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Beacon Award Commended College Synopses 2022/23 - The RCU Award for Support for Students


Runshaw College

ASPIRE is Runshaw’s college-wide personal development initiative that highlights the key aspects of personal development with a student-friendly and memorable acronym: A for ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP S for SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT P for PHYSICAL, SEXUAL AND MENTAL HEALTH I for INCLUSIVITY R for RESPECT, TOLERANCE AND DEMOCRACY E for EMPLOYABILITY AND CAREERS ASPIRE supports the promotion of activities and opportunities across college. With the weekly student ASPIRE magazine and ASPIRE mobile app, students are able engage with opportunities to support their personal development in several ways thus increasing engagement. ASPIRE has significantly increased student personal development opportunities through effective communication and feedback processes, allowing college teams to identify students who may need additional support and also by creating easy-to-access resources for students to identify the opportunities available to them. ASPIRE’s Enrichment engagement figures for 2021 were 3164 student engagements and for 2022, 10862 student engagements – a 321% increase in engagement. Study Zone appointments in 2020 totalled 247; in 2021 there were 325 and in 2022 there were 621 – a 251% increase on pre-Covid figures for 2020. 2020 CEIAG appointments were 1503; in 2021 – 526 and 2022 – 1653. These figures are testament to the success of the ASPIRE concept.

Exeter College

A unique, dedicated approach to raising the achievement and ambition of children in care and care leavers - both in our setting and regionally – funded in-part by our local virtual school. This in-house yet collaborative way of working means that we meet the needs of this vulnerable group of young people in a way that extends beyond our college environment. From the early years of secondary school, we are present and impact on a young person’s journey through to further education and into adult life. Our all-encompassing approach allows for each child in care to flourish and achieve their full potential.

Coleg Sir Gar & Coleg Ceredigion

At Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion we provide an opportunity for all learners to thrive. Our strategic purpose of inspiring learners, fulfilling potential and achieving excellence is facilitated by every learner becoming the best version of themselves . The bilingual learning support screening tool promotes an inclusive culture , enabling learner engagement and differentiation. It is a person centred approach that places the learner voice at the core of all our professional practice. Based on research evidence completed by the ALNCo, the Learning Support management team developed an online platform for all students to complete based on their individual profiles. It provides an opportunity for learners without a formal diagnosis or who have not previously disclosed an additional learning need and/or disability (ALN) to self-reflect and record the learner’s profile and neurodiversity. The Learning Support screening questionnaire then informs staff on how best to support the learner, and facilitates the compilation of the one-page profile and group profile. The process provides immediate feedback at the start of the academic year to curriculum teaching staff via EBS (Management Information System). It promotes self-awareness of individual learner profiles, to facilitate reasonable adjustments and in-class differentiation. Understanding that all learners are individuals and ensuring we meet their needs has enabled us to ensure all learners are fulfilling their potential and achieving their ambitions.

Solihull College & University Centre

The College is proud to acknowledge and celebrate the work of a highly functioning, mature, diverse and well-advanced Student Voice Executive Committee. The Executive Committee supports students across the College’s three sites through face to face and online interventions and delivers events throughout the year, culminating in an Annual Conference. Teaching and learning directly benefit from the work of the Committee and evolves through targeted initiatives including training for the staff body and the iteration of one-off sessions through to embedded and mandatory induction training. Committee members develop and display well-advanced transferable skills including emotional intelligence, critical thinking and observation and the ability to lead, motivate and inspire. The work of the committee actively contributes to an inclusive and empowered student voice which forms a vital part of the culture of the college. Students are supported to make meaningful and lasting change that has a wide reach within the college for example the design and delivery of mandatory staff training and student tutorials. Students are active collaborators in the development of resources, giving them agency and empowering them to speak up on the issues that affect them.

