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Open Day 2020 – FAQs

We receive a range of questions during our Open Day events.  Here are some of the most recent FAQs we have been asked:

Leisure time questions

Any basketball?
Yes – there is a basketball court within the multi-function sports hall on the main site. Students can opt to play basketball and many other sports as part of extra curricula timetabled activities, or join in on a leisure basis during evenings and weekends.

Horse riding?
Yes – students access two local RDA centres where they can learn how to groom horses / ponies and also to take riding lessons / hacks.

Do you do Duke of Edinburgh bronze silver gold?
Derwen College has been offering the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at bronze, silver and gold levels to young people with SEND since 2014.

What do the students do at the weekends? Do they stay throughout or go home?
Evenings, weekends and social / leisure time is a big part of staying away at a residential college like Derwen College. You can join in with activities onsite or, take part in trips with friends. Some students do visit home on occasion and also have family and friends to visit.

FAQs about Admissions

When is the right time to apply for September 2022 entry?
We are welcoming applications from young people looking to transition to college in September 2021 and beyond now. It is never too early to express interest – to do so please complete an enquiry form which you can find on our Admissions page.

How long does it take from initial application to being offered a place?
The admissions and assessment process at Derwen College is thorough. Many families start an application at least two years in advance of a proposed start date. Young people are encouraged to begin thinking about transition options beyond school from an early point – in year 9.

So would assessment at the moment be virtual?
Currently, we are following Government guidance and have had to adapt how we take prospective students through the admissions process.

There are virtual resources that can be accessed via the college website to view the site and facilities.

Initially, the Admissions Team will conduct paper based assessments and request copies of existing reports and documents including the young person’s Education and Health Care Plan / Learning Skills Plan. The young person will still be required to come to the college as part of the assessment process.

The Admissions Team are contactable to discuss admissions and assessments at any stage in the process and will be able to advise depending on when you are looking at potential entry to college – 01691 661234 ext 401,

Will you be doing any face to face visits to look around or to have an interview?
We hope that as restrictions lift we will be able to invite all prospective applicants to have an in-person visit to Derwen College and where appropriate, on-site assessments.

We have lots of online resources on our website and links to videos to be able to view the college and its satellite sites in the interim. Contact the Admissions Team to discuss applications and assessments at any stage too.

Once you had made the initial enquiry – how long is it before the assessment is then done?
Each application is different, with assessments bespoke to individual’s needs. It is advisable to begin the process of applying early on – it can be quite lengthy from start to finish. Assessments usually take place in the year prior to starting.

What is the transition plan like – roughly how many visits do the students have before they start and are any of the visits overnight?
There are lots of opportunities to visit Derwen College – Open Days, annual summer fete, admissions visits, assessment days and optional refresher visits. The college commercial areas are open to the public; many families call in when passing, perhaps for refreshments in the Garden Café. Some young people use the Derwen Short Breaks facility to experience staying away from home too.

Is it expected that the student would know which Pathway option they choose before starting at Derwen College?
Prospective students apply to train and study under one particular Pathway. They will follow a Personalised Study Programme in; Hospitality and Food, Garden and Plant Production , Performing Arts, Retail and Enterprise or Learning for Life.

Before you start applying it is a good idea to think about why you want to come to a specialist college like Derwen.  What do you want to achieve whilst you are here? Where do you want to live and work when you leave? Your Individual Learning Plan will be shaped around your aspirations.

Would it be too early to apply for 2023?
It is never too early to express interest – to do so please complete an enquiry form. Upon receipt of a completed form the Admissions Team, will make contact at the appropriate stage to advise on moving the application forward.

May our son only attend Derwen if our Local Authority approves it?
In the main most student’s placements are approved by the local authority in which they reside. However, we do have a small number of students who access placements via differing funding streams such as private funding.

Can you switch to a residential programme at 18 or later if you started on a day programme at 16?
Potentially, this could happen, subject to a student’s annual review. It would need to be in agreement with the local authority.

How do we apply for a short break and typically how long are they?
The duration and frequency of short breaks varies; depending on needs and availability. The provision is open year round, with only two weeks’ closure at Christmas. Holidays are a great way to meet new people, relax and explore local attractions. You can contact the Short Breaks team to discuss your requirements and to place an application.

Can you apply for Derwen College before selecting which location to study at?
It is possible to apply and then decide which provision and location is preferred and best suits your needs. Make sure that the Admissions Team know that you would like to consider and be considered for more than one location.

Funding FAQs

Should we start talking to our local authority about funding before we apply?
It is a good idea to let your local LA know about the different types of provision that you are considering.

How easy is it to get funding?
You need to have explored the different types of provision available in your local area, as well as those further afield and evidenced why they can’t meet need.

How much is the private funding if the LA refuse? Compared to say boarding school at £35K a year; more or less?
Funding is bespoke to the needs of the individual. When costs are compared to those of local provision we are very similar, provided the local authority have taken social care costs into consideration.

FAQs about Residences at Derwen College

What is the ratio of staff to students regarding their daily care within their living quarters?
There are staffed and non-staffed houses at Derwen College to account for the differences in students’ abilities, disabilities and increasing levels of independence. Levels of care and support are bespoke to individual’s needs.

How integrated are living skills with education programme?
All parts of college life are integrated; vocational, independence and education settings all work towards common shared outcomes evidenced in each student’s Individual Learning Plan.

Do the programmes from SALT or OT flow through to residency staff /carers?
Therapy at Derwen College is delivered with an integrated focus across residential, vocational and educational settings. Therapists advice and recommendations are given to ensure strategies are embedded through the day and needs are met throughout college life.

