employed across the schools, including one Headteacher, one teacher/SENDCo, four teachers, one childcare manager and one senior Early Years Practitioner (the leadership team). As the Federation has grown and developed it has been important to develop the leadership capacity across the schools, and as a result there are now six staff (including the Head Teacher) on the Senior Leadership Team, all of whom bring their own specialism and individual strengths to the team. Having a large team provides more capacity to offer school to school support and increase the training being delivered from the school, ultimately supporting the sustainability of both Nurseries. 

Both Houghton Community and Mill Hill Nursery Schools are inclusive settings, currently 30-40% of the children are on the SEN register. Many children come to the nurseries as a result of the setting’s reputation. All the children with SEND receive the intensive support they need with high quality interventions through teaching approaches, peer integration and a rich and exciting curriculum. All the children follow an individualised learning route that is specifically designed to meet their needs based on outcomes. This is fed into with the use of highly experienced, strong and established relationships with a range of specialist professionals. To further enhance the already established curriculum, the children who require particular support have access to additional learning environments, including a dedicated sensory space, as well as the forest and sensory garden. Children are able to use visual timetables, concrete objects of reference, communication equipment and a multitude of other resources to support their learning. The nurseries are well staffed and each base has a teacher and a number of support staff, depending on individual need. This enables those children who require one to one support to receive this support during the day.  

Our SENCo works very closely with a range of other professional including, Speech and Language Therapists, the local Autism Outreach Team, Health Visitors and the Federation’s Educational Psychologist. This high level of expertise helps children to make excellent progress due to the tailored support it provides them. She also performs a number of roles for the local authority including a permanent panel member of the Local Authority’s Early Years Inclusion Funding Panel, Strategic Development Group, Integrated Service Group and as a SENDCo Champion and Moderator as new guidance and practice was rolled out across the Authority. This has involved working in a series of ‘Working Teams’ with Local Authority advisors, professionals from other settings including Secondary, Primary, Special Schools, Speech and Language Teams, Health Visiting Team, Educational Psychology, Behaviour Teams and the Pupil Referral Unit, Sensory Teams, Autism Outreach Teams and Physical and Occupational Teams. This has not only allowed the school to have a ‘voice’ in the resultant policy and practice but has allowed the sharing and witnessing of good practice at an Authority level. Key messages from this have been shared with Senior Leadership Team (SLT), staff and Governors and have supported the schools to continue to develop, improve and adapt their inclusion practices. 

Governors play an extremely important and active role in running of the Federation and provide great support, challenge and engagement with both the staff and parents as part of their work to gain an accurate picture of how good the Federation is, what it needs to do to maintain its ambition and also continue to improve. All link governors have been into the schools and met with relevant staff representatives throughout the year. Throughout 2020-2021 half termly meetings with the full Governing body along with regular link governor visits have continued using digital means or in person as allowed. Our link Governor for SEND/ Inclusion is an experienced Early Years Lecturer who has an excellent range of skills and expertise allowing her to provide both challenge and support within the Nursery. 

Parents speak very highly of the leaders and Practitioners. They feel that they are listened to and the schools have fostered a real partnership ensuring both parties share the process of educating their children.  Mill Hill school has recently achieved the Quality Inclusion Mark and has been recommended to go forward as a Centre of Excellence. During our recent assessment Parents commented that communication between home and school is excellent.  If parents have any concerns, they are confident that staff will take them seriously and act immediately.  One parent spoke about the excellent progress her son had made at the nursery and appreciated the support given by the very approachable staff.   She stated that, “This is a great nursery and the staff provide fantastic 1:1 support”. Another parent said, “Every child is treated in a unique way and all the staff go the extra mile to support the children. I can’t praise the nursery enough for the way that my child has grown in confidence. The staff are very special people!”  

 The Federation’s pedagogy and principles are: 

  • Rooted in our values and beliefs about what we want for children 
  • Informed by our understanding of how children learn and develop and the practices through which we can enhance that process  
  • Supported by knowledge, theory and experience  

We understand that:  

  • Children are born ready, able and eager to learn and that they actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them.  
  • Development depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments. 

(Adapted from Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage). 

  • Parents and carers, based upon warm, trusting relationships, support children’s  development and learning.  

(Adapted from The EYFS: Parents as Partners). If we want to know who children are and what they can do we need to ensure we are giving them the opportunities to show us.

Evidence of going above and beyond

The Federation’s pedagogy and practice are inherently inclusive. The whole staff team including governors and staff hold a shared passion for inclusivity for all, and a drive for providing an education that is based on the needs of the individual. The schools use an innovative approach to inclusion which hinges on tailoring the environment, resources and curriculum to meet the needs of the individual, rather than excluding any individual from any part of the day or environment to complete work separately to their peers. We feel we go above and beyond in many ways to support our children, parents and wider community. 

The first of these is our unique approach to curriculum. The child is at the centre of our curriculum. Careful and Close observations of children form the basis of our curriculum in which children’s unique questions, interests and fascinations are used as a starting point to’ light the fire and passion’ of learning which is then moved forward by practitioners working alongside the children to research together as co-constructors of knowledge, skills and understanding. Practitioners are skilled at weaving a child’s next steps for learning and key skills into their curriculum through working in this way; using the unique starting point of each child within their group of learners to ensure the curriculum on offer matches their needs. 

Specifically, our vision for our children is the creation of a caring safe and secure environment along with the promotion of equality of opportunity. The staff aim to ensure that everyone feels respected and confident. All children from our youngest babies, to our 2, 3 and 4 year olds should feel valued and able to fully participate in school life. We aim to create an inclusive, supportive atmosphere in which children can be independent and challenged in their development; where families are welcomed as partners and relationships are firmly based on mutual respect and trust.  

In order to realise the vision we treat children as unique and value their differences. Every child has a voice- this can be expressed in many different ways; our staff are very skilled at listening, observing, giving them time and tuning into this voice so that every child is able to express their thoughts, fascinations and interests. These ‘consultations’ form the basis of our curriculum in which children and staff work in partnership to explore, create and discover how exciting learning can be (see Appendix 3; a range of examples of children’s voices and how these are recorded). This is achieved through whole group piazza’s; where children and adults have high-quality interactions based around children’s learning and lines of enquiry, and together plan next steps for learning. These next steps are developed during planning groups which happen twice daily, where children have the choice of which planning group they’d like to join in with, most of the time returning back to the same group time after time, which allows their learning to progress and their interest to strengthen. Giving children choice over the own learning allows a sense of ownership and responsibility, as well as allowing them to feel heard and valued.  

Inclusion is at our core and there are many reasons for this.  ‘The Child’ is truly at the Centre of all we do. We want to ensure that ALL learners are valued and respected for being an individual. Everyone is given the same opportunities regardless of age or stage of development. For us including ALL children is not simply saying ‘All are welcome’. For us it goes beyond this. It is inextricably intertwined within our vision, pedagogy and principles. Within our relationships with the children and families. We think about and respect children’s own experiences from their own unique background. We ensure all our children are treated as individuals and are encouraged to share their own lives and interests. We acknowledge that no two children or their families are the same and therefore each child’s learning journey will be unique to them. We have high expectations of all our children. But perhaps surprisingly inclusive practice is closely linked with our relationship with the learning environment. 

Our learning environment is award winning, with our Houghton Nursery receiving the 2020 ‘Enabling Environments’ Award. The learning environment is integral to our practice and another way we feel we demonstrate our innovation and go above and beyond expectations. We have created an environment that is driven by relationships, communication, collaboration and exploration. Our environment reflects our beliefs on inclusion and belonging. We have created an environment for ALL to succeed. We don’t have separate parts or areas for SEN or high achieving children. 

We have inclusive resources that can be, and are, adapted in the moment to meet the needs of the learner. The environment is designed to meet the needs of, and cater for, ALL learners regardless of where they are on their journey. It fosters each child’s stage of development. Children are enabled to fulfill their potential through staff taking into account their needs and building upon them. As a result the spaces change to meet the needs of the cohort. The School environment is built around key resources. These resources are often recycled or reclaimed and perhaps most importantly aren’t expensive! However, what is important is that they can be used and presented differently to meet the needs of the children.

