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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Oswestry’s Derwen College wins national award

Derwen College has won an award for its outstanding work in helping young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) reach their full potential.

Abi Baker and Sam Brown of Derwen College with Dorothy Muir, National Engagement Manager at Brain in Hand and Dominic Holland, nasen 2021 Award Host
Abi Baker and Sam Brown of Derwen College with Dorothy Muir, National Engagement Manager at Brain in Hand and Dominic Holland, nasen 2021 Award Host

The college won the Award for 16-25 Provision at nasen’s fifth annual Awards at a glittering ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London on Friday 15 October.

The awards are hosted by nasen – the National Association for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – and supported by official media partner, Schools Week. nasen is the leading membership charity that exists to champion, connect and support those working with, and for, children and young people with SEND and learning differences.

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Scooping the nasen Award for 16-25 provision, Derwen College was recognised for going above and beyond to support residential and day students with a wide range of complex needs, disabilities, and autism during the pandemic – ensuring that each and every student was motivated, engaged and learning, whether at home or in college. Embracing online tools, staff ensured everyone stayed connected with Sports Day, Prom, Graduation, weekly sports challenges, national skills competitions, Makaton sessions, and even a Pet Show, all going ahead virtually.

Derwen College joins 12 other award winners who were judged by a panel of leading professionals – who have a wealth of experience in education and SEND – as well as individuals with lived experience.

Derwen College Principal and CEO Meryl Green said: “We are over the moon to have won such a prestigious national award which acknowledges our commitment to providing outstanding opportunities for young adults with special educational needs and disabilities.

“We are particularly proud that the efforts of staff across all areas of the college have been acknowledged. Across the board, staff showed imagination and a commitment to deliver learning, care, work experience and support to students – some in college, and some at home – through the pandemic.

“Thank you to nasen for highlighting the passion and commitment of our inspirational Derwen College team.”

Chief Executive of nasen, Annamarie Hassall MBE said: “The team at Derwen College should be extremely proud of their achievements. I am thrilled to be able to spotlight the team’s hard work and inclusive best practice supporting their young people with SEND, particularly for individuals with autism and complex needs, to engage with learning, embrace online technology and support the local community. They are an inspiration to the wider SEND and education sector.”

“As CEO at my first nasen Awards, I was humbled by the calibre of nominations and the incredible work schools, individuals and organisations are doing to achieve such fantastic outcomes for children and young people with SEND and learning differences. This past 18-months have been particularly challenging for us all and have greatly impacted the educational experience of all children and young people. At nasen, our vision is to achieve an educational experience for learners with SEND that is consistently as good as it is for learners without SEND.”

For those students who remained on site at Derwen College, work placements at the college’s vocational pathways were totally reimagined. Students opened a takeaway food service, providing hospitality and food work experience. The college even converted a classroom into a charity shop during lockdown, which has now opened to the public, providing work experience in marketing, display and customer service, alongside raising vital funds for the Derwen College Charity.

Elsewhere, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards programme went ahead, with a large woodland area adapted to become a dedicated Duke of Edinburgh’s site where students could safely practise their expedition skills. When restrictions were lifted, expeditions proceeded, with 65 students going on to receive Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates.

Dorothy Muir, National Engagement Manager at Brain in Hand said: “We are honoured to sponsor the 16-25 Provision Award and put the winners, Derwen College, in the spotlight for winning this award.

“Transition can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Between these ages, young people are expected to overcome so much change: go to college and university or start employment. We are passionate about recognising settings, like Derwen College, who go above and beyond to promote inclusion, and provide exceptional provision for others.”

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