For information on Mainstream Courses click here.
All specialist providers share a common goal i.e. to make a difference, to help learners achieve success, to enjoy college, to be happy, to feel valued and respected. At City of Westminster College we welcome learners with learning difficulties or disabilities and provide support to make sure you achieve your goals and aspirations. There are two main pathways for learners with learning difficulties or disabilities:
1. Mainstream courses with learner support
2. Specialist courses specifically for students with complex, severe or moderate learning disabilities (This booklet will focus on these courses)
We are proud to announce that our specialist courses have just moved (September 2017) into our newly renovated Maida Vale Campus. This is an exciting move for us as we are now able to offer lots of new facilities and opportunities for our students, including a multi-sensory room, large accessible personal care room, specialist classrooms with ceiling tracker hoists and state of the art kitchens. In order to access one of our specialist courses you will be required to have an Education, Health & Care Plan. This is something that you will need to speak to your current school SENCO and local education authority about.
For students on our specialist courses we work closely with the local authorities around your transport to and from college, we ensure our staff are there to meet you when you arrive and support you to access college. We provide a range of support throughout the college day, many students are allocated one to one support and, all our classes have a maximum of 10 students (many only have four or five). We take all students safety extremely seriously and students are escorted to their transport at the end of the college day - there is also always a senior member of staff on gate duty.
Before students come to us on a full time basis they will either have had the opportunity to take part in our LINK course (two courses offered to our local special schools aimed at young people in their last year of school education. The main aim is to support students make a slow and effective transition from school into college life) or participated in a number of college taster days. Both routes allow students and families to make informed decisions about college, while allowing us to meet prospective students and carry out early initial assessments as to whether we can meet their needs. This results in students being placed on an appropriate course with access to dedicated resources supported by specialist staff and working towards their future aspirations.
College aims to provide a positive, safe, consistent, motivating and enabling environment, where all students can learn and thrive. Great emphasis is placed on students developing skills needed for independence and active participation in the community. The students access a variety of facilities in the local community, enabling them to consolidate and extend learning in real life contexts. This helps to increase the students’ confidence and skills in a range of everyday living skills, offering age-appropriate motivational learning experiences and positively progress towards adulthood. Community participation may take the form of visits to local cafes where communication skills, social interactions and money management are the key focus of learning.
Alternatively it may involve students accessing community sport facilities such as one of the Everyone Active or Better Leisure Centres where the focus is on physical well-being as well as independent living skills e.g. showering. For students on our Preparing for Adulthood, Learning for Work, Skills for Work and IntoWork courses this will also involve external work experience placements. College employs a supported employment coordinator who assists in finding students relevant work placements, volunteering opportunities and oversees the college mini paid job scheme.
City of Westminster College is a member of the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE), we were delighted to win the BASE Innovation Award 2016 for our mini paid jobs. The mini paid job scheme provides students with the opportunity to research the jobs, complete an application, attend an interview and undergo the college’s recruitment process in order to achieve a fixed term contract and gain paid work. Jobs are carved out across our two college sites and ring-fenced to our students, successful candidates become full college employees and achieve meaningful paid employment. This supported approach to work is the ideal first step into employment, students become familiar with recruitment processes, earn money for the first time and develop a great sense of achievement.
We are continuously trying to improve the service we offer and the opinion of those accessing college is important to us. We work in creative and innovative ways to get the views of our students in addition to sending out surveys to families to complete. The students’ voice is also represented by participation in their EHC plan annual review meetings which follow a person centred approach. The students are encouraged and supported to communicate about what is important to them, and to identify what they can do well.
There is no set progression route from college, we work with students, families, carers and other professionals to ensure that post college placements meet the learning needs and aspirations of each individual student. We strongly believe that every student should be supported to achieve realistic aspirations, in order to achieve this we ensure their learning is robustly planned with individual learning plans, monitored and recorded to evidence learner centred outcomes.
For information on Mainstream Courses click here.City of Westminster College will provide outstanding education and training to enable our learners to achieve their full potential.
What do I do and who do I contact if I think your college might be right for my child?
Parents/carers who would like to find out more about college are welcome to arrange an appointment to come in and look around. Staff would be delighted to meet you and explain the work of the college. Staff can also help you with the application process.
Please contact us via e-mail LLDDapplications@cwc.ac.uk or alternatively phone Patricia Ayinde (ALS Administrator) on 0207 258 2822.
