North Hertfordshire College

Mission Statement

North Hertfordshire College provides specialist courses for young people aged 16-25 with learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD) within the Supported Studies department. It is a very well-established and high performing department with a range of entry level courses offered to students with moderate and severe learning difficulties.

The aim is to provide opportunities for students to develop their independent living and employability skills, to gain self-confidence, to access the local community and to develop friendships in order to fully prepare them for adulthood. Close working relationships with local employers and other providers ensure that young people are provided with a rich curriculum which includes work-based learning as part of work experience or whilst on a supported internship or working for a number of college enterprise initiatives.

North Hertfordshire College is unique in offering supported housing at Briar Patch in Letchworth which is run in partnership with Genesis Housing. Students aged 18 – 25 learn independent living skills in their home at Briar Patch whilst attending a college course and can live there for between 1- 4 years before progressing to alternative and less supported housing provision within the local area or other parts of Hertfordshire.

How we support your child's learning

Learning support is managed by the college’s Support Manager who works closely with the Head of Curriculum, the Deputy Head and also the LLD Partnership Manager who has the strategic lead for the SEND reforms.

Pre-entry information gathered as part of the school link provision, transition assessment visits, reports shared by schools or Connexions equip college staff with the necessary detail to determine what support is required. All sessions are staffed by a specialist tutor and learning support staff who support young people within a small group. Additional support may be provided for individuals as an outcomes of assessed needs. Depending on individual learning needs the following type of support is provided:-

• Basic skills support
• Additional time to process and respond
• Breaking down, re-wording and checking understanding of instructions
• Check understanding regularly
• Break down large tasks
• Differentiating learning to meet individual needs e.g. task, resources, level of support in order to provide access to all
• Ensuring safety of students in off-site setting
• Medical needs e.g. epilepsy, epipen
• Access to support on site during breaks
• Support intervention for behavioural needs
• Greater supervision when accessing the community or work based learning
• Job coach support
• Travel buddy support
• Particular support related to sensory needs e.g. communicator
• Personal care within college and off site
• 1:1 support for students with specific learning needs such as ASC, BESD as required
• 1:1 support owing to safeguarding issues or additional health and safety needs
• Specialist therapies such as SaLT or art therapy as appropriate
• Counselling available via Student Services

At the college’s Stevenage Campus a designated room is available for young people to use if they require time out of the classroom.

Mainstream support in college is supplied by ALS team which has four permanent coordinators who have a dual function as learning support assessors and specialist out of class teachers. A team of 13 permanent and 20 agency Inclusion assistants provide specialist in-class support. Support in class may be 1:1 or it may be carried out with a small group of students and where necessary can be extended to cover all breaks. Where over-learning is required this is often carried out by the inclusion assistant who has been present in the lessons with the student. Any personal care requirements are carried out by two inclusion assistants.

Following an interview with the student and relevant parties a support plan is drawn up by the coordinator. This details the following: the level of support, differentiated strategies for teaching and learning and recommendations for use of assistive technology.

Where in class support has been recommend the inclusion assistant will liaise with the student and the teacher and carry out the support plan as agreed by the student and the coordinator.

Out of class teaching is carried out by the coordinators. Specialisms include teaching students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum conditions, hearing impairments and visual impairments. All sessions are focused on up-skilling literacy and numeracy.

The learning environment is adapted to suit the needs of the individual through use of the recommendations in the support plan. In addition to teaching strategies the layout of the room and if necessary, the location of the room are all taken into account to support the needs of the individual. Students with a hearing impairment are offered the choice of a hearing awareness tutorial for the whole class so that their teachers and fellow students can experience the difficulties of a hearing impairment

Accessibility of our service

Areas used by students at college have full disabled access, with wheelchair ramps and easy access doors. Each site has at least one disabled toilet. The Stevenage college site also has a disabled bathroom which incorporates a tracking hoist system, changing bed and shower. The college have a portable hoist which can be transported with students to others sites. The buildings are accessible to wheelchairs. Some terrains electric wheelchairs may find difficult unless they are equipped with outside wheels. Hearing loops are available in some classrooms. The college have worked with Audiologists and those supporting people with a visual impairment and made adjustments/improvements where required. The college seek advice from audiologists and professionals working with the young person to review these on a regular basis.