Landmarks Specialist College

Landmarks Specialist College supports learners to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for successful and productive adult life; we do this through a sequential curriculum, where subjects are used as a vehicle for learning to support learners to make progress towards bespoke personal targets that track soft skill development. The curriculum is divided into three distinct pathways which aim to support learners to achieve their long-term goals, through preparing learners for improved independence, employment, or further education (Developing Independence Pathway, Employability Pathway, and the Vocational Pathway). Learners are supported to develop a functional application of maths, English and digital literacy and to know how to keep themselves safe at home, online and in their community. Learner programmes are bespoke and planned around supporting learners to develop the key skills, knowledge and behaviour that they need to know to prepare them for adulthood. Skills are developed through the delivery of practical, hands-on teaching, which is enhanced through specialist therapy services for learners who need this support.

Hull College

This Beacon submission outlines an exceptional and innovative whole college approach to student support in 14-16 education which is transformational for our learners, their parents and our college. It annually involves over 168 students, 100 employers, two LEP partnerships and has been operating with exceptional success for the last 8 years. During this time, we have supported over 1355 young people to thrive in their learning environment, enabling them to improve their personal skills, their academic and practical abilities and their progression opportunities. Many of our students have chosen to leave school and complete their Key Stage 4 Education at College instead of mainstream education because they need a different form of teaching and support, they often have a disrupted educational background, may have been school refusers or have complex support needs. We enable many of them to be successful, often for the first time in their lives.

Telford College

It is a strong belief within the provision, and amongst stakeholders, that this team’s USP is the inspirational drive, unwavering commitment, and dedication to ensure that every individual accesses a curriculum that is completely bespoke and personalised to their assessed needs. Success and equity for students is achieved by meticulous planning throughout an early transition process and delivery of a holistic approach to ensure very high retention and achievement, above national averages. This outstanding team are determined to ensure that every student is given the opportunity to lead a positive and fulfilled adult life as a result of the range of high-quality support they receive at college. Staff at every level within the organisation are united in their belief that the overwhelming majority of young people with SEND and autism are capable of sustaining employment and living as independently as possible, which is why developing work & independence skills is at the heart of the curriculum. All staff have a highly skilled ability to ensure that the increasingly complex cohort of students with SEND and autism learn the most valuable and useful skills they need for the future through their involvement in a range opportunities.

Eastleigh College

Our Learner Hub is one of the most significant enhancements to Eastleigh College in recent years. Developed as a response to learner and stakeholder feedback, we wanted to design a facility that could centralise all support services across the College and become the core of campus life. Funding by the ESFA enabled to us to bring this ambition to reality and we now have over ten support teams based in the Hub, encompassing a range of areas, such as Finance, Safeguarding, Careers Advice and Counselling. The Hub has also become a showpiece for College functions and events, while it was further designed to maximise environmental impact, with big skylights for lighting, and improve wheelchair access through electronically controlled height-adjustable desks and low-level bookshelves.

Bridgend College

The college wanted to develop sustainable, meaningful progression pathways for students with additional learning needs and disabilities, preparing them for adulthood and the world of work. Committed to reduce the inequalities between disabled and non-disabled employment statistics across the UK, the college wanted to develop innovative solutions which would lead to meaningful paid employment for students. Recognising the valued and important contribution people with additional learning needs and disabilities could provide to the workforce with the right support, the college launched its first supported internship site with a major local employer in 2019. Now in its fourth year, the internship programme provides students with real-life extended work placements opportunities with departments across a host business, following the training, expectations and requirements of any other employee within the business. Students work a full working week, based solely within the host business, with the college providing a tutor and a trained job coach, working with a local supported employment agency. Since launching the internship, the college has launched a second site with a large national employer and developed an in-house programme which provides a stepping stone onto the supported internship programme, for students who need a more graduated approach towards independence and employment. The tutor and job coach ensure that interns are well-supported across the business, training and chunking tasks into manageable learning steps, where required. This reduces the impact and resource needed by the host business, who commit to ensuring that departmental mentors are made available to supplement the support provided to interns.

Oldham College

We have incorporated the 5 pillars of Contextualised Safeguarding (Collaborative; Ecological; Rights-based; Strengths-based; Evidence -informed) into our daily Safeguarding & Welfare activities and have developed a unique Safeguarding Personal Development programme. Students have applied their learning as part of a Greater Manchester campaign to challenge street harassment (Safer Streets) and help keep women and girls safe on and around Greater Manchester’s public transport network. We have worked with key partners to pioneer a new 'Street Doctors' programme which teaches young people emergency life-saving skills with a focus on injuries sustained from stabbings. This course has also provided young people with information about their legal rights if they get caught up in a violent situation, and builds their social and emotional skills..