Our resources, and staff, provide a continuous or ‘golden’ thread that covers all ages and stages of development, which children can access at their own pace. Access and diversity are promoted. Importantly we understand that every child comes to us with different experiences and will therefore have a different foundation and skill set to which we can build upon. It is therefore vitally important that all staff take the time to get to know all children so that we can confidently assess their starting point and understand their own strengths and areas of interests.  

In addition to going above and beyond in the way in which approach the curriculum and environment we also have a unique and innovative way of, documenting the child’s voice and analysing children’s learning; in particular with regard to the depth in which this is done and how it feeds into provision for next steps of learning. We give particularly close attention to the individual child through use of our: 

  • Planning Books 
  • Reflection Books 
  • Daily Feedback (discussions around learning and the identification of next steps) 
  • Children’s Learning Journals 
  • Look at Me Now Documents 
  • Children’s Floor Books 
  • Half termly children complete their own ‘This is me’ 
  • Half termly strengths and barriers discussions for every child 
  • Medium term planning evaluations for the whole school 
  • Individual development matters assessment 
  • PLP’s 
  • Pupil premium work and progress 

(Please see Appendix Four for a selection of examples of these) 

There is a strong emphasis on identification of strengths, barriers and needs for each individual, and the curriculum is planned and adapted for individual children so that they are carefully supported to reach their potential. 

Children’s quantitative progress is also measured against two specific data gathering systems; Development Matters and the Launch Pad to Literacy, developed by Kirsty Page. A baseline is taken for each child upon entry into the setting and progress against this baseline is checked at regular intervals by each child’s Key Person. At the point of each data entry Key Workers complete a data meeting with our Data Coordinator who works with them to identify next steps for each individual child, as well as to analyse patterns and areas for development for their Key Worker Groups, which are then taken by the Key Worker and fed into future small group and individual plans for those children. 

Children falling behind age-related expectations are assessed separately against our Local Authorities Ranges Document and if appropriate (i.e. more than Quality First teaching strategies are needed) are given additional targets contained in a Personal Learning Profile Document (PLP). Their progress is checked against these targets, as well as the Development Matters document each six weeks. Key workers then work with the SENDCo to plan for next steps of learning alongside the child’s parent/ carer in six-weekly review meetings (Please see appendix 5 which shows the level of detail recorded within our  PLP documents). Progress is also monitored for these children through six-weekly observations undertaken by the SENDCo and (where available) the named SEND Governor.  

The following examples  of the attention to detail which is used track and support individual learners and groups of learners within the federation and to ensure children’s voices, needs and next steps are skilfully tracked by staff. 

We have a high proportion of children with SEND. Many children come to us as a result of our reputation in this area. We also go above and beyond for all of our SEND families. All children with SEND receive the intensive support you would expect in any quality Special School provision, whilst at the same time being offered the teaching approaches, peer integration and expansive curriculum associated with the mainstream foundation stage experience. All children follow an individualised learning route that is specifically designed to meet their needs. This is fed into using our strong and established links with a range of specialist professionals.  

To further enhance our already established curriculum, the children who need this have access to a number of additional learning environments including a dedicated sensory space, as well as our forest and sensory garden. Children have tools to support their learning such as; visual timetables, objects of reference, total communication equipment and much more. Each Base has a teacher and a number of support staff, depending on individual need. This enables children who require 1-to-1 support to receive it at times during the day. 

Teaching is delivered in several ways, in a range of environments, again to suit need. There is a heavy emphasis on practical learning, with a multi-sensory approach, in order to get the best possible outcomes for each child. Movement breaks and sensory breaks are built into the day for those children who need it. All staff are aware of the strengths and barriers of all children in the setting, thus they are able to support any learner in their own preferred area. Daily pedagogical reflections between all staff are used to share information, reflect on learning and build next steps into the curriculum tailored to each child.  

We feel another way in which we go above and beyond are our staff. All members of staff are dedicated and knowledgeable about early year’s provision and are passionate about improving outcomes for all children. They work collaboratively together, drawing on their experience to provide effective support and guidance for all children. The team have a strong knowledge and understanding of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. They comprehensively know how children learn through play and through practising skills they have mastered. Staff skilfully and confidently plan exciting activities that meet the needs and interests of all of the children. Children are treated as individuals and, most importantly, are treated with care and respect. Staff take collective responsibility to ensure that all children are included and that everyone matters. 

The staff are highly skilled they go above and beyond in their approach to continued professional development, accessing numerous training opportunities and constantly reflecting on practice/ actively looking for ways to broaden their own knowledge and pedagogical understanding. Across the federation we have an action research and enquiry-based approach. Each half term we have a protected staff meeting for SEND training and updates, as well as a second protected staff meeting for discussing the strengths and barriers to learning for all children. As previously mentioned, we have a dedicated SENDCo who works to support pupils, staff and parents and drive forward training needs. This year in particular she has led the whole staff team in an action research project aimed at narrowing the gap for pupils with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Working on advice from colleagues at our local specialist school for pupils with a diagnosis of ASC, Educational Psychology and wider specialists to overhaul the Federations assessment system for these pupils and to up-skills staff to form an expertise in this area. We currently hold the Silver Autism Friendly Schools award and are well on our way to achieving Gold. 

These are just a selection of training courses which staff have undertaken in the past 2 years. 

  • Sensory Processing Training 
  • Transitions Training 
  • First Steps Training 
  • Understanding Behaviour Level 2 
  • Several staff hold a level 2 Understanding Autism qualification. 
  • Theraplay 
  • Makaton- all staff have awareness training, 3 members of staff are qualified at a level where they are able to train others. 
  • PECs 
  • Elklan 
  • Ican 
  • Attachment Training 
  • Medical training in diabetes care, EPI Pen administration, Tracheotomy  Care, administration of oxygen to name a few. 

Over the course of the pandemic we have used our innovation and creativity to ensure a continuation of our work and to maintain our relationships with parents and children. We have implemented a new APP to maintain communication with our families. This has been used to send information around learning and well-being (Please see Appendix Six for examples). We have also launched a #BEEKIND and #BEECONNECTED campaign involving the Federation (Please see Appendix Seven). 

Finally, we feel that we go above and beyond in our approach to sharing of practice and dissemination of training. As a Federation we are passionate about lifelong learning for all and achieving best practice not only for those in our care but for improving the life chances of children across the city and beyond. We are active in our Local Early Education Branch, Sunderland University, in supporting Early Excellence and in delivering training to our own and other Local Authorities. We regularly share practice across social media platforms and have a range of visitors to our setting; thus ensuring that we can develop pedagogical approaches to inclusion over a wide remit (see Appendix four; instagram posts). 

Evidence of sustainment over two years

Mill Hill Nursery School and Houghton Community Nursery School have now been federated for four years. The Federation’s SLT meet regularly to discuss all aspects of the school and each member takes responsibility for an area of school improvement deriving from the school’s development plan; leading on their area of expertise or interest and monitoring key aspects of their practice. The team is diverse and effective and staff within the team work well together, knowing when to draw on one-another’s strengths, and each has a passion and drive to make the settings the very best provision for children. Our Headteacher skilfully leads the team, providing challenge and direction where needed and encouraging all staff, children and families to reach their potential. She is passionate about providing the best start in education to every child and has an unwavering commitment to the Federation and its families, accepting nothing but the best for them in every aspect of school life.  She has a strong commitment to Professional Development and as such there is a whole staff culture of continuous PD and research in which all staff are encouraged and supported to progress their skills, understanding and knowledge based on their starting point and where they are in their own learning journey. 

In particular in terms of SEND in 2018 we reflected upon the needs of our children across the settings and made the decision to develop the role of our SENDCo- freeing her to work across the federation and increasing the amount of time dedicated to SEND and Inclusion. This resulted in reflection upon systems and practices, and protected work time to develop pedagogy and practice, reflect and act upon staff training needs and look at areas of priority for the school. 

There has been a collective journey between the SENDCo, Leadership team and staff to increase knowledge, skills and understanding, work with outside agencies and to reflect and develop the curriculum, environment and practices to achieve effective, reflective, targeted, best practice provision for all children no matter what their strengths or barriers within their personal learning journey.   For example, this academic year the SENDCo has led the staff in an action research project aimed at narrowing the gap for pupils with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition. The SENDCo has worked with the local specialist school for pupils with ASC together with the Educational Psychologist and wider specialist to overhaul the Federation’s assessment system for ASC children and to up-skill staff in this area.  