Is residential all week or just weekdays?
Students who follow a residential programme do so on a 7 day a week basis, for 37 weeks of the year.

What are the average numbers of students living in each residence, and the staff supporting them?
Each residence differs in size and capacity. New starters move into on-site houses, which are often suggested to be similar to halls of residence. There can be up to 24 students with staff supporting as and when required. The college also has a cul-de-sac of staffed and non-staffed bungalows, where students share; two to four to each. There is a staged approach to living and taking on more independence.

Do any of the rooms have en-suite shower rooms and their own bathroom?
There are a few rooms that have en-suite facilities. These are allocated to students by need. Most bathroom, shower room and toilet facilities are shared. Each bedroom does have a wash basin.

Are the student residences mixed gender?
Yes, residences are mixed. This is to replicate supported living in the community.

Could you describe how residential students develop skills such as cooking, planning meals, cleaning etc.
At Derwen College we believe that students best develop their independence in a real life environment.

As part of everyday living and through timetabled sessions you will develop your independence with the support and guidance of care staff. Covering all aspects of life; health and hygiene, skills in the home, skills in the community and leisure time.

As you become more independent you might not need such close support from staff. Your care provision will always be at a level that is right for you.

General questions

How does safeguarding work with Derwen being an open college?
It’s all about preparing for adult life at Derwen – learning to look after yourself, being more independent and needing less support. The main college and satellite sites are open, with some areas open to the public. Safety is the key priority for all students, with robust risk assessment central.

Are you introducing any new courses?
Derwen@Telford opened its doors to students in September 2020.

We are ever evolving and reviewing the provision that we offer to ensure that it remains in line with what industry and communities require and so that our students have the best opportunities to move into meaningful employment when they leave.

In 2021 we are opening a Charity Shop on the College’s main site in Gobowen to extend student’s experiences in customer service and Retail.

How many students in total at present?
Across all of our sites we have 108 students.

What is the staff to student ratio?
The average ratios work out at 1:6 across education and 1:7 in residences.

Do the OT s on site work with Sensory Integration problems?
Derwen has an Occupational Therapist who is qualified to support students with sensory integration needs, through sensory diets and approaches.

Are your short breaks open at the moment?
The Short Breaks provision at Derwen is currently closed to guests. Please keep an eye on the website for further updates of when the situation changes.

Do you have peripatetic support, such as for audiology needs?
Should this be required inclusion services such as audiology can be accessed for those students who require support.

What percentage are day students?
There are 34 day students across Derwen College main and satellite sites.

How do students transition from college into the work place / independent living, post college?
Planning for the future begins as soon as (if not before) a young person starts at Derwen. Prospective students are encouraged to think about why they want to come to a specialist college? What they want to achieve? And where they see themselves living, working and socialising when they leave. All students are supported to be able to express their aspirations.

A transition review meeting takes place in the first term of the final year, with parents, carers and Local Authority representatives invited to attend to plan for next steps in living and work.

Information, advice and guidance is an integral part of all student’s curriculum. Each student accesses an Employability Programme, covering ‘Getting Myself Ready for Work,’ ‘Exploring the World of Work’ and ‘Career Planning.’

Derwen recently received a NASEN award for innovation with development of a CV builder app.

There are lots of case studies of former students on the ‘Next Steps’ section on the website.

Do you teach anything to do with childcare / nursery nursing / assistant?
Although we do not have a Study Programme or Pathway offering a qualification or course in childcare specifically, we do have students who access work experience placements based at local childcare centres. The employability skills that they are learning in other Pathways is helping them to broaden their experiences in working in a number of sectors.

My child loves writing could this be incorporated into a course? E.g, writing a play to be performed.
Yes! Although a student opts to train under the umbrella of a particular Pathway, the programme that each young person follows is individual to them. There are many different jobs within an industry and we work with your skills, abilities and motivators to personalise your programme.

Further to this all students still cover Functional Skills learning – writing of course is a part of this.

How many years can a student stay with yourselves?
The duration of a programme is defined by funding. Students who reside in Wales access provision up to two-years duration and those who reside in England access up to three-years.

Do you provide any support with getting to/from home? We live in London and wonder how it would work for our son?
Students can opt to travel as part of college organised transport to various locations in the UK, at the end and start of term and half terms. London Euston is one of those locations.            

How many weeks a year are the young people at Derwen?
Students are term time over 37 weeks.

Do you do a half term break? What are term dates like?
Students do have a half term break. We publish term dates on our website.

What happens if you are currently out of area?
We work with 38 different Local Authorities right across the UK to place students at Derwen College.

For day students – is it 5 days a week – 9 – 3pm?
Day students can access the day curriculum five days a week, 9am-5pm. Some day students opt to extend their time to join social and leisure activities and trips too; such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, sports and clubs.

The minimum requirements for day provision is three days a week.

Is there a supported living option after learning?
Derwen College offers a programme called Springboard – a bespoke provision with an independence and work focus for young people aged 18-28 – this may be accessed with the aim of preparing to move to supported living.

How many staff are currently at each site?
There are 310 staff at our main site in Gobowen. Three staff at Derwen@Craven Arms, four at Derwen@Telford and five at Derwen@Walford.

FAQs about Derwen College’s three Satellite Sites

Is the Telford site a 3-year programme?
Students who access the Derwen @ Telford provision can do so for up to three years.

How do you deal with personal care at Telford – assistance with toileting etc.
Should a student based at any of our sites require assistance in their personal care, then this would be taken into consideration during Admissions stages and the appropriate support put in place.

Is there integrated transport to your colleges or do we need to arrange that with our own authority?
Transport would need to be discussed with your local authority.