Education Partnership North East wins National Special Educational Needs and Disability Award

03 July 2024
EPNE Sunderland College SEND Award

Education Partnership North East (EPNE) has won the National Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Award for Inclusion in Further and Higher Education.

The award was granted after the vital work carried out by the group across Sunderland College, Northumberland College, and Hartlepool Sixth Form College, done, through several initiatives, including launching a SEND promise, introduced SEND Champions and hosting parental engagement sessions as well as parent and carer forums.

Peter Monaghan, Strategic Lead for SEND and High Needs at Education Partnership North East said: “We are honoured to receive a National SEND Award for Inclusion in Further and Higher Education. This recognition underscores our unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive learning environment where all students, regardless of their needs, can thrive.

“Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to support and empower every learner, ensuring they have the resources and opportunities to succeed. This award motivates us to continue advancing our mission of inclusivity and excellence through exceptional education.”

EPNE’s SEND promise is a commitment to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities receive the necessary support and resources, which SEND Champions dedicated to supporting young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Another key initiative, the Talent Pool, provides opportunities for students with SEND to carry out work experience across college business support areas such as catering and estates, in a safe and trusted environment before external work experience commences.

Successful educational sessions with key partners and stakeholders have also been held across campuses to create a community environment for parents and carers where they can share knowledge and receive support.

Jill Colbert OBE, Chief Executive and Director of Children’s Services at Together for Children said: “This award is richly deserved and is testament to the tireless work EPNE has done to create inclusive, tenacious, and engaging opportunities for our young people with SEND.

“The college group culture is infused with an earnest and real focus on inclusion. As a former governor, and one of the main commissioners of provision, I know they have driven a modernisation of SEND post-16 education that is a beacon of excellent practice. On behalf of young people and families in Sunderland we congratulate them on this fantastic award.”

Audrey Kingham, Executive Director of Children, Young People and Education at Northumberland County Council said: “'I am delighted that EPNE have won this award, our young people in Northumberland have access to education from an award-winning team.”

Amanda Whitehead, Assistant Director for Education at Hartlepool Borough Council, added: “I work with EPNE in different roles – as a governor and Local Authority representative and have always been impressed with the values that are evident which support an Inclusive approach to education.”

This year marks the 10th annual National Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Awards, celebrating the most inclusive practice for young people in schools, colleges, educational settings and employment across the UK, including Additional Learning Needs in Wales.

The awards were held at the Mental Health Education show in Leeds on 14th June. The event featured seminars and workshops across the day, with author and former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine giving a keynote address.

The National SEND Awards were first launched in 2015 to celebrate high quality effective special educational needs practice across the United Kingdom, as an opportunity for colleges, universities and independent training providers to showcase their inclusivity in a variety of areas including Most Innovative Special Needs Intervention, Best use of External Special Needs Professional, Excellence in Special Schools and Alternative Provision, Inclusion in Early Years, and Outstanding Individual Contribution to SEND.