As a staff we have a life-long commitment to learning- striving to know more, do better and provide the best for all in our school community. 

Appendix One – An example of our training fliers

Appendix Two – Examples from our digital project

Appendix Three – Children’s voices 

Appendix Four – Documenting  

Most Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education

London South East Colleges

London South East Colleges provides outstanding education and training for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) across the boroughs of Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich at its Nido Volans centres.  

The team currently supports 286 16-24-year-olds with complex to moderate learning difficulties. It provides discrete and personalised study programmes at our Bromley and Bexley Nido Volans Centres.   

Nido Volans means ‘fly the nest’ and that is the College’s aim – to give learners the skills, personal development and qualifications they need to work and live with greater independence.  

The employability programmes and extensive employer network helps the team to identify a range of employment opportunities for learners with Special Education Needs and Disabilities, offering them the chance to work and develop their skills. For young people who have more severe to complex needs – support is provided to help them live life within the local community via the College’s Independent Living programmes.  

The learners develop both employability and independent living skills, supported by a specialist team, to prepare them for their adult life and the world of work. Facilities at Bromley and Bexley include the ‘Chefs Table’ and GMT training kitchens and restaurants, manufacturing workshops and horticultural facilities (including a large polytunnel).  

Both campuses have performance spaces to help learners develop their communication and social interaction skills, putting on shows throughout the year.  

The provision was rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2019 and the latest achievement and retention rates were all outstanding:   

Retention – 99.7%  

Achievement – 96.9%  

During this unprecedented year, the LSEC SEND team has ensured that learners have not been educationally disadvantaged by the pandemic – while at the same time, helping them to contribute to the local economy and wider community.    

This focus has been very much embedded in the College’s wider ambition to operate as a social enterprise and add genuine social value to its communities. This pioneering approach is taking the role of the LSEC far beyond that of ‘just a college’ – and instead is positioning it as an ‘Anchor Institution’ at the heart of the region and encouraging social mobility. Local residents are bring provided with opportunities to reskill/upskill/progress - while businesses and employers are gaining access to well skilled individuals, who will help support economic growth.  

SEND learners are a central part of this ambition, with much to offer when given the right opportunities support and access to employment – which is exactly what the College endeavours to do.  

Evidence of going above and beyond

Every learner within this provision has a bespoke and personalised timetable – ensuring that individual learning targets are met and progression opportunities are maximised.  

In March, the College’s Bexley Campus was set up as the Local Authority SEND Hub, with staff supporting SEND learners from across the region to access face to face provision while schools and colleges were required to close to the majority of pupils/students.  

For those LSEC learners choosing to remain at home, live lessons enabled them to engage with a full programme of activities from maths and English to Forest School and sporting challenges – designed to meet individual needs.   Staff made regular contact with families to ensure students were managing with remote learning. For those unable to engage online, hard copies were delivered with daily engagement made with all learners.  

Employability skills and supporting learners into work is a key priority for and this remained the case throughout the lockdown period. With limited work experience opportunities available, Bromley Mencap delivered online and face to face workshops to help keep employability skills fresh and ensure learners are ready to take up real placements once restrictions are lifted.    

In addition, a Woodland Maintenance initiative was set up for learners at the Bromley Campus. This was managed by a member of the SEND team who is a specialist in Forest School – and ensured his students were able to continue developing their skills at a time when external work experience was not possible.  

Community-linked initiatives are a huge focus – with the wider College now operating as a social enterprise. Adding social value to its communities is a priority for all areas of provision, including the Nido Volans centres; which also supports the development of learners’ enterprise skills.  

Projects undertaken by the SEND team and its students between January and December 2020 include:  

  • The creation of a Nido Volans shop, with learners making a range of high quality goods to sell. An online version is now being launched, feeding into the College’s social action agenda and demonstrating the contribution that people with SEND can have within the community https://www.tes.com/news/send-work-placements-5-steps-sustainable  
  • Supporting the creation of the PEACE garden in Bromley’s Norman Park, with learners developing their teamwork skills alongside their horticultural skills  
  • LSEC’s FE Foodbank Friday: a national initiative to raise money and collect items for local foodbanks during the pandemic. SEND staff and students produced and performed a Christmas Pantomime, which was streamed to a virtual audience and contributed to the £46,000 raised for foodbanks across the region     
  • In May 2020, the College was chosen by the DfE-backed Oak National Academy to provide a range of specialist SEND learning resources. The College’s SEND team helped to create these high quality materials (including delivery of lessons) which were used by schools and parents across the country during the lockdown period.   

The team never rests on its laurels or takes its ‘outstanding’ rating for granted. Everything it does is focused on successful learner outcomes; achieved via rigorous self-evaluation and responsive working with Local Authorities, students and parents.   

The team started working with East Sussex College Group in September 2020 in a supportive role to help improve teaching, learning and assessment. This is creating a beneficial two-way sharing of best practice.    

The success of the team’s work throughout the pandemic was such that the DfE requested a case study to publish in its updated guidance, to help support other SEND providers (see attached).    

Evidence of innovation

The College is always looking at ways to innovate  in order to improve the experience and outcomes for its learners.  

In addition, the organisation’s move to become a social enterprise is ensuring that its contribution to the wider community is also a priority.  

This innovative approach is benefiting students by highlighting the true value that they can all have within their own communities – be it through the production of high-quality goods, the taking up of employment in a range of local businesses and/or taking part in volunteering activities.  

Supporting learners into employment and helping them to live independently where possible is a key part of LSEC’s work. To help to this as effectively as possible, the College is using EMSI data to identify sectors with skills gaps. This then enables the team to engage with employers who have jobs to fill – providing new opportunities for learners.  

An example of the success of this approach is a new relationship the College has formed with a logistics company in Bexley. With the pandemic fuelling a rising demand for online sales and deliveries – this is very much a growth sector and will undoubtedly offer employment opportunities for learners looking to progress into work.  

Sustainment over two years

Sustaining the College’s work and its positive impact is crucial to the continued progression and success of students.  

Its ongoing working partnership with Bromley Mencap over the last five years has ensured that learners have been placed in meaningful work placements where they are well supported. Paid outcomes have been brokered for the learners and effective use of Access to Work funding has ensured the support required to maintain the outcomes has been consistent and appropriate.  

The College is seeing year on year growth in our supported internships. Four years ago it had just two internship programmes – and now there are six, increasing to seven next year.  

The Woodland maintenance initiative will continue to offer work experience to Nido Volans’ students as well as supporting the College’s green agenda.  The nature trail is now being shared with staff to enhance their wellbeing during their working day as well as being made available to local community charity projects for activities such as family treasure hunts.  

Enterprise activity is also ongoing, with sales of mulch, manure and wood chip proving successful. A new Flower Farm is being developed for next year, which will provide fresh flowers to go on sale in the Nido Volans shop as well as to local florists over the next few years.  

Other sustainability-supporting activity lies within partnership working with other institutions. The supportive work being undertaken with East Sussex College Group is being extended beyond the initial project - with wider introductions being facilitated with SEND colleagues across London. This is widening the collaboration network to improve and share two-way best practice among SEND professionals, ensuring that provision will be strengthened and sustained in the coming years.  

Most Inclusive Practice in Special Schools and Alternative Provision

The Summit Centre

The Summit centre is based in Queen Elizabeth’s Academy. It is set within an area of significant deprivation. It serves the wards of Ladybrook and Bullfarm/Pleasley, which are among the 20% most deprived wards in the County according to the Government’s official statistics (English indices of deprivation 2015). When considering the deprivation measure of education, skills and training, the Summit referral area falls into 10% most deprived areas nationally. The surrounding areas of the Summit Centre have low, levels of education attainment – 13.3% of the population have ‘no qualifications’ – significantly higher than the national figure of 8%. Furthermore 11.6% of children live in households that are workless (NOMIS 2016). In working households, the average salary is 36.5% lower than the national average for England (National Statistics, 2017) and 38.25% of households are paid less than the ‘living wage’ (social mobility index data). The Academy is currently undersubscribed with high numbers of SEND (in particular SEMH) students and EAL students 

Queen Elizabeth’s Academy SEND numbers have been accumulating rapidly which has therefore identified a requirement for an additional support centre on site which could house the most severe at risk of exclusion students and offer a bespoke education package to meet their needs.  