How does the college know if students need extra help?
Before you come to college we will talk to your teachers, parents/carers and other people that know you to find out about your needs.
At City of Westminster College, we follow a rigorous process to identify students who need extra help. Prior to admission, we consult with the student, their family, and professionals in the student’s previous setting to ascertain their educational needs. We attend reviews during the final year at school and request access to EHC Plans and other reports. Students are also observed by experienced teachers during their taster days and/or on the college LINK course. Experienced members of staff will on occasion go and observe students at school to see what extra support they currently have and see how it is used.
How will college staff support a student with special education needs?
The college employs learning support assistants and we have small class sizes. All of our classes benefit from very high staff to student ratios. The maximum size of our tutor groups is 10 students (class sizes range from between 4 - 12 depending on support needs). Within each class there is a teacher and at least one learning support assistant for our MLDD students and three LSAs for our SLDD students. College consults with the student, family, external professionals and teachers to be able to determine what the student’s exact needs are and what support will be needed to meet those needs. In addition, when students have specific medical needs or behavioural difficulties which require more support, we able to provide individual support on a one-to-one basis. Each student’s support is regularly reviewed by the tutor.
The tutor will create Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for students based on their initial assessment results. The ILP will outline the student’s specific needs and strategies to effectively support the young person, and will be shared with all staff. The management team will support staff to ensure that they implement the IEP appropriately, providing guidance and training where necessary.
What does the college curriculum look like?
The college runs a number of specific courses:
How will the college curriculum match my child’s needs?
Teachers and learning support assistants will make sure your child is learning things that are important to them.
The curriculum within each of these course will be tailored around the student’s specific learning needs. The college takes a rigorous approach towards differentiation and provides targeted in-class support. All teachers use varied teaching-learning approaches in the classroom to enable all students to access the curriculum. Teachers also scaffold learning activities and questions so that students can successfully attempt and complete challenging work. In addition, teachers regularly assess students to monitor their progress, and use this information to provide students with specific support as necessary.
How does the college monitor the progress of my child?
We monitor the student’s progress regularly, as well as adapting their lessons and targets as necessary.
Senior staff undertake regular classroom observations and scrutinise teacher planning and pupil records. Termly progress reports are completed by tutors/teachers to ensure that any gaps in progress are identified and addressed. Progress reports are also discussed in course team & Learning support meetings, as well as college assessments boards with the management team so that all staff are up-to date with student achievements. Priority goals set in the student’s LDA/EHC Plans are broken down into smaller step targets which are evaluated termly.
When will parents be able to discuss a child’s progress?
We have parents evening twice a year and an annual review.
Formal Annual Review meetings take place once a year and parents have further opportunities to meet with their child’s teacher each term, to discuss progress reports. Over and above these formal meetings however we actively encourage parental involvement in the education and development of their children. Teachers, and other staff, are available to meet with parents, by appointment, whenever you have a concern.
The majority of students (on Learning for Living courses) have ‘home college diaries’ which are completed daily by either the teacher or learning support assistant. These will tell you what your child has been doing during the day; highlighting any achievements or difficulties they have incurred. Parents are encouraged to develop a two-way dialogue with college staff. In addition tutors e-mail address and telephone numbers will be shared with you during enrolment.
What support will there be for a child’s overall wellbeing and pastoral care?
All students have an individual tutor and have access to a student advisor. We talk to people that are important to your child.
At City of Westminster College the student’s overall wellbeing is of paramount importance. Every aspect of school day is planned to maximise a positive and safe experience, encouraging students to form trusting relationships with their peer and staff. We have a canteen area where staff and students from all courses have the opportunity to eat together, and in break-time learning support assistants participate in activities with students. In cases where there is a wellbeing concern, staff will act immediately to address this—the student would be supported by their learning support, tutor or head of school as appropriate, and referred for additional support if necessary.
Students and families also have access to a student advisor who can provide advice about free school meals and financial support.
How does the college listen to students views? Our students are very important to us and we take their views seriously. The college values students’ views, and believes that they should actively participate in and take responsibility for their learning. We have adapted the college surveys to make them accessible, we regularly ask for feedback from learning support assistants supporting students. Students elect representative who join college forums and focus groups.
Students can always speak to any member of staff. They also know the designated adults, for e.g. their form tutor, learning support assistant or teacher who is responsible for supporting them during their college day.
