From education to employment


London South East Colleges’ Nido Volans centre has been named College of the Year in Pearson’s prestigious Shine a Light Awards 2019.

This national award scheme, now in its seventh year, celebrates innovative work and excellent practice in supporting the communication development of young people. Winners of the ten awards were chosen by a panel of experts within the sector.

The Nido Volans centre, based at London South East Colleges’ Bromley and Bexley campuses, provides special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision to students with moderate to complex needs across the region. Following a thorough initial assessment, staff are able to identify how each student can best access the curriculum, develop their communication skills and thrive.

The College works in partnership with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, offering a multi-disciplinary service comprising Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy.

In addition, several employability programmes with clear progression routes into employment are run, plus a personalised curriculum to support 80 young people with more severe and complex needs.

The College focuses on developing communication skills that are expected in the workplace –  and supporting students to establish these in college (by working in the shop and kitchen/café on site) before going on to utilise the essential skills in work placements.  As a result of this work, an impressive 50% of students on the College’s supported internship programme go in to employment, against a London average of just 6%.

Rhona Sapsford, Assistant Principal of SEND at London South East Colleges, says: 

“This award reflects the very hard work of our staff and students – and we are delighted that this has been recognised.

Being able to communicate effectively is key to helping students reach their potential and enables them to progress into fulfilling work after college.

“I am grateful to the whole team at London South East Colleges – and to all our partners, including Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust for their dedication and commitment to our inspirational students.”

Actress Sally Phillips hosted the awards ceremony alongside Lee Ridley – better known as the ‘Lost Voice Guy’ who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2018. She said:

“London South East Colleges provides fantastic communication provision for their students. As a nation, it is vital that we ensure that all children have the opportunity to express themselves, particularly when this ability has a profound impact on our future life chances.

“The amazing winners and highly commended finalists of the Shine a Light Awards prove what a difference we can make if we become informed, impassioned and engaged in the speech language and communication needs of those around us. London South East College isn’t just changing the lives of the students in their community but also across the UK. I have seen for myself the huge difference expert intervention and support provides for children, like my son, Olly, particularly at a time where we face a nationwide shortage of speech and language therapists.”

Robert Reilly-Craig, Head of Clinical Assessment at Pearson, said:

“Congratulations to London South East Colleges for their well-deserved award. We are proud that the Shine a Light Awards have become a key event in the speech, language and communication communities’ calendar. Pearson has supported these Awards for seven years to ensure that recognition and accolade is given to a sector that does not enjoy the same public recognition as other issues, such as literacy or numeracy.

“It is critical that we understand the challenges faced by those who have speech, language and communication needs, as well as the solutions that can help them. These Awards enable us to showcase best practice and inspire others to improve their practice.”

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