For the past 15 years the Academy has been in special measures and various projects /strategies have been implemented and failed. When I started in 2010 the Academy had over 80 students accessing various off-site alternative provisions and a significant number of exclusions and permanent exclusions too. 

The Academy trust decided to support the school by recruiting for staff to run our own alternative provision centre on-site which can support internal and external students places.

Going above and beyond

The Summit staff wanted to bring something bespoke to the Mansfield area to work towards increasing student’s confidence with education settings whilst also building strong relationships with parents and other stakeholders.  

The Summit team have worked closely within the SEND / PDBW staff and looked at possible strategies and techniques to improve outcomes and attendance. We visited other Schools who are currently implementing similar strategies and discussed how these could influence our findings.  

We looked at Primary Schools, Academies, Pupil Referral Units and Special Schools within the Mansfield area with similar demographics and studied the impact their interventions had on their children and re-integration procedures for returning to mainstream education. This helped us when designing our own transition procedures for students who are successful with accessing alternative provisions and want to re-integrate back in to school. 

While our Academy could take a zero-tolerance towards various behaviour issues and look at permanent exclusions as a solution we would rather offer support within our community whilst also offering the students the possibilities and opportunity of re-integration back into mainstream education if they are successful in our centre. 

Before the Centre opened in September 2018 there was a small group of staff which already supporting a large number of disadvantage / SEMH students who were no longer accessing mainstream education and were being taught in the schools Learning intervention centre. In total there were 3 members of staff, The Inclusion Coordinator, Director of Inclusion and a Teaching Assistant. The curriculum which was adopted previously was very limited consisting of a few mainstream lessons and some interventions. Little CPD had been done to support the staff in the centre other than the mainstream CPD sessions which were tailored towards mainstream students and staff. The need for bespoke training was identified and a new programme was designed to improve all who teach in the Summit centre. The curriculum in the centre required change and more importantly the staff needed to update their own continuing professional development in line with the environment they are working in. 

Since we opened the Summit centre we have catered for a total of 120 pupils all on fulltime timetables, now we currently have a full cohort this year. Since we have been open 19 students have been successfully re-integrated back into mainstream education or referred to a special school as a completion of an EHCP (Education health Care Plan). Staff in the centre have their own bespoke professional development programme which is targeted at supporting students with unique complex issues. 

The nurturing environment in the Summit centre means that all pupils are encouraged to achieve to the best of their ability. Progress is celebrated on the achievement boards and awards evenings. The engaging curriculum covers the core subjects with a, thread of literacy and numeracy running throughout the other subjects. Staff identify pupils’ common misconceptions and ensure they are corrected, lessons are well differentiated for pupils according to interest, ability and learning needs and build on pupils’ strengths. The observations show that there is a clear sense of habitual practice, lessons are challenging, engaging and sustain pupil’s interest and pupils that enjoy learning are willing to find out new information and deepen their knowledge, understanding and skills in lessons. This is clearly evidenced in the current attainment levels, progress levels and attendance data. 

Any barriers to learning, social, emotional or mental health needs are identified at an individual level and pupils have specific learning plans to account for this so all staff can apply strategies to support individuals, these are closely linked to pupil’s passports. 

Teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants are very skilled, effectively encourage learning and good behaviour for learning and teachers check pupils’ understanding systematically in lessons and use their TA effectively to offer clearly directed and timely support. 

KS4 have knowledge retrieval activities similar to mainstream education. All lessons start with a knowledge retrieval activity in order to consolidate knowledge. This allows students to develop the schema needed to develop their knowledge. Knowledge organisers are used in all lessons and provide students with the core knowledge they are expected to learn. We have designated a time at the end of every day for knowledge retrieval practice. This allows our mentors to hold short quizzes and discussions around what students have learnt throughout the day 

The Summit gives parents accurate information about how well their child is progressing, how well their child is doing in relation to the standards expected, and what their child needs to do to improve. This is supported by our termly Attitude to learning reports and also progress reports. Parents are required to attend half termly meetings to discuss their child’s progress and needs. 

Most pupils start The Summit Centre well below their age expectations in reading, spelling, and quality of handwriting, Maths and English, despite this all pupils including disadvantaged pupils make sustained and substantial progress. Data is collected termly. 

The centre has created fantastic relationships with a number of partners. These alliances have enabled us to deliver creative projects and interventions to dozens of students. In the short period of time we have been open we have built relationships with the local Police and PCSO’s who now regularly attend our new anti-social behaviour meetings monthly, Primary and Secondary schools in the area, Inspire and Achieve who support with student’s mentors and workshops on consequences for behaviour, Youth Services, Fair Access, NEET Services and many more local agencies. This has had a significant impact on improving relationships between both the student and their parents and agencies in the community. The community PCSO’s and community Police Officer regularly support the Summit with interventions and crisis workshops. This is seen as a positive step forward rather than a negative as students are given the opportunity to discuss any concerns with them in a familiar and safe environment. This allows students to recognise the help and support available from the PCSO’s and police.  

Some students have a reduced academic offer with a greater focus on personal and social development. On initial referral to the Summit all students are expected to be able to achieve a GCSE unless their prior attainment levels suggest this is unlikely. Consequently, the vast majority of the accreditation achieved is at GCSE or GCSE equivalent level. If students are unlikely or unable to achieve a full GCSE other alternatives such as vocational Skills or Entry Level qualifications are offered alongside the GCSE.  

The ability to offer a unique, varied, education package for key stages 3 & 4 is something which no other educational provider in the Mansfield area are able to offer. Currently we have successfully re-integrated 3 key stage 2 student into their new placements whilst also supporting a complex group of key stage 3 & 4 students. Nationally we are above the standards for attainment and progress too. 

Our lessons in the centre are orientated to the child’s interest and needs. The classrooms are set at a stage not age-related learning which we find works well to meet the child’s needs. The child will have a dedicated mentor always with them in class to ensure they are safe and supported through every lesson. In all our learning rooms we have a separate room for child who might feel anxious or stressed. This can be accessed at any point throughout the day. We believe in rewarding both behaviour and academic ability and students will receive regular calls home for positive behaviour and progress. The child will receive additional support with reading and writing and spelling with his mentor daily. Additional support can also be provided for his/her numeracy sessions if required. 

Students can enjoy learning musical instruments, taking part in our bespoke football lessons whilst also enjoying one day a week off-site exploring the local parks and the peaks with their mentors/class. Since we have started running all these sessions we have noticed a significant increase in some student’s attendance by 30%. 

Staff in the centre are good at incorporating student’s interests into lessons. For example, Music, football, and computer games. 

Students have an agreed safe and quiet place for them to go to when they feel anxious due to overloaded by sensory stimuli. 

Students also access our weekly enrichment programme, which explores social skills and emotional wellbeing. This programme is also working towards outdoor qualifications such as Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award which some students might want to pursue further in college 

We are so proud to support children with a variety of subjects and interventions  

Our students really enjoy taking part in their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and John Muirs Award. All KS4 student take part in this programme throughout their time in the centre. Staff from the centre also run additional voluntary courses within mainstream education. We have noticed that since we have run this course and similar courses as part of the child enrichment programme that the child’s attendance has improved and there has been a significant decrease in negative behaviour. 

All students with the Summit Centre take part in outdoor education. Our KS3 students visits local parks and historical sites local to the centre. Over time as student’s confidence and self-esteem increase students travel further and eventually take part in their final expedition which is normally in the lake district for 4 days 3 night. 

Evidence of innovation

Why we feel the summit is unique and innovative is due to the amazing staff who work in the centre and go above and beyond for every child. 

When we looked at recruiting the right type of teacher for the centre we thought about the vision and values the centre represents within the community which is “Learning without boundaries and care without limits” We want everyone who accesses the centre to achieve the highest standards. We found that an open approach allows good practice to be modelled, shared and applied into teaching. Modelling: I believe pedagogical professional development is best led by good practitioners, we assigned our new staff to work closely with senior staff to gain experience and understanding of our values. Having a consistent approach to teaching for all staff ensured students who accessed our centre understand our preferred methods for teaching and therefore there was a good understanding in regards to consequences for behaviour and expected standards for learning.  

