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Head of SEND & Student Inclusion

From studying sociology at university to becoming the Head of SEND & Student Inclusion at City College Plymouth, it’s safe to say that Natalie’s career journey hasn’t been linear.

Her background in social science and a subsequent PGCE led her to a teaching role in a special school supporting those with additional needs, predominantly students with autism. This experience sharpened her expertise in special educational needs, a field Natalie is deeply passionate about.

“I trained to be a primary school teacher and that’s what I thought my path was going to be until I got my first position in a special needs school. Transitioning to working in further education has opened up a whole new world for me, but SEND needs are still the same, no matter the age.”

Natalie’s holistic approach to education is all about fostering positive relationships and meeting students’ individual needs, where she’s committed to nurturing both academic and emotional growth in students at the College.

Natalie’s current focus involves extensive training for College staff, enhancing their ability to support students with SEND effectively. She aims to equip teaching staff with essential tools and boost students’ confidence in their learning capabilities. “A lot of work at the moment is around training a range of different stakeholders to feel confident in supporting students with SEND as well as giving students coping strategies to become more independent in their learning,” she explains.

But, she’s looking to move mountains in other areas, too. Natalie is making a conscious effort to prepare students for employment and the subsequent stages of their lives by integrating vital skills into the curriculum.

“I see this kind of transition, from education to a students’ next steps, whatever they may be, as a critical phase. It requires follow-ups and support to promote independence and resilience among students and that’s something I’m really passionate about creating at the College.”

Looking ahead, Natalie would like to work collaboratively with stakeholders to improve provision for students with SEND across Plymouth. She hopes that students receive a student-centred approach with family and professional agency involvement to better prepare students to live more independent lives, where they gain the skills to move into employment.