Improving Outcomes for SEND Learners in 2017-18

Strand 2: Study Programmes

ACER and Natspec, working in partnership, have led a successful new ETF project focusing on Improving Outcomes for SEND Learners in 2017-18.   Our project has helped providers design tailored Study Programmes that offer pathways to employment and adult life for young people with SEND. This has included support for curriculum design around the needs of young people with SEND as providers prepare to implement the Post-16 Skills Plan; developing aspirational and innovative pathways to employment involving high quality work placements, and working with a range of partners to develop programmes that promote independence and community participation. It has also included developing strategies to improve engagement and attainment in English and maths.

 Initial activity

The project started in May 2017 with four ‘Networking and partnership development’ events which ran in the North, Midlands, London and South West areas of England.  These open events were an opportunity for SEND managers and practitioners to interact through a range of workshops focusing on the ‘design and delivery of Study Programmes’. 

Four launch events; 6 June – Leeds, 8 June – Taunton, 14 June – London, 29 June – Nottingham

Development (October – February)

Clusters – collaborative working


We accepted applications from 15 lead providers to form ‘clusters’, 4-6 providers working collaboratively to share good practice and undertake activities to improve study programmes. 

Each cluster received £2,500 to work on the project between October and February. Cluster organisations have worked on a range of developments within study programmes with the aim of improving their design and delivery.  Examples of the themes explored are:

  • co-creation (with leaners) of the curriculum
  • Positive progression into Employment through Meaningful work experience for learners with SEND
  • Use of collaboration and differentiated assessment methods to improve progress
  • Transition year – positive transitions and progressing into employment
  • Skills competitions as a means of raising standards
  • Develop and strengthen content and quality of the pre-entry/sensory PMLD curriculum

Webinars, modules and resources

A series of five webinars has been developed, each webinar focusing on a specific aspect of design and/or delivery of Study Programmes.

The webinars (with ‘live’ dates / a recording of each session is available here):

  • RARPA – 30th November 2017
  • Supported Internships: First steps to setting up a supported internship – 11th January 2018
  • Inclusive Skills: Achieving skills excellence – 31st January 2018
  • Assistive Technology to support learners with SEND – where to start? – 1st March 2018
  • Making maths accessible for learners with SEND: effective techniques for developing maths skills, confidence and engagement – 15th March

3 online modules have also been developed as part of the project outputs.  The themes for the modules are;

  • External quality assurance of RARPA
  • Apprenticeships: improving access for learners with SEND
  • Personalising Study Programmes

These modules will be available on the Natspec website from mid-April 2018.

A bank of CPD resources and tools has been produced by the clusters and these will be made available to the wider sector via Natspec’s website shortly.

Innovative Practice event (Resource for London, 2nd May 2018) 

The clusters will share their learning at a final dissemination event on the 2nd May 2018. This is a great opportunity to find out more about innovative practice in study programme design and delivery for learners with SEND. We will be show-casing a wealth of newly developed resources including a range of practical tools, on-line modules and recorded webinars. Delegates will hear from colleagues about how they have tackled their quality improvement projects: from co-creating the curriculum with learners to preparing learners for supported internships to improving the transition experience. They will also have the chance to work together on some of their own SEND curriculum design and delivery challenges.

At a meeting with the ETF in April, we were advised that they are keen to extend our contract so that more of this highly regarded development activity can continue in 2018-19. 

The project was open to all providers in the FE and Skills sector.

For further information, please contact Clare Howard, Natspec – email: