SENAD building on 20-year success story with Derby College

Ginette Clarke, Group Training and Development Manager for SENAD Ginette Clarke, Group Training and Development Manager for SENAD

Strong success rates, high levels of competence and a deep understanding of its business needs have made Derby College the training provider of choice for SENAD Group.

The SENAD Group, whose head office is based in Derby, runs specialist schools for children and young people with special educational and/or care needs, as well as community support, transition services and homes for adults.

Currently employing around 1,300 staff, the group forged its relationship with the college nearly 20 years ago and it is now looking at ways to build on that relationship.

And, over that time, Derby College has delivered NVQs, diplomas and other qualifications in a wide range of different disciplines to several hundred staff working in SENAD’s East Midlands' schools and care services.

Training is delivered in areas including administration, teaching, maintenance and care.

The group’s three main sites within Derbyshire are Alderwasley Hall School and Sixth Form Centre near Wirksworth; Pegasus school at Caldwell near Swadlincote and Bladon House School, near Burton.

SENAD also runs Aran Hall School in Wales and Rowden House School in Herefordshire, as well as a number of adult homes within the West Midlands learning campus.

Ginette Clarke, group training and development manager for SENAD, said: “Derby College delivers well, and success rates are good. They have the occupational competence which we need, and having worked with SENAD for some time, they understand the individual service users we work with and are adaptable when needed.

“Predominantly, Derby College provides our training in residential childcare and we also work with them for some assistant teaching qualifications and some management qualifications.”

She said the college supports learners to achieve on site, and the assessors work “very closely with the managers and my team to make sure that everything co-ordinates well and with a minimum of fuss.”

SENAD and Derby College are examining how they can extend their links in the future by possibly increasing teacher and learner qualifications into next year.

“We’re looking at some of the short courses, around autism awareness and medication awareness, Ginette said. “There is a whole suite of short courses that we can now offer to staff.”

Managers meet monthly with assessors in attendance to discuss “openly and transparently” any issues which may have arisen.

Ginette said Derby College offered a flexible delivery model and SENAD and the college were examining in what areas it was possible to deliver more training on site to the benefit of both parties.

Key account managers have a sound working knowledge of the care sector, and Derby College’s rates are competitive.

SENAD and Derby College are working together on the best ways to effectively utilise Government’s apprenticeship levy to meet the group’s business needs.

Under the scheme, people on apprentice training need to spend 20 per cent of the week undertaking off the job training.

She added: “The levy is still in its infancy but so far it’s been working well. Rather than teaching very young apprentices, we are upskilling our existing fulltime employees on apprenticeship programmes. They are in a job role, so that makes the 20 per cent requirement more of a challenge than perhaps for a trainee or young apprentice.”

Ginette said SENAD uses the apprentice programme to develop its people in support roles, which can be demanding.

Staff are paid at the level they are working at, with the group committed to putting everybody who passes their probation onto a qualification course.

She added: “We’ve got a very good level of involvement with the college and we know what their portfolio and training offer looks like, so wherever we’ve got a need within Derbyshire, they are the first people we speak to in terms of the support they can offer.”

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