How we identify SEN

Mainstream students have several opportunities at various stages of their journey to declare whether they have a learning need, a disability or a medical condition which will impact on their learning. Prior to an interview, the young person will be given information outlining the additional learning support on offer in order to enable equal access to learning. This information clearly outlines the process, the support available and key contact details. On the college application form, students are asked to declare if they have a learning need, a disability or a medical condition which will affect their learning. The same question is asked on the enrolment form. If a student makes a self-declaration, this information is passed directly to the Additional Learning Support (ALS) team. Once this information is received the student is contacted either directly or through the course team leader and an interview arranged. The interview is conducted on a one to one basis and the ALS assessor finds out specific details regarding the student’s individual learning need, disability or medical condition and how this impacts on learning. The type of support available is discussed and planned with a review at a later date. Students once on programme are also able to declare a learning need, a disability or a medical condition which will affect their learning through their course tutors, the ALS team and student services. In some instances, the referral is via the course team leader with the young person’s consent. This information is cascaded to the ALS team and actioned as previously detailed.

A mainstream student who feels s/he has unmet support needs can report this directly to a member of staff. The ALS team gather feedback from students at various points throughout the year. In the first term, health checks take place where each class is visited and observed to ensure support is effective. There are termly reviews that take place within the curriculum areas and regular one to one tutorials where these issues can be raised and feedback sought. The ALS team uses questionnaires to gather student feedback and further detailed feedback is also sought from students receiving ALS support.

How we support your child/young person

All students on a Supported Studies course receive extra support as part of the curriculum offer. Group sizes range from 8-14 with a tutor and at least one Learning Support Assistant (LSA) in each session. Additional LSA’s are also allocated to groups or individual students where there is an assessed need. If at either the pre-entry stage or following initial assessment, it is identified that a young person requires higher levels of support than the core offer, this will be identified in the study programme.

Young people living at Briar Patch have weekly tutorials and additional meetings take place when needed. Genesis Housing provide support on a daily basis to address any need directly linked to housing.

Each young person attending the Springboard provision receives additional support within the classroom and is assigned a key worker who provides pastoral support. Weekly meetings ensure that extra support delivered is both timely and regular with the option for additional key working sessions if necessary.

How we match the curriculum to your child's needs

In addition to the Lifeskills and Workskills programmes, vocational programmes are offered in Retail, Horticulture and Animal Care with the latter being based at a local farm and stables. For some students who need more flexibility, a specialist bespoke programme is offered which wholly address the young person’s learning needs and aspirations. Specialist level 1 provision is provided for young people with high functioning autism and associated communication difficulties, behavioural, emotional and social needs or mental health difficulties at Springboard. These courses are based in separate centres in Stevenage and Watford and offer a diverse curriculum offered including employability skills and personal development, maths and English, work experience, enrichment, community skills and art/drama therapy.

The support we give to your child's well being

Specialist counselling is provided by the Student Services department which is available either via self-referral or a college member of staff.. Additional support is provided by the pastoral system both within the department and with student services when issues are impacting on the continuation of a young person’s college placement. Young people can contribute their views through this process, in informal dialogue with tutors and learning support staff and through the student rep. system. Parents/carers and professionals working with the young person are also informed and where appropriate review meetings take place to agree strategies. The college has a code of conduct, ‘The NHC Way’ which is disseminated during induction so that all students are made aware of the college’s expectations regarding conduct. The behavioural policy focuses on support and includes a Positive Engagement Plan (PEP) in order to encourage students to modify behaviours, improve attendance and punctuality.

All courses include session on personal and social development and students are supported to increase their self-awareness. The pastoral support system enables young people to share any issues impacting on their emotional well-being and where appropriate, specialist support is sought either from within or outside the college. Specialist therapies such as SaLT, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are sourced via commissioning arrangements in place with the local authority. The Springboard provision includes art and drama therapy as part of its core offer and in addition there is close liaison with the relevant CAHMS teams to support those young people with mental health difficulties.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) training is delivered to young people across college and the appropriate use of social media and internet is also contained within a cyber-bullying policy.

