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Weston College is a UK finalist for creating outstanding results for students with SEND

Weston College is a UK finalist for creating outstanding results for students with SEND Weston College has been announced as a finalist for the Association of College’s Beacon Awards - Inclusive Learning Leadership Award supported by the National Centre of Diversity.

The College has been recognised for its transformational approach to creating outstanding progression results for students with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), and creating an ethos which celebrates inclusive practice which has driven the College’s mission, strategic plan and ambitions for all its students, regardless of their starting point in life.

Since 2001, the College has completely transformed its ethos, to create a culture change from being an ‘FE provider with pockets of inclusion’ to a ‘fully inclusive organisation delivering FE’.

The organisational wide change to empower students from all backgrounds to achieve, has been driven by its Principal, Dr Paul Phillips who has created a visible and highly celebrated culture of inclusion with an ‘person centred’ approach to progression.

The whole college approach to ‘inclusive practice’ has ensured that SEND students achieve comparable outcomes to those who do not – leading to the College being recognised as one of three UK National SEND Centres of Excellence.

Principal and Chief Executive, Dr Paul Phillips CBE, commented: “It’s been quite a journey, if we rewind to 1981, the College had just eight learners with additional needs.

"Today, we are proud to have 1,316 SEND students, 511 of those with high needs undertaking a wide range of FE/HE courses, apprenticeships, and supported internships with 33% into employment, which compares to just. 6% nationally.”

"The aspirational place that inclusive practice holds within the College’s strategic plan, was even more evident in lockdown, with the Inclusive Practice team, having co-designed the College’s EdTech strategy – seeing its aspiration for ‘digital inclusion’ realised with 91% SEND pandemic attendance as a result of the hugely successful #MyVirtualCollege roll out.”

The Association of Colleges’ Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK colleges each year.

This award supported by the National Centre of Diversity and AoC seeks to celebrate outstanding examples of colleges who champion and practice inclusive leadership and demonstrate the values of respectfulness, inclusion and a sense of belonging.

Those who demonstrate innovative and excellent teaching and learning in one or more subject areas to enable students to develop excellent knowledge of inclusion- (FREDIE) fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion and engagement.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said: “This award showcases how colleges are centering inclusion in everything they do.

"Colleges are inspirational because inclusive teaching and leadership filters down to every area of college life and students have the opportunity to develop these behaviours. Colleges whose mission and vision reflects the society they serve is hugely important and gives students and staff a sense of belonging.”

The AoC Beacon Awards finalists were announced at the AoC FE Summit on Tuesday 17 November. Winners will be announced in Spring 2021.

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