Tyne Metropolitan College is delighted to announce that they have been shortlisted for an AoC Inclusive Learning Beacon Award.

The AoC Beacon Awards, launched in 1994, recognise and promote the interdependence of Further Education Colleges, business, professional and voluntary sector organisations to their mutual advantage.  The aim of the programme is to highlight the breadth and quality of education in Colleges throughout the UK and increase understanding of Colleges' contribution to UK educational skills policy and economic and social development.

This nomination recognises TyneMet's commitment to positive and creative learner support with exemplary teaching and learning practices.  It also draws attention to continuous improvement and our pioneering approaches to equality and diversity.

The bid for the Beacon Award in Inclusive Learning was prepared by Christine Thompson, Head of the Preparation for Life and Work Department, at TyneMet College.

The learners on courses delivered by the Preparation for Life and Work Department are those who have Learning Difficulties and Disabilities and those who are at risk of missing out on education, employment or training between the ages of 16 and 24.  These include learners with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (including learners with very challenging behaviour), Profound and Complex needs and Moderate Learning Difficulties

The breadth and range of the curriculum offered at TyneMet College has been recognised by Ofsted as outstanding since 2002, providing teaching & learning activities that are well matched to learners' different needs.  The provision is person centred and based on the principles of inclusive learning, providing highly relevant, contextualised learning to support skills development and greater autonomy and independence in the wider adult community and workplace.

Personal and social development underpins the entire curriculum.  It is recognised that these developmental needs must be prioritised to make any progress with other vocational or academic achievement.  Work readiness, self awareness, self esteem and confidence and an ability to recognise and manage behaviour, are a focal part of the curriculum delivery. Expectations and standards are high providing consistently challenging opportunities for learners to make progress and develop as individuals to the best of their ability, equipping and empowering learners to solve their own problems, make their own choices and take control of their lives.

Opportunities to access a range of vocational areas and work placements encourage a greater understanding of the different areas of training and work available together with the skills development required to support progress to level 1 and 2.  Working in partnership with Remploy and Sainsbury's provides regular opportunities for training for work.  This year 5 learners have been employed as a direct result of this partnership. Students' Enterprise projects raise several hundred pounds for the local community and a range of charities each year and encourage an understanding of business and employability skills and Independent Travel Training programmes help ensure greater access to the wider community.

Partnership with the local Primary Care Trust provides speech and language and occupational therapy to groups and individual learners. The Department is also registered for Autism accreditation with the National Autistic Society.

Retention, achievement and success rates are consistently above national benchmarks and  support for learners is outstanding via a comprehensively embedded pastoral system utilising personal tutors, additional human support and assistive technology.

Learners can access the provision at any stage which best meets their needs on entry.  The structure of the Department gives learners the opportunity to stay between one and five years depending on need.

Originally established in 1980, the range of provision at Tyne Met College is unique within general FE locally and provides a much needed local resource for post 16 learners with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Christine Thompson, Head of the Preparation for Life and Work Department, at TyneMet College, said

"The Preparation for Life and Work Department at TyneMet College aims to provide specialised, extended educational opportunities and support in post 16 general FE for learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities.  We are a dedicated Department encouraging the personal, social and emotional development of our learners. We support individuals to achieve challenging personal goals to increase their independence and autonomy whilst also developing learners' skills to achieve effective transition into the wider adult community, further vocational or academic study and employment."

"I am thrilled that we have been shortlisted for the AoC Inclusive Learning Beacon Award in and look forward to show casing this outstanding Department during our assessment visit."