There is a college Safeguarding Policy, robust procedures in place and a number of designated senior persons (DSPs) spread across all college sites and two are within the Supported Studies staff team. Safeguarding training is mandatory for all college staff.

The expertise we have access to

Referrals are made to professionals outside the college when required and may include:

• IAG from Youth Connexions
• Advice from HCC Supported Employment advisers
• Speech and Language therapists. Currently available on site for 2 days per week working with specific students.
• Occupational/physiotherapists
• Educational Psychologist
• Art/drama therapists
• Counsellors
• Medical advice
• Audiologists

The college can provide the support the student might require without the need to access multiple services in the community, therefore removing what is often a major cause of anxiety.

Information is gathered through assessments, observations, interviews and information sharing with other professionals, families, carers and the previous placement. These will all form part of the process to make arrangements for triggering additional learning support when required.

Training courses are delivered by specialists within the college or accessed from external providers. Individual staff members continuous professional development forms part of the professional development system of the college, and line managers, in discussion with the apraisee, ensure that CPD is current and relevant.

Within the Supported Studies department all staff hold teaching qualifications and have been trained in working with young people with autism/Asperger, Down's Syndrome, epilepsy, challenging behaviour, communication difficulties, attachment disorder, safeguarding, child protection and equality and diversity. A number of staff hold specialist qualifications such as Systematic Instruction and ELKLAN. All learning support staff receive training in safeguarding, child protection and equality and diversity training and many have additional specialist training covering areas such as working with people with autism, mental health people who display behaviour which challenges, visual impairment and hearing impairment, using assistive technology, epilepsy, sign language and speech and language strategies. A detailed list of individual staff qualifications is available on request.

How we include your child in extra curricular activities

Work experience is provided for all young people as part of their study programme and additional support is provided where appropriate in order to enable access. Work placements are provided within the local area or where students live some distance away, close to their homes. Where young people require a supported work placement this is usually provided within the college e.g. the college shop or canteen. As part of the process, young people are able to state their preferred work experience choices with parents/carers frequently contributing to this process. The Supported Internship offer provides extensive work experience prior to employment with the company.

Weekly enrichment activities are included in each study programme which may include leisure, sports, local visits and external speakers. Student views are taken into account when planning this programme.

Within Supported Studies additional enrichment is provided which may include a residential, day trips to London, outdoor pursuits team building days and visits to museums and galleries. LDD students and their parents/carers are also informed about leisure activities provided within the community such as clubs. All Briar Patch students are supported as part of their independent living skills programmes to book onto leisure activities of their choice provided by North Herts organisation.

A parent’s focus group is planned from 2014-15 and views regarding enrichment will be gathered via this process.

Mainstream students are supported in all outside activities where necessary including enrichment trips, work experience and in some instances, residential trips.

How we prepare your child to join us or transfer to another setting

Members from the Supported Studies team attend school planning meetings, "Living Live" events, planning forums and liaise closely with Youth Connexions. On referral, the college will receive the information they need to start a baseline assessment. Following this, a robust process is in place to ensure that the college has all the information it needs from the young person, their family and other professionals to build an education programme tailored to that young person’s needs.

The college’s Support Manager will contact the school, young person and parents/carers to invite them to an initial meeting. Other professionals involved in the young person’s programme will also be invited to the meeting and/or asked to submit a report. This meeting is an information gathering session and helps the college and young person to identify aspirations and desired outcomes in order to inform the support/resources and equipment that might be needed.

An observation will take place in their current placement (if they are in education) and further meetings will take place with any therapists, teachers, nurses or other professionals involved. An individual’s needs are assessed by the college, medical team and therapists if required. These teams will then work together to provide the level of care and support the young person needs to reach their full potential and have all the relevant resources in place.

The young person will be invited to “taster days” or if they are very anxious about the transition a link will be put in place on a weekly basis for the last few weeks of term. This gives the young person a taste of what to expect prior to joining the college community. On commencing the course, there is an induction programme which introduces the young person to key staff, including education specialists, support staff and any therapists they may be working with.