Who can parents/carers contact for further information, or to raise concerns?
Parents can contact the tutor at any time, you will be given all contact details when you enrol.
If parents/carers have concerns about their child’s learning, progress and support within college, they should contact the tutor in the first instance. They can also contact the Heads of School (Phil Bunce / Anne Sheeran) if they feel this is appropriate.
How are students’ medical needs addressed in college?
We work closely with parents to meet your child’s medical needs.
All support staff members are first aid trained. Staff members are informed of students with specific medical or dietary needs. College has a policy for storing and administering medication. Where a student has complex medical or dietary needs, parents and staff will work together to establish whether these needs can be met.
How are students’ personal care needs addressed in college?
Learning support assistants can help your child’s personal care.
Our aim is to try to encourage the student’s independence as far as possible. We believe students should be involved in and consulted in their own personal care to the best of their abilities and have levels of intimate care that are consistent. All learning support assistants are trained in providing personal care. College staff will meet with school staff/parents to discuss and put into place appropriate levels of support. Information about student’s specific needs is shared where appropriate.
What training will the staff supporting children and young people with SEND have had or receive?
We update the training of our staff on a regular basis.
Our SEND training evolves year on year to best meet the needs of our department and our student’s needs. Tutors, teachers and support staff meet regularly throughout the year to discuss staff training needs and plan appropriate trainings. Where students need specialist support, relevant members of staff will be trained in how best to meet their needs. This might involve liaison with specialist professionals or delivered by external trainers. Further, professionals who deliver specialist input, e.g. speech and language therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy will depending on individual borough arrangements come into college to support students. We have a young enthusiastic and well qualified team of learning support assistants many of whom go on to become speech and language therapists, social workers or teachers.
How will students be included in activities outside the classroom, including college trips?
Many of the lessons involve going out and about.
We aim to include all our students in a variety of activities outside the classroom and some groups participate in residential trips. We believe very strongly that our students need to learn new skills and apply existing ones in real life situations, as a result accessing the community plays a major part in students’ college life. We are able to do this by ensuring higher staff ratios to support students with additional needs. Out of college learning opportunities are planned with students’ needs in mind and risk assessments are completed for all students; this includes travel training, community awareness visits to museums, galleries, local parks, tourist attractions, shops, cafes, concert halls and leisure centres. In addition some classes use local facilities such as swimming, the gym, leisure centres, companion cycling, etc. as an alternative to the college sports hall for physical education. Some students will participate in supported work experience and voluntary work placements.
Does the college offer work experience and any vocational opportunities?
As part of the curriculum students participate in world of work skills including mini enterprise projects. Some students participate in both internal and external work experience. Watch the video at the top of the page for more information about work experience opportunities for students with learning difficulties/disabilities.
The college employs a Job Coach who co-ordinates supported employment services for students with learning disabilities/difficulties.
Mini Jobs: Through our Mini Jobs Project, jobs are carved and are offered to existing as well as past students who then undergo the college’s recruitment process to succeed to the role. All student-employees are fully supported. These are fixed term contracts and are paid jobs.
ProWork: We have an on-going partnership project with The Camden Society and City and Islington College called ProWork through which students have benefited with paid jobs, work placements and volunteering. The project provides us with an Employment Advisor and Job Coach support.
Partnerships: We also work in partnership with various organisations such as Westminster Employment, Hammersmith and Fulham Volunteer Centre, Leonard Cheshire Disability and employers such as Boots, National Theatre, Co-operatives and local employers, which all provide work placement opportunities for our learners. Mini Enterprise Project: A project where Into Work students not only train in their culinary skills but also employability skills such as team work and customer service. They share the profits made at the end of each academic year.
Job Club: Weekly job clubs in partnership with Westminster Adult Education Services.
How accessible is the college environment?
We do our best to make sure that the building is accessible as possible.
At present we are in an old building, as a result not all areas of the college are wheelchair/accessible friendly. We do have lift and ramp access but it does involve accessing outside parts of the building. In September 2016, we will begin our transition to a new college building. Please do contact us if you are concerned about accessibility, and we will be able to provide you with more details based on individual circumstances.
How will the college prepare and support a child when they finish their course?
We will help your child to plan what they will do when they leave college.
We work with students on an individual basis depending on their aspirations. We work closely with families and other professionals to explore what options are available, this forms a major part of the annual review process for those students who will be leaving us.