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Improving employment opportunities for SEND learners at London South East Colleges

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London South East Colleges is one of eight Further Education providers to be included in the Education and Training Foundation’s (@E_T_Foundation) Centres for Excellence in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (CfESEND) programme.

The College’s outstanding SEND provision will become one of the new employer spokes across the country – maximising existing employer relationships and creating new ones to support learners into fulfilling jobs.

The ETF’s programme will bring FE providers together with employers from a range of industries, demonstrating how businesses can benefit from diversifying their workforce.

The College will focus on connecting local employers from different industries with people with SEND, showcasing their skills and suitability and illustrating the benefits of diversifying business’ teams.

This activity will build on the College’s own expertise, with events centred around creative arts and sports and leisure in partnership with a variety of employers.

Dr Sam Parrett CBE, Group Principal and CEO, London & South East Education Group says: 

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“We are delighted to be part of the CfESEND programme. This will enable us to build on the successful work we are already doing with local and regional employers to support our SEND students into fulfilling employment.

“We have lots of activity planned, hoping to create partnerships with new businesses and provide them with advice, guidance and support. SEND learners can bring so much to a business and we want to showcase these benefits to employers, learners and their families – as well as helping to improve practice in colleges to effectively support employability.

“Our supported internship programme is already helping up to 50% of our SEND leaners secure jobs in many different sectors – against a 6% London average. We are keen to share best practice with other colleges and further develop our provision, so we can support even more learners into work.”

Teresa Carroll, National Head of Inclusion at ETF explains: 

“As the country recovers from the effects of both Brexit and the Covid pandemic, learners with SEND are a huge untapped resource to employers and businesses. Eighty one per cent of non-disabled people are employed whilst only 52% of people with disabilities are employed, hiring people with SEND is not just the right thing to do, but makes good business sense too.”

The CfESEND programme provides expert support for leaders, managers and practitioners who wish to put learners with SEND at the centre of their organisation as part of a Department for Education (DfE) funded national programme. The Centres are hosted by Weston College, Derby College and City College Norwich. The programme began in 2019.

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