CfESEND blog: Promoting inclusive workforces at the Centre for Excellence in SEND at City College Norwich

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

Front cover of the Inclusive Toolkit Employer GuideWith National Apprenticeship Week taking place earlier this month, I thought I would focus on the employment landscape for disabled people. Many of our apprentices have a hidden disability and our employers are keen to support them but require the knowledge and understanding to do this. Through our employer inclusive induction we share and talk this through with them using our Inclusive Toolkit Employer Guide. This effective practice of how we work with employers has improved understanding and knowledge of disability. The guide has been created to inform and support all employers in their work with supported interns, apprentices and T Level placements. It gives an overview of a number of different learning difficulties and disabilities, and strategies to support those people in their work activities and around the work environment. A digital version of the Inclusive employer toolkit is available on our website.

According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people. In 2020, 46.3% of working-age disabled people were in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate The recent Skills for Jobs White Paper and the review of the SEND reforms gives a direction of thinking, and we are hopeful of the opportunities/positives coming out of these reports and papers for learners with SEND. With the challenges facing the post-16 sector in delivering the aims and ambitions of the White Paper and the likely outcomes of the SEND Review for our learners with SEND, it has never been more important to work together and to keep sharing effective practice and FE provider leaders strategically investing in SEND.

The Government is also developing a National Strategy for Disabled People that will be published this spring. There is a public survey to gather views. The survey will remain open until Friday 23 April, and your views will be used to inform the delivery of the plans we set out, so get typing and make a difference through action.

There is an opportunity to create real change for learners with SEND, which is fantastic, and the FE sector is working hard to make a difference. There is evidence on how the system can provide the highest quality support that enables children and young people with SEND to thrive and prepare for adulthood, including employment. To help with this stepped change you can get on board and join the SEND Communities of Practice (CoP) and access resources and webinars. At the Association of Colleges (AoC) Leaders Conference recently, Dr Paul Phillips, Principal from Weston College, talked about inclusion being led from the top and driving change makes good business sense. There is an opportunity to ‘talk to the Principal‘ about SEND and to create a step change within your organisation with regards to inclusive practice. Our Principal Corrienne Peasgood is offering expert support and to share approaches of putting SEND at the heart of strategic thinking. Don’t delay and make a good business decision and contact us today.

Through our work together we are exploring how to improve outcomes for learners with SEND by preparing them for adulthood and to meaningful employment.

Evaluation feedback

With your support and working together we are making the step change to improve and bring about a culture of inclusion. For those of you already effectively engaged with us, we would be grateful if you could complete and return the evaluation and comment on the Centres for Excellence in SEND.

Please do tell us how our Centre for Excellence in SEND with a focus on community is able to shape and influence to support the SEND workforce. By completing the evaluation, this will ensure that we are able to deliver further support in the future and give the ETF and DfE feedback. Thank you and keep a watchful eye on the Centres for Excellence of the SEND site of the Excellence Gateway for resources, webinars and updates.

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


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