About the Awards


Welcome to the fourth year of the Natspec Awards.

The Natspec Innovation Awards recognise and celebrate innovative practice in the specialist further education sector. They shine a light on initiatives that have clearly resulted in improved outcomes for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Sharing the work of the award winners is part of Natspec’s commitment to supporting continuous improvement and raising standards in our sector.

The Natspec Innovation Awards do not seek to identify which college is ‘the best’ in a certain area, unlike some other education awards. Our focus is on unearthing exciting new practice which is enabling young people with learning difficulties and / or disabilities to achieve their goals.

Whatever the size of your setting, and however long your organisation has been a Natspec member, this is your chance to showcase innovative, effective practice and share your work with the sector.

Who can apply?

The awards are open to any specialist FE provider that is currently a full member of Natspec. Applicants must be willing to support Natspec to disseminate the learning from their projects. The awards are not open to Natspec Transform members or to general FE colleges.

What does award-winning practice look like?

The practice can be small-scale and carefully targeted at a particular student group or a whole college initiative. It must

  • be innovative and exciting
  • be relatively recently implemented rather than something that has become business as usual
  • have generated evidence that it has made a positive difference for students
  • provide useful learning for others in the sector.

Use our innovation checklist to help you decide just how innovative your practice is.

Key dates

Applications open

23 January 2023

Closing date for applications

29 March 2023 – at 4pm

Shortlist announced

by 28 April 2023

Winners announced

25 May 2023 in an online awards ceremony

Trophies awarded

13 June 2023 at Natspec National Conference

The Natspec Awards categories 2023

The eight awards categories are:

  1. Innovative use of technology
  2. Innovative routes into employment
  3. Innovation in student voice
  4. Innovative approach to mental health and wellbeing
  5. Innovative interdisciplinary working
  6. Innovative partnership working
  7. Curriculum innovation
  8. Innovative approach to equality, diversity and inclusion

Please note that the criteria used to select award winners for each category have been refreshed for 2023.

The judges

An independent panel of judges will choose the winners of the Natspec Innovation Awards 2023. They are as follows:

How to apply

Applications must be made via the online form on the Natspec Awards website. A limited amount of additional supporting evidence can also be uploaded electronically.

Natspec members can apply for any number of the awards categories. There is a maximum of one application per category. The same project cannot be entered for more than one category.

More details about how to apply will be available when the awards open for applications.

What the winners receive

Award winners will receive:

  • £250 CPD bursary
  • use of the Natspec Award winners’ logo on their college headed paper, websites and other promotional materials

Award winners will also be presented with a certificate and a trophy to keep.