We are fortunate that the staff who work in the centre have been carefully selected to meet the needs of our students. All support staff has unique backgrounds that we find help reassure and inspire our students. Currently, we have a Semi-professional footballer, ex Women’s England basketballer, retired professional rugby player, ex-military instructors, and ARNA support worker as well as senior GCSE teachers. All these staff have a unique way of working with students and supporting their dreams and aspirations. 

Evidence of sustainment over two years

The last 2 years have been amazing. We never expected the centre to have such an impact in the community and within Nottinghamshire area. Within this short period of time we have been open we have gained new relationships with various organisation, worked closely with local authority to meet the needs of children and increased teaching capacity within the centre to offer additional session. 

We had to follow a step by step plan for the Summit Centre to be operational and succeed 

Step 1, We justified the need for the change which ultimately affects all students and staff within the Academy/community and to those who joined us in September from Key stage 2 through staff forums and department feedback.  

Step 2, Analysed previous SEND data from the past 3 years and looked at trends and possible difficulties both students and staff have faced. 

Step 3, Support required to achieve success. The information previously gathered raised immediate concerns as the intake of our new cohorts starting. We realised that we needed additional support for this project to work and become successful and to be cost effective, therefore we enlisted the support from our MAT / academy SENCo and Family SENCo, setting out our action plan. We also sought support from our academy lead head of behaviour who discussed current initiatives in place to support our current and soon to be year 7 students with behaviour and attendance concerns 

Nationally the current rise in exclusions and demand for schools and academies to support children who are at risk of permanent exclusion, there is further demand for more AP centres.  
Department of Education Report 2018 has stated that further investment from the government and local authorities is needed to meet the demand of students/schools requiring additional support.  
The report identifies 82% of LA’s reported that demand for AP/PRUs has increased within the last 3 years. 
According to figures from the same DFE document studies suggests that the number of pupils in AP’s has increased by around 3,782 since 2012 (from 12,950 in 2012-13 to 16,732 in 2017-18). This was a rise of 29% (between 2012-13 and 2017-18), compared to an overall rise in the pupil population of 7%. 

With this in mind we are now planning on increasing student numbers for the centre and also opening a new centre to work with post 16 children. 

Since the centre has been open we have had zero NEET children. All our students are linked with mentors who support them with all their post 16 options. The staff in the centre go above and beyond in regards to supporting children with applications to college, interview prep time, Clothing for interviews and CV writing skills.  

Parent Feedback has been really positive in particular the support through the Covid pandemic.  

Most Innovative Special Needs Intervention

TCES Group

TCES is an independent provider of specialist education based in London supporting exceptional neuro diverse children and young peopleaged7 to 19whohavespecial educational needs and disabilities typically associated with autism, social emotional and mental health needs and associated disorders. Most of them will have experienced multiple placement breakdowns and significant trauma, often resulting in behaviour that challenges. On average pupils will have been excluded from other provisions up to three times before reaching us and had significant periods out of education. TCES pupils learn at one of our four schools or within our Home Learning service; Create Learning and Create Learning Primary support our most complex and vulnerable pupils, with TCES East London and TCES North West London supporting those who are able to access learning within a school environment. When possible, we aim to step children down from Create into one of our main schools. TCES Home Learning offers one-to-one distance or home/community education to children and young people between the ages of 5to 19 who are out of school currently. This is likely to be due to their refusal to attend school, often linked to mental health and anxiety issues.Since TCES was founded by our CEO Thomas Keaney 21 years ago, we have never permanently excluded a pupil, and since 2018 wehave a policy of no fixed term exclusions either. Independent research(https://www.tces.org.uk/info/research) conducted by David Woodger and Caroline Frizell, Goldsmiths University of London in 2019concluded that TCES’ approach, including our refusal to exclude is, ‘highly effective in transforming the lives of pupils, educationally, emotionally and socially.’ Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline and TCES patron said of the independent research, “We are extremely grateful to the children and young people who took part in this research about whom you will read in the report. Their achievements are conclusive evidence that TCES’ approach works, and it works well. I believe that its policy of never permanently excluding, along with other interventions could, and should be used as a template for the educational sector as a whole.

Going above and beyond

Our unique LIFEprogrammehas been developed entirely by TCES to provide a means through whichchildren whooften arrive to us disengaged and de-motivated can achieve, celebrate success and have a timetabled space to think about their dreams, goals and aspirations. Many schoolsstate an ambition to recognise that all children have talents; we go above and beyond by offering tangible opportunities for them to demonstrate those talents including through mentoring others, leading on an Arts or charity project, or gaining specific additional qualifications and skills. We find and support roles, responsibilities and activities that mean we can reflect to each child that they bring value and that they have a placeat TCES.Standing for Leadership, Independence skills, Future options includingemploymentand Empowerment,our LIFEprogramme deliversauthentic inclusion by giving each childarole and responsibility, underpinned by high expectations and support to help them to deliver in those roles. As well as each pupil having two timetabled LIFE lessons each week, the programme is cross-curricular so has an impact right across the school day.For mostpupils our LIFE programme providesthe very first opportunity they will have had to gain a strengths-based perception of themselves as someone who can lead change, support others and contribute their talents for the benefit of thewhole school community.Our LIFE programme provides pupils with the building blocks of healthy self-esteem.Where possible roles and responsibilities are linked to qualifications so that pupils build up a portfolio of skills and experience to take through their school lifeand out to college and beyond.At the start of the academic year 2020/21 32 pupils at TCES East London began preparing for English Speaking Board qualifications, including in Debating Skills, Interview Skills and Communicating with others. All have now achieved qualifications; an incredible achievementat any time, but even more so in the midst of a pandemic when many of those pupils were working through feelings of anxiety and upheaval brought about by the global situation.Our East Londonschool also has five Level 2 trained Peer Mentors, who have timetabled sessions each week with their own mentees. Examples of successin 2020include Year 10 Mentor ‘Barry’ who mentorsYear 5 ‘Jolie’. Jolie describes Barry as her ‘school brother’ and spends most of her school time working in the same classroom as him, which has had led to a marked improvement in her behaviour. Another example of success is Year 14 ‘Ross’ whose mentee in Year 5 is ‘Joe’. Having previously been disengaged with Maths, Joe now uses his weekly mentoring session with Ross to complete all his Maths work.This success is replicated across our TCES North West London school and in our Create services where significant numbers of young people are trained Peer Mentors at Level 2 and provide similar stories of success in the service and support they offer other pupils. As dedicated Special Schools, TCES has remained open to pupils throughout the pandemic.At the start of the first lockdown in April 2020, seven pupils at TCES East London completed the Anti-Bullying Ambassador Training with The Diana Award. Fromthat point onwards they had specific responsibilities within school for anti-bullying, as well as acting as a point of contact for children who may need to talk about their wellbeing. Thisrole is animportant onein any year buthas proved to be particularly vital during the pandemic.Where pupils have had to stay at home for various reasonsduring lockdown, we have adapted their entitlement to LIFE accordingly. For example, 12-year-old‘George’ has continued to develop his independence via cookery and his father sent weekly videos to his tutor at TCES East London so that his progress can continue to be seen and celebrated. An additional skill that we have rehearsed with all pupils during their timetabled LIFE lessons is what to do and who to contactif they are alone in the house with a family member who fallsill with COVID-19.