Isle of Wight College

The College has a created a support department called The Hub. This team is line managed by the Head of student support and bursary and consists of 4 student mentors, 2 student information advisors and a student information and welfare administrator. This department has been designed to support students who may have additional support requirements that may be a barrier to them either successfully progressing or completing their course. The Hub is a separately branded department that is present both in curriculum areas and at the front of the college. Student mentors are allocated curriculum areas and ensure that they make themselves known to the students at their induction. Whilst curriculum areas may identify students who are most in need of additional support all learners are able to drop into the Hub and access the service.

Derwen College

As a specialist College we are proud to support students with special educational needs to be as independent as possible, and to be in control of their choices, environment and their future paths. In September 2021, we launched our Nurture programme for students with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Ensuring that our three new starters (we now have six students on the programme) were given the same control and ‘voice’ as all students, brought new challenges. Students with mobility issues, who were mainly non-verbal, could not communicate in the traditional way. But that didn’t mean that they couldn’t express themselves! The Nurture team have worked with students, families, Student Union Board, therapies and teams across College to ensure that students are given a voice through signs, symbols, technology and their actions. Staff take time to interpret responses and intent to understand what students want and need. We a proud to be a college with a determination to represent every student. Our students, who have a variety of complex special educational needs and disabilities, come to College from school, often being away from home for the first time, and treated as an adult for the first time. It is vital that students are supported to understand their rights, wield their new-found adult freedoms considerately, and understand the opinions and needs of others.

Southern Regional College

The SRC Health & Wellbeing Hub is the delivery mechanism for providing a one-stop shop for students to access all essential student support services within the College. Its goal is to ensure all students have access to services to support their emotional and physical wellbeing during their time at the College. The College has advanced key partnerships with statutory and voluntary agencies across the region to support delivery of our award-winning student support services. The Hub is underpinned by the College’s Health & Wellbeing Strategy, which is led by the College’s Student Engagement Team (SET). The aim of this initiative is to collectively offer all services under one umbrella, to deliver key health benefits for the student community. The Hub provides an onsite ‘Health Clinic’ operated by the Southern Health and Social Services Trust (SHSCT) and is funded through the Public Health Agency (PHA). This is a nurse-led clinic providing advice, support, and treatment on a range of sexual health and wider health issues. The Hub also provides a drop-in counselling service through ‘Inspire Students’, where an onsite counsellor is available to help students deal with any form of crisis. The Hub is also supported through delivery of a comprehensive Student Activities programme that includes, diversity, inclusion and health promotion.

Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT)

BCoT has always proactively promoted and implemented edtech to enhance teaching and student learning, While new technology and digital advancements have improved access to learning, we recognise we have a responsibility to ensure we also help students to manage the other side of technology’s attraction as well as the ongoing mental health issues post-pandemic. Wellbeing @ BCoT is underpinned by our Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Effective Learning 2021-2024 and the Digital Strategy 2021-26 which has refocused our commitment on using both digital and physical spaces to create a safe and inclusive place where students want to study because they feel valued and part of a supportive community. A place where students flourish and thrive and their physical and mental wellbeing is put at the heart of everything we do. This renewed focus has resulted in new wellbeing services across the college including The Haven, a new facility opened in September 2022 to respond to growing mental health needs; more support for our pastoral team; and a new mental wellbeing website to help students identify self help techniques whilst waiting for counselling support or an external referral.

