We are proud to announce that our amazing SEND team won the Support into Employment gong at the 7th annual National Special Educational Needs and Disability Awards 2021. The National SEND Awards celebrates inclusivity for young people in educational and employment settings across the UK, demonstrating how organisations have been going above and beyond expectations to deliver and secure the best possible outcomes for their learners.
Our campuses are in the heart of one of the most diverse yet most deprived boroughs in London, with a prevalence of poverty and inequality, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. East London is also characterised by lower qualification levels, employment rates, and salary levels than anywhere else in 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 Supported Internship programme and into sustained paid employment.
We are one of the largest providers of Supported Internships in the country working in partnership with employers such as Project SEARCH at Newham University Hospital, SEND Coffee, ASDA, London Borough of Newham libraries and John Lewis/Waitrose. Interns work full time for 5 days a week at the host employer’s premises.
The pandemic has presented us with difficult and unprecedented circumstances, necessitating the need to implement alternative employment methods that went above and beyond expectations, for partnerships with employers and external agencies as well as for the interns and their families.
Interns and STEPS (Steps to Employment Pathways) students were provided with laptops as we switched to remote learning and tutors and job coaches were always available to ensure they were learning at the appropriate level.
For learners with internet difficulties or generally struggling remotely in any way, the team delivered learning packs to their homes, which doubled as socially distanced welfare checks for both interns and families, giving them the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns on any matters regarding their son/daughter’s anxieties and independence.
We also offered additional external support through our partnerships with external agencies including Our Newham Work, SCOPE and Talking Therapies, with sessions on benefits, mental health, COVID anxieties and employment skills, and enrichment activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
COVID restrictions and lockdown also inspired us to innovate – adapting work experience tasks within our learners’ specific job rotations, delivering 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 completed job tasks around the house that were specifically creative and interesting, as well as employer-related and included support from parents.
Interns also moved our E6 College Shop online and with ingredients sent to their homes, created a new menu item which is now sold in all SEND Coffee locations.
Ongoing support and innovation, pioneered during lockdown, will 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 gaining sustained employment. Newham Council’s Supported Employment Team at Our Newham Work will continue to work with and support families into employment after learners have completed the Supported Internship programme 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.
We are extremely proud of all the work that we do for our learners in the SEND department and especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard Daniel Curtis, Chair of the National SEND Awards said, “The employment market has been affected in so many different ways over the course of the pandemic, but despite this it is clear that Newham College showed a truly flexible approach to supporting their young people into work, something the judges felt was outstanding.”
The achievements of our learners are a testament to the Newham College’s 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.
Intrigued? Learn more about our Supported Internship programme and apply for our next intake in September.