Evidence of innovation

The Leadership aspect of our LIFE programme in particular has had a meaningful and sustained impact on our TCES schools culture. In 2018 we held our first Leadership week across our group of schools and services. We celebrated the successful transition from our 2017 Student Council team to our new Student Leadership team. We believe that authentic pupil voice and participation is an intervention best utilised with our most disengaged pupils. These are children who have never been considered for roles prior to TCES and at our schools become members of our Student Council, Anti-Bullying Council, Neighbours and Community council and Charity Ambassadors. The Peer Mentoring programme has developed and grown out of our Group Process, in which pupils and staff alike meet to understand each other’s point of view and work to become a cohesive community through supportive dialogue and shared values. Our Peer Mentors are a valued part of the staff team, acting as a bridge between pupils and the wider staff based on their own mentor training and lived experience of how it feels to be a TCES pupil. Our innovation and investment around Peer Mentors mean we have been able to make breakthroughs with children who are all but closed off to adult authority when they join us. The Peer Mentoring programme was introduced in 2020and as some of those first successful Mentors reached the end of their time with TCES and we could see they had so much more to give to our pupils, we innovated again. In November 2020we offered our first permanent employee Alumni Learning Mentor role to Nick who is now working at TCES North West London providing mentoring and using his specialist sports skills to engage mentees. Our CEO has written about Nick on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-have-promises-keep-thomas-keaney/)At the start of 2021 we offered our second role to Maison who is a member of our marketing and communications team, alongside his mentoring role at TCES East London. Our CEO wrote about Maison here (https://www.tces.org.uk/ceo-bl og/a-most-gentle-mind)We are currently exploring apprenticeship opportunities for both Nick and Maison. Our ambition is that Peer Mentoring will continue to provide a pathway to employment with TCES for those pupils who are interested in this route, and our aim is that by2026 at least a third of suitable roles at TCES will be filled by our alumni. Our HR team has also innovated in response to this development to ensure that we understand and support our neuro diverse pupils, who are now our employees. This has included adapting Maison and Nick’s ‘All about me’ pupil files to a work context so that they continue to receive the supervision and support they need to succeed. Our CEO has written about our vision as a neuro diverse employer here (https://schoolsweek.co.uk/schools-wont-be-inclusive-until-their-efforts-also-apply-to-staff/)

Sustainment over two years

LIFE is a firmly embedded programme within TCES, having been launched in 2017 and developed year on year. We continually challenge ourselves to explore and provide additional opportunities based on pupil feedback and our own research based on best practice and meeting new challenges faced by our children. Ofsted inspected TCES East London in July 2018 and reported as follows: “Many pupils lack basic social skills when they join the school. During the time they are at the school, staff successfully teach pupils to become better citizens and make a contribution to wider society. The ‘group process’ sessions, which all pupils engage in during the week, make a strong contribution to pupils’ outstanding personal development.” “Pupils speak very highly of the effective support they receive, for instance from the relationship mentoring and leadership and life skills coaching. Many pupils have benefited greatly from a new start. They learn to manage their feelings and emotions and grow into mature young adults. Some told inspectors they have learned more in this school than in any other they have attended.” In 2019 we promoted one of our Inclusion Managers to the company-wide role of Inclusion and Pupil Leadership Manager. One of the responsibilities of this new role is to organise a high-quality Pupil Leadership week in which we celebrate out new cohorts of Level 1 and Level 2 Peer Mentors. We innovated In November 2019 TCES North West London was one of the first special schools to be inspected under the new Ofsted framework (which focused more closely on how schools develop the whole student). The school was rated Outstanding and inspectors reported the following in relation to our LIFE programme “Promoting pupils’ social development is a strength of the school. Pupils take on roles of responsibility, such as head girl or boy and membership of the school council. Pupils get involved in fund-raising for charity. Pupils said they like these leadership roles and believe the school listens to their views.” We innovated further in year three of the programme (September 2020) and recruited two LIFE Leads per school and service to oversee the roll out of a wide range of qualifications and leadership opportunities. These LIFE leads report into their Deputy Head and allocated 1.5 days a week protected time to deliver the programme. This substantial commitment to our LIFE programme ensures that each pupil is supported to become the successful and exceptional leader that we know they can be.

Support into Employment

Newham College

Newham College is a Further Education College in East Ham, East London within one of the most richly diverse and deprived Boroughs in London. With a disproportionate amount of families living in multigenerational homes and temporary accommodation, 48% of residents are living in poverty. The consequences of poverty and inequality has had a huge impact during the Covid 19 pandemic, with the London Borough of Newham being one of the worst affected areas in England and Wales.  

East London is also characterised by lower qualification levels, lower employment rates, and lower salary levels than other parts of the capital. With all these factors in mind there is a huge need to prioritise independence and successful employment outcomes for Learners within the borough and help shorten the poverty gap. 

One of the core objectives of our SEND provision is to help learners to be job ready so that they can eventually secure paid or voluntary employment. We are extremely proud of our Employment Curriculum and work hard to ensure that appropriate steps are taken to progress learners prior to progressing into our Newham Supported Internship Programme (known as NSIP) and into sustained paid employment. 
Our dedicated employer liaison and internal job coach team at Newham College currently liaise with 15 local employers such as Morrison’s, Boots, the British Heart Foundation, Shoe Zone, BHF Furniture and Electrical, Angels Hair and Beauty Salon, Coffee and Bean and a local Car Mechanic amongst others. They specifically support our STEPS into Employment students on our Pre-Supported Internship Programmes to provide Work Experience opportunities and to prepare students for the Newham Supported Internship Programme. They do 1-day weekly work experience with external employers as well as working internally in various departments within the college and our SEND shop. We also have a college led 2-day Internal Supported Internship Programme in Ground Maintenance and our allotment within the College with some very exciting business and enterprise elements that form part of our STEPS Pre-Supported Internship Programmes planned for next year which will further develop students for NSIP.  

The Newham Supported Internship Programme is a business led venture led by the London Brough of Newham, Newham College runs the Newham Supported Internship Programme, in partnership with committed key local employers, within the London Borough of Newham, Our Newham Work, Generate Opportunities and the Local Authority.  

We are one of the largest providers of Supported Internships in the country working alongside 5 host Employers; Project Search at Newham University Hospital, SEND Coffee shops across 9 sites, Asda Beckton, London Borough of Newham libraries and John Lewis /Waitrose Westfield Shopping Centre Stratford. Interns work fulltime for 5 days a week at the host Employers premises.  

Our Newham Work provide ongoing training and Support for Interns on and after the programme is over to help them look and apply for suitable employment through their Employer Liaison. They also provide ongoing Job Coach support whilst the Interns are in a new job to help them sustain employment. 

Generate Opportunities is commissioned to provide us with highly skilled Job Coaches who support Interns on job tasks, job profiling and job analysis and to support in funding through Access to Work. The employers assign work” buddies” in their organisations to be mentors for the Interns and help job coaches learn the tasks before the job coaches guide the Interns through systematic instruction. Generate Opportunities also provide support when Interns get into jobs and to help support them to travel to work safely. 

Evidence of going above and beyond

During these very difficult and unprecedented circumstances with Covid 19, some members of staff in the Supported Internship team at Newham College were able to physically go into work every day to support the rest of the team that were working remotely. We had to adapt our traditional model quickly and creatively, by implementing alternative employment methods that went above and beyond expectations, for the college partnership as well as for the Interns and their families. This change needed to be implemented to help support Interns to work remotely whilst still working for our host employers, as well as supporting Interns and their families through anxieties around Covid 19.  

Newham College ensured that Interns and STEPS students were given laptops that were delivered to their homes. Tutors and Job Coaches were consistently in contact with families which was essential to enable a smooth transition into remote learning. We also checked that Interns were learning at the appropriate level and were able to access remote learning correctly, even through 1:1 sessions. For those that were unable to access the internet, or struggled remotely in any way, we also delivered learning packs to their home, which allowed for welfare checks for both Interns and families at a social distance and to give them the opportunity to voice their opinions, concerns and solutions on any matters regarding their son/daughters anxieties and independence. 

Before the 2nd lockdown was announced we ensured that parents/carers and Interns were prepared for remote learning by giving parents MS Teams sessions as well as sending them step by step picture illustrations so that everyone would be able to access classroom and employability sessions and learn how to communicate as a group online.  

Appendix 1: Attached 

Our key goal during the pandemic, as a partnership led approach during lockdown, was to ensure the wellbeing of Interns as well as their families were receiving the external support they needed.  Through our partner at Our Newham Work, we linked up with other external agencies such as SCOPE, Talking Therapies and Our Newham Work’s Supported Employment and Benefits Agencies who worked with families in sessions around benefits, mental health, Covid anxieties and specific employment skills sessions such as “Keeping Safe on the Internet”, “Confidence Building” and “Breaking Barriers in Employment”. 

