Derwen College is incredibly proud to be at the centre of innovation in further education. We use technology to support students into employment and a more independent way of life.

With technical support from app developers Starfish Labs, the college has created and developed innovative new apps to further support students into work. We have developed a suite of apps as part of a ‘Support Work’ project. These were funded via the Marches LEP Growth Deal with Government for capital skills projects.

Derwen College has won national awards from Natspec and National Association for Special Educational Needs (NASEN) for its ground-breaking innovation supporting people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) into work.

Derwen College won a prestigious Natspec Award – awards which recognise excellence in specialist further education. The award was for ‘Innovative Use of Technology’ for a suite of apps that the college has developed to promote employability skills for students with SEND.

In October 2020, the college also received the Innovation Award for Technology from NASEN.

The apps – for tablets and mobile phones – transform students’ performance and develop their skills and confidence. They break down tasks into easy-to-follow steps, incorporating pictures, videos, Makaton symbols, and simple spoken or written sentences.

Premier Inn app

The apps include a Premier Inn app which takes students step-by-step through servicing a hotel room. Students use the app on tablet or mobile phone at the college’s on-site training hotel, at Premier Inn work placements and ultimately during paid employment at Premier Inn. Read about former student Adam who used the app in his training to work at Premier Inn.

CV Builder app

Other apps include a CV Builder ‘app’ which enables people with SEND to create their own CV with minimal outside support.

All students have access to the CV Builder. It allows students with SEND to create and take ownership of their own CV. Video and image uploads allow students to showcase their work skills. These would not always be obvious from a traditional written CV.

Student Amy tells us why she feels the CV Builder app is helpful in supporting students to create and send their own CV as independently as possible.

Feedback from employers has also been overwhelmingly positive. Andrew Williams from Woodside Holiday Park recently received a CV generated from the CV Builder as a demonstration of the app’s capabilities. Andrew said:

“It was enlightening to receive a CV that looked different from the norm, it really caught my eye.  The links to the videos brought to life the information on the page, it was really useful to see the young person at work and get a real feel for the skills they had in the workplace. It was helpful to be signposted to support agencies that can guide an employer in making their workplace more accessible.”