Education Partnership North East (EPNE)

The cross-curriculum engagement supporting SEND independence sports coaching initiative was created in liaison with SEND curriculum management. The rationale for the project became evident due to a gap in the SEND curriculum regarding the embedding of physical activity to impact physical and mental health and wellbeing. In addition, the BTEC Level 3 Sports Coaching and Development students had, due to the global pandemic, little opportunity to engage with live briefs and coaching outside of their curriculum team. The Sports Coaching project was created and ran over a 3-month cycle where Level 3 BTEC Sports Coaching & Development Year 1 students would lead a combination of Communications and Independence SEND curriculum students. The project consisted of multiple phases including: Demographic and group/individual needs analysis, Profiling co-design of the delivery, Planning the sport activities inclusive of the demographic in liaison with key stakeholders across the organisation, Engaging in coaching delivery leading the SEND students through a variety of sport activity disciplines, Weekly reviewing and self-reflection of coaching progress, Peer reviewing and acting upon SEND student feedback to shape delivery through live reviewing of planning documentation, Conclusive review and reflective periods and summative feedback to ensure legacy of project, Rewards and recognition opportunities in closure Awards ceremonies. The aim of the programme was to develop key knowledge, skills and behaviours centred around communication, self-belief and independence. There was a requirement, especially post COVID, to reunite students, with the intent of bringing students together from diverse programmes. Transferrable skills including professionalism, confidence, resilience, accountability and rational thinking key anticipated benefits from the project. Students were well prepared for their next steps, barriers to physical activity for SEND students were removed and BTEC Level 3 students utilised these skills in progressing to employment and further study. The project-based approach is continuing, and growing, in 22-23 and beyond with new cohorts including higher education students coaching SEND students within the College group.

Salford City College

The project enables students with complex health needs and learning difficulties to access courses from Pre-Entry to Level 1 and beyond through appropriate and measured support in an open college environment, which acts as a bridge from specialist provision to the opportunities on offer in the wider community. The curriculum offer, from the Skills for Life and Employment department, includes a range of nationally recognised qualifications, which are restructured each academic year to meet the needs and aspirations of new cohorts. The curriculum is complemented by our Aspire/SHINE programmes, which enables students to develop skills in the following areas: Social Skills, Independence and Resilience Healthy Living and Leisure IT for Learning, Employability and Life This holistic approach enables students to develop their academic, employability, social, behavioural, personal and independence skills. Students’ individual areas for development are targeted in order for them to overcome barriers to progression and be able take full advantage of life, education, work, social and community opportunities. Students’ development needs are assessed and strategies are put in place to enable them to achieve and progress via a route appropriate to their needs and aspirations. The impact and sustainability of this can be seen in our year-on-year retention, achievement and progression data. This initiative provides educational opportunities for students with diverse needs and backgrounds, many of whom have previously attended specialist provision, or have a history of school refusal, and need support to access provision in an open college setting. We have a dedicated Transition Co-ordinator who works with schools, parents and students to provide bespoke transition and ensure that support, appropriate to students’ individual needs, is in place. The college has outstanding specialist staff and facilities, which it continues to develop, in order to ensure that students’ needs or backgrounds do not create barriers to them accessing further education. Early transition, which includes visits, taster sessions and open events, informs curriculum design for each new cohort. This ensures that our provision continuously develops with a growing capacity to meet the needs of students with more diverse and complex needs. We have consistently high retention, achievement and progression rates with no achievement gaps between any groups including ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic or learning needs. This initiative provides a high-quality support model, which identifies individual needs as part of transition, ensures resources and strategies are in place and continuously monitors and adapts individual support arrangement to meet changing needs and promote independence and progression. We have high expectations of all students and provide bespoke support to ensure they can reach their full potential, from individual starting point to aspirational destination.

City College Plymouth

The initiative was set up as a direct response to a significant degree of student poverty within an area of extreme deprivation. Approximately 18.6% of children currently live in poverty in our city, in some areas that reaches over 50%.  Through student demand, our food bank initiative was launched to provide sustenance and financial relief to those experiencing hardship. Through investigation and examination of individual needs analysis, it was evident that more needed to be done to ensure that students' health and wellbeing was supported to improve their access to education.  As our initiative developed we were able to provide additional services, culminating in our relaunch as CityPlym Community Support Hub in May of this year, including support for: food, clothing, personal hygiene products, sexual health, pregnancy, homelessness and fuel poverty support.  We also introduced a laptop/Chromebook loan system to provide digital support.  Throughout this project, controls have been developed to ensure openness and transparency is maintained at all times. Raising over £30,000 in funding, we have now provided over 300 students (multiple visits) with an unparalleled support service that is the envy of many, not only in the South West, but countrywide.