We were also in contact with external agencies to ensure that other enrichment activities were accessible. Newham’s Youth Participation Services embarked on the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme with the college on the Asda Supported Internship as a pilot scheme in November 2020, linking activities to employment skills, exercise, and travel training. These Interns are now on their way to successfully completing the Bronze Award in June 2021. This project will now be implemented as an ongoing scheme within all our Supported Internship Host Employers at NSIP. 

Appendix 2: Attached 

The Newham Supported Internship Team worked tirelessly during lockdown and went above and beyond to provide additional round the clock support for distressed Interns and families to help them cope with the anxieties of lockdown and remote learning. 

Evidence of innovation

Due to Covid restrictions and lockdown, we adapted work experience tasks within their specific job rotations, that delivered an employment-based curriculum accessible from home. Tutors and Job Coaches, with the support of dedicated host employers, successfully adapted their critical thinking and creative skills to further develop role plays online. The Interns also completed job tasks around the house that were specifically creative and interesting, as well as employer related and included support from Parents.  

  • A great example of this was when Interns worked in conjunction with Harry George, one of our Host Employers, at SEND Coffee shops. Through Ocado deliveries, Harry would send Interns food packages home with the idea that they would replicate menu items sold in SEND Coffee shops. Job Coaches would work with Interns on video tutorials, working alongside them and their parents/carers to help create recipes. They also had a competition where they created an entirely new menu item that incorporated nutritional value and vegetarian ingredients.  Interns submitted photos to Harry, College SI Team and Generate Job Coaches to judge a winner. The winning menu item was then introduced across all of Harry’s coffee shops throughout London. 

Appendix 3: Attached 

  • Interns at SEND Coffee Shops also helped to run a campaign for “Save SEND coffee shops”. Interns supported their programme by creating posters and setting up a “Go Fund Me” page on Instagram and other social media platforms to help raise awareness and raise over £6,000 to help pay for SEND Coffee shops to stay open during the pandemic.  

Appendix 4: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-send-coffee?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer  

  • Project Search Interns at Newham Hospital simulated various tasks at home that they would have been doing at the hospital to help them achieve their employment targets as well as Independent Living targets. For instance, if an Intern was working in the linen department as part of their rotation at the hospital, they would simulate the same task at home by washing household laundry, drying, folding and putting away. Interns on a catering rotation would cook food and clean up for themselves and their families. Other individual targets such as personal hygiene was also met by one of the Interns tying up her own hair rather than her mum doing it for her. Various Independent skills targets were also met such as shopping, decorating their bedrooms and doing art projects. 

Appendix 5: Attached  

Exercise and Social Skills were one of our aims to help Interns cope throughout lockdown. Every morning, all the Supported Interns as well as Supported Internship Tutors and Job Coaches came together online to partake in daily exercise classes led by one of the Supported Internship Tutors. This was a great way for Interns as well as the SI Teams, to stay fit and focused for the day. The SI tutors would regularly come together with their teams to work collaboratively. The aim of this was to help all Interns get to know each other, help improve their social skills, combating isolation and building a support network. All groups linked up with the Youth Participation Services and they took part in weekly online sessions after work with Shipman Youth Centre. They played games and had discussions on wellbeing and mental health and discussed future activities they would like to get involved in to help motivate and inspire them. 

As a partnership we used innovation to overcome difficulties during the pandemic. An example of this was when the London Borough of Newham (LBN) Employers and all their staff closed down the libraries from March 2020. This affected us greatly as our Interns were unable to attend their work placements. We had to really think outside the box to come up with something that was going to work for the Interns in gaining employability skills while their placements were unavailable. We came up with an online business model, centring on digital skills and using our SEND shop within the college. Interns learnt how to use Canva, WIX and Sway websites to create an online shop. The rotations were broken up into creating and designing the website, making extra products for the shop and sales and marketing. The overall benefit of this for the Interns was to help them adapt to change and to continue to progress along their employment journey, during uncertain times.  

Appendix 6: Attached 

The work experience for STEPS student was also adapted to simulating work experience tasks at home. The students embarked on a great project called “A Day without Technology” to help them adapt to change, help them come out of their comfort zones and to help them not become reliant on technology. They used creative thinking skills to come up with a diary of work-related tasks with no technology being used except for parents taking photos for their presentations. The presentation diaries were judged, and a winner was selected. 

Appendix 7: Attached 

At Newham College we are very strong in embedding enrichment into our Supported Internship and Pre SI and Work Experience Programmes and we have very strong employer liaison skills within the team and within the partnership as a whole. Along with the support of Generate job coaches before lockdown in March 2020, we embarked on several exciting projects to help the Interns with job related skills such as going to Credit Suisse Bank in Canary Wharf. As part of their enrichment, a group of Interns visited Credit Suisse where the Senior Management Team offered to practice interview techniques with the Interns in a live corporate environment. The Senior Management Team were very much involved in setting up and conducting mock interviews to help support Interns to gain a better understanding of corporate interview methods. Subsequently this helped Interns to become more confident to apply for interviews because they were then more aware of employer’s expectations, rather than the interviews techniques they learnt in the classroom. 

Appendix 8: Attached 

We also embarked on an enterprise project at Asda where Interns upcycled materials to make and sell candles. This was created with the aim to encourage transferrable skills to the community and other settings and with the intention to promote building confidence in different employment settings for the future. 

Evidence of sustainment over two years

All of the support and innovation given during lockdown is now ongoing to help break down barriers and support Interns and families with new changes in learning and employment methods. This will help to educate parents more around the benefits of coming off benefits and gain sustained employment. Our Newham Work has no time limit on how long they continue to work with and support families into employment after the Newham Supported Internship Programme is finished at Newham College.  

Through our Partnership with Newham Council, we have built and sustained great relationships with local employers over time and to sustain Supported Internships for potential future Interns. Many of them receiving training through Our Newham Work and becoming “Disability Confident” employers themselves. We are always seeking to further expand employment opportunities for young people with Special Educational Needs and disabilities as well as physical and mental health and learning difficulties, with other key Employers within the London Borough of Newham.  

The reputation of the Newham Supported Internship Programme is expanding and is recognised in a positive light which has caused more interest in the programme and further collaborative work with other external organisations. We were invited to speak at the Inclusive Ed International Conference in March where Kauser Patel spoke about her Supported Internship Journey with Project Search at Newham University Hospital in 2020. We already have a few exciting ventures in the pipeline for further expansion with Greater Anglia, Kickstart initiatives and further Traineeship and Inclusive Apprenticeship plans as well as designing an exciting new curriculum for next year that include further business set ups within Newham College that will also encourage inclusivity with mainstream learners.  

Appendix 9:  https://events.techedmarketing.com/inclusiveed/  

We are extremely proud of all the work that we do to for our learners in the SEND department at Newham College and especially so during the Covid 19 Pandemic. The Newham Supported Internship Team within SEND, aims to help families as a holistic approach and to help bridge the employment and poverty gap in Newham. Our outcomes are over 50% for Project Search Newham University Hospital, John Lewis and Waitrose and over 70% for SEND Coffee against the national average of 5.6% for young people with SEND.  These achievements are a testament to the Newham Supported Internship team’s commitment and dedication to developing solutions as a collaborative partnership and in co-production with employers, local communities, Interns and their families, in order to deliver sustainable employment outcomes. 

Appendix 10: Metro article indicating 70% employment outcomes at SEND Coffee 


Contribution to the Sector

David Winter

Portland College is a leading independent specialist college and registered care home for young adults with disabilities.  Our Further Education provision is available for learners aged 16-25 who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Our Care services are for adults of any age from 18 upwards, but generally attracts younger adults.  

Our vision is for all people with disabilities to have a lifetime of opportunity, and we strive to achieve this vision by delivering excellent programmes to inspire and empower young people to lead more fulfilling, independent lives.  

Originally purpose-built 70 years ago as a residential college for disabled minors and WWII soldiers, we have developed our provision, facilities and expertise over the years to cater for a much more diverse learner base with a wider curriculum offer.  

Our learners all have very different needs emotionally, physically and medically, and our specialist staff support them to improve their independence, health & well-being and employability so they can look forward to brighter futures.  

As a Centre of Excellence for Autism, with advanced accreditation from the National Autistic Society, we are seeing continual growth in learners with Autism accessing our provision. 