For young people with moderate learning difficulties who are not ready to access a large mainstream college, North East Transition in a self-contained unit at The Valley School Stevenage offers a more sheltered introduction to college life.

Moving On
The staff within the Supported Studies Department work very closely with Youth Connexions Personal Advisors (PAs) to identify young people who may wish to consider a place at the Supported Studies Department at NHC after leaving school and liaise to identify the most relevant course. Preparation for the transition would usually commence two years before the actual start date. Course team leaders liaise with PAs to gain an understanding of how best to meet each individual’s needs and their educational aspirations to ensure they are signposted to the most appropriate course to reach their potential.For young people with moderate learning difficulties who are not ready to access a large mainstream college, North East Transition in a self-contained unit at The Valley School Stevenage offers a more sheltered introduction to college life. Youth Connexions PA’s provide IAG to support each young person making decisions about transferring to the next stage of their education and life. PAs meet with groups and each young person, to consider possible destinations and progression, throughout the year to ensure plans can be implemented in a timely manner to aid a smooth transition particularly if the young person is moving out of the department to a mainstream course or exiting the college. The parent’s consultation meetings in February, provide an opportunity for parents, young person, CTL and PA to review each young person’s progress and consolidate plans for progression at the end of the academic year, to ensure these can be implemented in a timely manner.

How we match our resources to your child

The study programme on offer is tailored to meet the needs of each individual young person. This ensures that an appropriate level of support is provided and the aim is to work with the young person to ensure they reach their maximum potential and lead as independent a life as possible. There is a thorough system of assessments to ensure resources are allocated and matched to the young person’s needs.

How we involve parents

Parents of mainstream students are given regular opportunities through the curriculum areas to give feedback and raise concerns. There are information evenings in the first half term, parents evenings regularly and reports provided on student progress. LDD students have weekly tutorials on a 1:1 basis where they meet with their personal tutor or learning coach to discuss progress against individual targets which the young person will have helped to set. Each young person has a personal development plan (PDP/ILP) where both staff and the young person comment on progress made. Springboard students have weekly key working sessions to report on achievement and areas for development.

Parents/carers attend an introductory evening in October where there are opportunities to feedback on progress and address any concerns and individual consultation meetings are held each February. In addition, parents/carers are contacted throughout the year as appropriate to feedback achievements or issues. They are also provided with the telephone number and email address of their young person’s course tutor so can contact them at any time. Young people, parents/carers are informed about the college’s complaints procedure and managers are accessible to meet in order to address any concerns.

Moving forward, young people, their parents/carers and external agencies will have formal meetings as part of the annual review cycle for the Education Health and Care Plan.

Within mainstream, the student has three planned reviews throughout the year. If an EHCP is involved there is a major review at the end of the academic year. However, the student has on going access to their linked inclusion assistant. The student and the parent/carer are also given contact details for the coordinator and are encouraged to contact them with any concerns.

Students have regular curriculum reviews of their targets and are encouraged to track their own progress through bespoke teaching and personal development passport (PDP/ILP) which allows them to chart their progress.

The pastoral system involves close liaison with parents and carers to establish a consistent approach to supporting the young person in reaching their potential. Regular contact with parents/carers is initiated pre-enrolment to establish a strong working relationship from the outset and answer any queries or concerns. This may include providing support with understanding college processes or completing forms. Parents and carers are encouraged to make contact with the course team leader whenever this is required to ensure the partnership is sustained and developed.

How we include your child in the planning of their support

There is a robust pastoral system established at the start and maintained throughout the duration of the course with the course team leader meeting each student 1:1 on a weekly basis. This ensures each young person has the opportunity to share their opinions or concerns and work closely with the tutor, enabling them to get the best out of the college experience. Teachers and learning support staff provide instant verbal feedback within the classroom on a regular basis in order to encourage and motivate young people and to provide guidance on how to make further progress. Formative assessment comments are also shared with students. The quality of both verbal and written feedback is judged through the college’s robust lesson observation process which judges the effectiveness and impact of high quality teaching and learning.

General Contact Information

Please contact the college via telephone or email.

Contact for more information

Monkswood Way, Stevenage, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 1LA
01462 424242