City of Westminster College will provide outstanding education and training to enable our learners to achieve their full potential.
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:
- Mainstream courses with learner support
- Specialist courses specifically for students with complex, severe or moderate learning disabilities.
The specialist courses for young people with a learning disability are based at the Maida Vale Campus, offering high quality facilities including a multi-sensory room, accessible personal care rooms, small sanctuary space, specialist classrooms with ceiling tracker hoists and state of the art kitchens.
To access one of our specialist courses you must have an Education, Health & Care Plan. This is something that you will need to speak to your current school SENDCO and local education authority about.
For students on our specialist courses, we ensure our staff are there to meet students from transport 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 member of staff on gate duty.
Before students come to us on a full-time basis students will participate in a college taster day. Allowing 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.
Our specialist courses fall into 3 strands:
- Complex needs (PMLD)
- Independent Living
As a college, we aim to provide a positive, safe, consistent, motivating and enabling environment, where all students can learn and thrive. The curriculum is designed to deliver the Preparing for Adulthood outcomes, and great emphasis is placed on students developing skills needed for independence and active participation in the community. All 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 progressing 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 Centres where the focus is on physical well-being as well as independent living skills e.g., showering. Sessions include Sports for Confidence, which are led by an Occupational Therapist.
The innovative & British Association for Supported Employment award-winning mini-jobs forms a key part of the employability curriculum. There are currently 19 paid, part-time positions at the Maida Vale and Paddington campuses, ring-fenced to supported learning students. All students on the employability strand have the opportunity to apply, and the process includes a job fair, skills matching, completing an application form and supporting statement, an interview and a skills test. Successful applicants are supported to develop employability skills through real life experience of the world of work.
The college employs a supported Employment coordinator, who manages the mini-job scheme and also supports students to find external work experience placements often as a component of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.
The college has two speech and language therapists based on-site, who provide staff training and support, and deliver lunch clubs and targeted group interventions such as Attention Autism, SMILE therapy, conversation builders, language for thinking and craft therapy.
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 addition to the specialist provision at Maida Vale, City of Westminster College also run Supported Internship programmes. These are full time work-based education programme, which are delivered over one academic year, for young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan who are keen to progress into paid employment. We are currently running two internship programmes: Goldman Sachs and Westminster City Hall. Interns spend four days per week in the workplace, completing three different work rotations over the year. One day per week is classroom based learning, including English & maths. Interns are supported by Job Coaches, a Supported Employment Advisor, and a workplace mentor.
SEND offer links in other London boroughs.
- City of London
- London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
- Tower Hamlets
- Waltham Forest
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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. 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, with the majority ranging from 5-8. Within each class there is a teacher and at least one learning support assistant for our Employability students and three LSAs for our Independent Living students. Students with Complex Needs are supported at least 1:1. 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 are able to provide individual support as required. Each student’s support is regularly reviewed by the tutor.
What does the college curriculum look like?
The college runs a number of specific courses within the 3 strands:
- Learning for Living (including a Complex Needs group)
- Learning for Work
- Preparing for Adulthood
- Skills for Work
- Pre-Supported Internship
Courses are designed to enable internal progression.
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 courses 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 student records. The college also has a policy of learning walks, these are a series of short-drop in observations that follow a particular theme. These are then analysed at course, faculty, programme and whole college level. 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 learning support meetings, as well as faculty assessments boards with the management team so that all staff are up-to date with student achievements. Priority goals set in the student’s 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 Education, Health and Care Plan 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. 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 & Preparing for Adulthood 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.
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 the college 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. Students have access to a trained Mental Health and Well-Being Officer.
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 representatives 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 Curriculum Manager (Gemma McCarthy) 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.
College support staff 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. For some learners within the complex needs hub they are accompanied by their borough allocated nurses.
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. We have two fully accessible changing rooms with ceiling tracker hoist facilities so are able to meet the needs of wheelchair users within the complex needs hub.
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 training. Where students need specialist support, relevant members of staff will be trained in how best to meet their needs, and the speech and language team have a staff training programme. Furthermore, the local authority may commission professionals who deliver specialist input, e.g. speech and language therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy to come into college to support individual students with specific needs and to train staff. 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.
All students learn in variety of ways outside the classroom and some groups participate in residential trips for the expedition component of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We believe very strongly that our students need to learn new skills and apply existing ones in real life situations, and 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. Students on the Employability strand will participate in an external work experience and/or voluntary work placements.
Does the college offer work experience and any vocational opportunities?
All students in the employability strand take part in work enterprise projects and work experience placements.
We have a well-developed Employability curriculum and students participate in world of work/employability lessons and mini enterprise projects e.g. tuck shop and catering delivery services. In additions the college employs a supported employment coordinator who is responsible for co-ordinating supported employment services for students and running our paid Mini Jobs Project.
How accessible is the college environment?
We are in a renovated building, most of our classes are based on the ground floor and we have wheelchair access to the building and facilities in the classrooms.
The majority of our main facilities are based on the ground floor of the Maida Vale Campus - including a multisensory room, sanctuary area, and state of the art domestic and catering teaching kitchens. Our room on this level are wheelchair accessible and our two complex needs classrooms are fitted with ceiling tracker hoists as is our spacious personal care changing and wet room. Our kitchens are fitted with higher and lower sinks, adjustable height work surfaces as well as hide and slide ovens to allow better access. Within the building there is lift access (platform lift) to the majority of teaching spaces. We are able to offer higher and lower tables within all our teaching spaces if required. These are also readily available within our new canteen. 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. Whilst not a locked door facility we do have gated access to the building and a very supportive security team who are alert to the needs of our students.
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. At the end of their course some students have progressed onto social care funded provision such as day centres and community access. Others have gone onto Supported Internships, other college courses or ventured into the world of work