From education to employment

Weston College wins prestigious Beacon Inclusive Learning Leadership Award

paul phillips
@westoncollege has won the prestigious @AoC_info Beacon Inclusive Learning Leadership Award 2020-21. The College has been recognised for its achievements in creating outstanding results for students with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

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 for Diversity seeks to recognise examples of colleges who champion and practice inclusive leadership.

Weston College won the award for its transformational approach, which has led to generating fantastic progression results for students with SEND, and also for 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 – this has also led to the College being recognised as one of three national Centres for Excellence in SEND, managed by the Education and Training Foundation.

Principal and Chief Executive, Dr Paul Phillips CBE, commented:

“I am absolutely delighted that Weston College has been recognised with this fantastic award. 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.”

Mark White, Interim Chair of AoC’s Charitable Trust said:

“The AoC Beacon Awards showcase exactly why colleges are so important to every community and why people value them. This award recognises examples of colleges who champion and practice inclusive leadership. The work of the winning college shows how colleges are adapting to diverse and changing markets and nurturing ideas and talent.”

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