2020 Awards

2020 was the inaugural year of the Natspec Awards.

We received over 50 applications highlighting excellent practice across the colleges, and produced a shortlist of 18 outstanding pieces of work across the specialist FE Sector.

The plan for a glittering awards ceremony at Natspec’s National Conference went slightly awry due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we announced the winners of 2020’s awards in a wonderful virtual ceremony in July.


The winners of 2020’s Natspec Awards were as follows:

Innovative use of technology: Derwen College

Pathways into employment: Camphill Wakefield

Student voice: Coleg Elidyr

Wellbeing and mental health: Ambitious College

Inter-disciplinary working: National Star College

Partnership working: Wargrave House LEAP College

You can read more about the winning entrants and the rest of the shortlist over on the Natspec website.

Awards Webinars

All the winners of the 2020 awards were invited to present a webinar sharing the practice they won an award for. You can watch all six webinars on our YouTube channel.

National Star: Interdisciplinary working with learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

National Star college principal, Simon Welch, and Head of Learning and Support, Joanne Kingsbury-Elia, discuss how they achieved successful interdisciplinary working with learners with the most complex needs. A key area covered is the benefits of integrating teaching, support, therapeutic, and care components of students’ individual programmes and maximising the impact for students lives after college. The development of the role of Personalised Learning Co-ordinator Tutor (PLCT), introduced in 2017 as part of the ‘Right Time, Right Place’ project, is a key aspect of this work. Due to the success of the pilot the project has expanded to include more students, across both residential and day provision, and proved to be invaluable during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ambitious College: Improving wellbeing via an innovative approach to delivering occupational therapy

Deborah Abson, Occupational Therapist at Ambitious College Conel introduces “OT TV”, an innovative approach to delivering occupational therapy. “OT TV” was developed from a library of sensory enriched movement routines originally compiled for one class at Ambitious College Conel. These were differentiated and developed to create further videos, enabling all classes within the college to access sensory enriched movements in college and at home. Additional videos were made to assist with activities of daily living with the possibilities of “OT TV” being endless and ideal for the current climate.

Camphill Wakefield: Supporting pathways into employment with the ACE programme

In this webinar, Raph Taylor, Supported Employment Manager at Camphill Wakefield, introduces the ACE (Access to Community and Employment) programme that enables students to take forward vocational and employability learning into the workplace. ACE builds and maintains successful partnerships with businesses, employers and other local employment-focused study programmes and supported internships. To address the challenges of Covid-19, the model is being adapted so careers provision and the ACE programme will align closer to meet student outcomes – developing enterprise projects with and for partner employers, and reaching out towards businesses with work opportunities that may meet their changing needs.

Derwen College: Using apps to support students into work

Helen Edwards, Marketing & Projects Coordinator at Derwen College, introduces the suite of apps that the college has developed to support students into work. Funded by The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, and working with a local app development company, Hunter Bevan Ltd, the apps cover a range of work related support. Starting with an app to support students working at Premier Inn, they then developed a customisable app for working in a café. The suite also includes an app that allows students to create their own CV with minimal support, using key words and Makaton symbols. Helen demonstrates how the apps work, and future plans for the project.

Coleg Elidyr: The Student Voice, Total Communication, in lockdown and beyond

Head of Education, Matthew Jefferson, introduces the work of Coleg Elidyr’s Student Forum and developments in Student Voice during lockdown and beyond. They share the different avenues through which students engage in voicing their thoughts and feelings about the college, and how this is heard, shared and actioned. Participation in student voice activities supports the development self-advocacy skills, skills for working collaboratively, and understanding the needs of others. The college’s Total Communication environment underpins the Student Forum’s effectiveness in ensuring the voice of all learners at the college is heard, collated and acted upon.

LEAP College: Community partnerships, work experience and a vocational curriculum

Julliet Doherty, Head of Post 16 Education at Wargrave House LEAP College, introduces the principles and practice which underpin the college’s award-winning partnership work with community organisations. The Friends of Lyme and Wood Community Project has developed from a small original collaboration providing work experience opportunities to a larger project with several other community partners. Students are part of a five-to-ten-year plan for park development and are “integral” to the community benefit of maintenance and development of park land and local environmental projects.