We started the academic year with our first physical get-together in a very long time with the Homefield Welcome Party and art exhibition; it was so nice to have the students come together in a social event right at the start of the academic year. We then followed this with the return of the Christmas Party, which all the students and staff thoroughly enjoyed getting in the festive spirit as a whole college cohort. We also held a Welcome Fayre for students so they could find out more about the College, and the Christmas and Summer showcases with those students who participate in Performing Arts. Finally at the weekend we ended the year with our graduation and summer ball and it was lovely to be able to hold an in-person ceremony and celebration after so long.
We hope we are now able to look forward to a brighter future without the significant impact of COVID-19 on all our operations. We had a very challenging time just after Christmas with both students and staff being impacted at the highest level of the whole pandemic for Homefield College. The resilience of all meant that we were able to navigate our way through and hope that we can continue with some of the positives in our development that have come from operating through the pandemic. Most importantly we will be focused on being out in the community and actively engaging the students with society and using real-life learning opportunities to their fullest.
After 2 years, this year was the return of external work placements for students, which is a big step forward as we move out of the pandemic. We have seen some great successes with students and the ability to put their learning into practice with employers has been so developmental. We are working hard to continue to grow our range of work placements, so if you have any contacts with employers that might be keen to work with our students, please contact our Marketing & Engagement Officer, Claire Ellis-Ross, on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01509 815696.
Our enterprises Barrow of Treats and Breward's Coffee Shop have gradually reopened fully throughout the academic year providing students with great experiences in a real working enterprise to develop their skills. Next year Barrow of Treats will become a takeaway café and provide lunches for students who are eligible for free college meals to increase the range of experiences that the students can get whilst working in this valuable enterprise.
Our focus weeks have run throughout the academic year and provided the students with additional learning and awareness of key subjects. These have included, but not limited to:
Health and safety week where students also had a visit from the local fire brigade and first aid training.
Road Safety Week where it was great to see students getting involved with designing road safety bus stickers, playing road safety dominos and demonstrating great awareness of how to keep themselves safe when out near roads and public transport.
National careers week had a busy schedule for students, including employer encounters and activities around the 6 key career themes: balancing life and work, creating opportunities, exploring possibilities, growing throughout life, managing careers and seeing the big picture. It also included a talk for parents / carers with the Department for Work & Pensions.
Mental health awareness week which included fun in the field day.
Health and Sports celebration week which included a sports afternoon that all pathways participated in.
Throughout the academic year, our students have produced some wonderful pieces of work ranging from products created in woodwork, hair styles, baked goods, artwork, recycled product use, Christmas cards, production of vegetables and plants, performances, poems, blogs, budgeting and preparing for interviews, to name but a few.
The Student Union continued to run this year into its second year, and after a slow start, really gained traction with students being able to have an impact on their college lives. There are several working groups who are putting into action their thoughts and ideas which has been great to see. Students gain employability skills such as public speaking, presenting and teamwork whilst representing the student cohort.
We have developed our team of staff to include a wider range of roles so that we are able to continually improve the support and learning of students. These include within this academic year the addition of:
Work Placement Co-ordinator
Lead Practitioner to support the development of teaching, learning and assessment for students
Grown the team of Progress Mentors
Mental Health Practitioner
Additional Behaviour Specialist
In November we held 2 services for Remembrance Day to remember those who died in conflicts, which students participated in and conducted readings to show their respect.
In January, following feedback from all stakeholders, we launched our new vision, mission and values. Our vision: A society where people with learning & communication difficulties are valued as equal citizens. They have choices, opportunities, and independence. Our mission is to provide learning and living experiences that empower the Homefield community to recognise their potential as active citizens and the values of:
We believe in a fairer society where everyone can participate as equals. Everyone should have the opportunity to be the best that they can be.
We believe that it is our responsibility to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of others to meet needs in the future.
We believe in sharing knowledge and skills so that people grow in confidence. They can make choices and have opportunities to improve their lives.
We believe in valuing people for who they are. We will provide services that maintain dignity with compassion and caring.
Charitable activities, as always, played a part in this academic year. This started with the return of the Christmas sponsored walk at Bradgate Park - this time for Leicester Hospitals Trust, as well as getting our strictly on for Children in Need, and collecting items for Ukrainian refugees led by students at our Nuneaton Campus.
We have been able to provide a range of trips in the latter part of the year for students, above their normal accessing of the community, including:
Visit to Warning Zone to learn about health and safety hazards to keep safe in daily life.
Visit to the zoo
Visit to a butterfly centre
Visit to a hair and beauty show
Visit to Volunteer Expo at NEC Birmingham
...to name a few. This will only grow into next year as we are able to be fully active from the start of the academic year.
In March we signed the lease for the new Nuneaton Campus and have spent the time since preparing the building so that it is fresh and ready for the start of the new academic year. This new building will give the students much more space, including a hall area to be able to further develop the opportunities within their curriculum.
In April we were able to add music therapy to the Pathway 1 curriculum, with 6 students currently benefiting from this in terms of their self-expression, communication, and turn-taking skills.
In the summer term, we held Student Conference with a focus on "Better Futures". Students engaged in talks by Severn Trent Water and The Bridge and completed sustainability and recycling activities. It was a real joy to be able to bring the students together for a shared event and see them all engaging so actively with the events and guest speakers on the day.
Our Duke of Edinburgh Awards started this year and culminated in 5 students taking part in the first-ever Homefield College expedition, which was a great success. We have had 12 students take part and achieve in Duke of Edinburgh Award activities this year:
1 student has achieved Skills and Physical at Bronze level
6 students have achieved Certificate of Achievement Award at Bronze level
5 students have achieved full Bronze Award
We really want to grow this provision as it empowers young people and supports them to learn new skills, build confidence and resilience. Therefore, if you would like to know more about these awards for next academic year, please do contact Carl Pickering, Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator by email DofE@homefieldcollege.ac.uk
In July, artwork produced by students from Pathway 2 and Pathway 3 across the year has now been put on display at our enterprise Breward's Coffee Shop in Mountsorrel. There are some stunning pieces of artwork, showing just how talented our students are. The exhibition will be up across the summer if you would like to visit it yourself.
We have had another busy year at Homefield College and have only touched on some of the areas that we have covered this year but there have been many, many more. We hope that the students have a wonderful summer break and for those returning, we will see you in September.
For those moving on we wish you all the very best for your futures and hope that you keep in touch. We are establishing an alumni group for leavers – please fill in the short form to confirm whether your student would or would not be interested in joining this network.
Kind Regards, Clare Ibbotson Head of Curriculum & Quality