Revealed: The 3 colleges that will share £1.2m to open centres for excellence in SEND

Three colleges have been chosen to open centres for excellence in special educational needs and disabilities.

City College Norwich, Derby College and Weston College will each share a slice of £1.2 million to provide support for leaders, managers and practitioners who wish to put learners with SEND at the heart of their organisation.

Selected by the Education and Training Foundation, each will host a SEND strategic leadership hub, which will provide leadership support to around 15 leaders from different providers across the country’s FE sector.

The centres will also develop “effective practice” for use in college strategies, by creating pathways to employment, curriculum co-creation and promoting staff and learner wellbeing.

City College Norwich will focus on “community”, ensuring that learners with SEND are “participating in their local communities, including creating pathways to employment”.

Meanwhile, Derby College will focus on making sure the curriculum “always has a clear purpose so that learners with SEND have potential to achieve their aspirations”.

And Weston College will focus on people, ensuring organisations create “truly inclusive cultures, motivating staff to engage in continued professional development with an emphasis on supporting learners with mental, social and emotional needs”.

The ETF expects the initiative to support 120 managers.

Nadhim Zahawi, children and families minister, said the investment will “help young people with special educational needs strive toward their ambitions, by making sure education is designed with the needs of students in mind”.

And David Russell, chief executive of the ETF, said: “Further education has an essential role to play in ensuring every learner in our country has the maximum opportunity to make the most of their talents, skills and ambitions. It is vital therefore that we place more focus, thought and activity on how we can better support our learners with SEND which is why this new programme is needed.

“We are pleased to be working on this programme with the three chosen Centres, on behalf of DfE and we look forward to supporting leaders, teachers and trainers across the whole sector on making this a success.”

Corrienne Peasgood, principal at City College Norwich, said her college was “excited by this opportunity to act as a hub for good practice”.

“There is a wealth of innovative partnerships and approaches in FE that enrich learning, enhance progression, and enable students with SEND to make a visible and valued contribution in their communities,” she added.

Mandie Stravino, chief executive at Derby College Group, said: “We are incredibly proud to be selected as a Centre for Excellence in SEND by the ETF – particularly during these challenging times when peer support and sharing good practice is even more important.”

And Weston College’s principal Paul Philips added that his college was “thrilled and excited to be delivering within the new centre”.