We support approximately 400 learners and citizens each year and employ 430 staff members.  We offer a range of services, including day and residential further education programmes, Day Service, Independent Living, Short Breaks and Respite Care. 

Based in the heart of Sherwood Forest on a 32-acre woodland estate, our vibrant campus provides the perfect sensory rich and varied environment that enables all of our learners to thrive.  

The passion and commitment our staff show on a daily basis is incredible and that is what makes us the truly wonderful place we are.  Our staff are inspired by our ethos of going above and beyond for all our young people, which, in turn, inspires our learners to push themselves outside of their own comfort zone to achieve great things.   

Although we are really proud of the whole team, there is one staff member who we feel deserves real recognition for his outstanding contribution to Portland for the last 23 years – Dave Winter, who champions our vision every day both in and outside of his working life.  

As a teenager and a highly skilled sportsman, Dave aspired to be a professional footballer. He thought his dream had come true when he signed a contract with Mansfield Town Football Club youth team. Sadly, this dream was shattered abruptly when he was severely injured in an accident where a driver fell asleep at the wheel and ran him over.  

Dave had to endure a long and gruelling recovery both physically and emotionally, faced with the fact that at such a young age, his career aspirations had been so cruelly taken away from him.  

In 1998, Dave first visited Portland in the hope of securing a temporary job while he searched for a longer-term career path elsewhere. Dave was offered a role as part time carer, this was the first job he had held and a huge contrast to professional football. Little did he know then, that he had found his calling and would spend the next few decades literally transforming the lives of thousands of young people with disabilities while helping to shape Portland into the nationally renowned specialist provider it is today.  Over the years, Dave has progressed into various roles and is now Curriculum Manager.  

In another heart-breaking setback for Dave and after lots of medical interrogations, he and his wife found out they were unable to have children naturally.  They opted for IVF and spent thousands and thousands on trying for children, but it wasn’t to be.  

Although devastated, instead of feeling sorry for himself, Dave chose to see these life-changing experiences as positives and from a different perspective.  He takes his inspiration from his learners, who overcome challenges every single day as they go about improving their lives in the best way they can while dealing with profound and multiple disabilities. 

Evidence of going above and beyond

Unable to have children of his own, Dave uses his paternal instinct and energy to teach and empower his learners to seize every opportunity to develop and work towards brighter futures.  

Since the start of his career with Portland, he too has embraced every learning opportunity possible, whether through formal or self-directed training, experiential learning or mentoring and ultimately leading to Dave becoming a fully qualified teacher.  This has really helped him progress through Portland and has led to him being an excellent educator and role-model for his learners and colleagues. 

Dave is an incredibly humble and kind staff member who does not understand the full and lasting impact he has had on Portland, his colleagues and his many learners; past and present.  

He is well known and well respected among the Portland community, and regardless of how busy he is, he will always make time for everyone with words of praise and encouragement.  

Dave has helped his learners to achieve many successes throughout his career and as he has developed, he has been able to have an even bigger impact on more people.  

In 2006 he had the idea of offering sports qualifications, including Sports Leaders Awards to our learners, recognising the physical and mental benefits of active lifestyles as well as the potential career opportunities that would result.    

He led on designing and introducing a sports curriculum which, due to the nature of our learners, takes a different format to regular PE classes.  There is more emphasis on health, safety and well-being and the use of specialist equipment.  The programme builds learners’ confidence and empowers them to take on major roles in the sessions such as leading exercises or officiating games.  This teaches valuable skills such as timekeeping, scoring and managing a team.   

Learners have the opportunity to compete in local, regional and national events, and Dave has led many successes with learners representing England in Boccia squads and the Table Cricket team have won the Lord Taverner’s national title several times.  

He has introduced a comprehensive evening enrichment programme for learners which he has opened up to others in the community.  

And earlier this year he recognised the need for a Nottinghamshire branch of the Special Olympics.  Dave created and Chairs this brand-new committee which gives our own learners and community members a fantastic opportunity to compete in local, national and even international games.  This is also a wonderful tool for recruiting more learners to benefit from the Portland experience. 

Dave is also in the process of rolling out a new initiative; the Be Healthy, Active and Courageous project, which involves a 12-week training programme for staff to provide the knowledge tools and techniques for staff to support learners with self-awareness, self-regulation, goal setting, achievement habits, self-compassion and resilience. 

Dave is also Manager of Ollerton Town Football Club, where he uses his skill and passion for the sport to help young footballers to improve their game, compete as a team and ultimately work towards their dream of football careers, something Dave was unable to continue.  

All of this is alongside Dave’s busy role of managing a complex curriculum and large team of specialist staff to ensure our learning programmes are delivered to the highest quality and in line with learner aspirations.  

Evidence of innovation

Dave is continually looking for ways to improve both his own performance and our offer for our young people.  

In a previous role he introduced successful enrichment programmes where he created a timetable of fun and challenging activities for learners.  Due to its success, he was promoted to Enrichment Coordinator.  

As we emerge from lockdowns, Dave has reintroduced a comprehensive evening enrichment programme that will enable young people with disabilities to participate in a range of different sports and competitions.  The programme so far includes basketball, football, archery and boccia, with more activities and sports planned. 

He is also introducing a Motor Activity Training Programme (MATP) for people with PMLD and complex autism.  Meaning there is a programme for everyone, regardless of their athletic abilities.  All enrichment clubs will be a mix of Portland and non-Portland members which is a great opportunity for more young people to come onto campus and benefit from our state-of-the-art facilities and specialist provision.  

The Be Healthy, Active and Courageous project has been designed to support a curriculum step change by moving health and well-being to the centre of the learner journey.  This project recognises that by providing learners with the fundamental tools of self-awareness, self-regulation, goal setting, achievement habits, self-compassion and resilience, learners will be much better prepared to excel in their studies, leading to greater opportunities for them longer term.  

It will also help them to ensure they manage their own health and well-being in everything they do, not just while they’re in college.  

By creating a Special Olympics Nottinghamshire branch, Dave is enabling much wider participation from our local communities, as well as providing our own learners with opportunities to compete on a world stage.  This is also a great recruitment opportunity for Portland as community members will see first-hand the fantastic facilities, staff and provision we have, and ultimately many will likely apply to join us as a learner. 

Dave is prepared to take positive risks, to demonstrate courage and to act as a role model for his learners and peers.  Over the years, he has had many promotions and been part of organisational development, he adapts extremely well to change and can inspire his team and learners to follow in his footsteps.   

Evidence of sustainment

Dave’s career with Portland has spanned over 23 years, first starting as a carer, then as Care Coordinator, before moving into learning support and teaching roles and ultimately management.  

As he has progressed through Portland, Dave has continually pushed himself, his team and his learners.  He has taken huge career risks which have proved to be extremely positive. Moving onto management meant he would be leaving a job he loved, he found easy and he had really moulded into a successful contributor to learner outcomes.  Aside from his football management experience, he had never experienced a management role within a business and he was worried about leaving a well-oiled machine.  He was concerned about not being around learners as much and he was anxious about how, as a new manager, he would be perceived by his team.   

Dave was supported to access the training and mentoring to help him in his role.  Although he is not directly teaching learners, he still builds strong relationships with each learner and understands their needs and fully supports their outcomes.  

In the last couple of years in his new post, Dave has really shone, he has introduced and been part of many innovations and he continually pushes himself and his colleagues to be the best they can be.  

Under Dave’s curriculum management, learner achievement rates continue to be high, and working alongside colleagues in the Positive Behaviour Support team, behavioural incidents have reduced significantly over the last few years, with a year on year improvement.  

Dave continues to measure and improve quality and success within his teams through observations, mentoring and goal setting. 

Throughout COVID, Dave was instrumental in ensuring the safety of our learners and staff. He introduced one-way systems and learning zones and led a blended curriculum which was (at short notice) delivered both on and offline, depending on the learner needs. The blended model was hugely successful and gives Portland an opportunity to further diversity ifs offer longer-term and reach more people with disabilities through new technology and delivery methods.  

Dave has always been a highly valued member of the team and the commitment he has shown to his teams and his learners is truly commendable.  

Many of his initiatives are now firmly embedded into Portland, and we are looking forward to seeing the positive impact from the projects he is running now.  

Catch us at this years Mental Health Shows in Leeds, Find out more.