The judges described National Star College, in Gloucestershire, as “an inspiring place” that puts its learners at the centre of everything it does.
It provides specialist training and accommodation for students with disabilities and acquired brain injuries from across the country. Through its destination-led focus, the college gives students autonomy, asking them what they want to achieve and then putting the necessary steps in place to help them achieve their goals.
Read more: Tes FE Awards 2019 winners crowned
Background: Tes FE Awards 2019 open for entries
National Star has enjoyed a high profile on the national stage, with learners regularly making media appearances and challenging perceptions about people with learning difficulties or disabilities. This has included appearances before the Commons Education Select Committee.
The college provides a wide range of personal development and vocational courses, ranging from pre-entry to level 2, for 119 residential and 112 day students. In 2018, the college hosted FestABLE, the first national conference for specialist education, attracting delegates from all over the UK.
It is recognised as a national centre of excellence, and partners with local authorities and other colleges to help deliver continuing professional development for teachers who support learners with special educational needs and disability.
The college was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in January 2018, when inspectors said senior leaders and managers had “successfully sustained the culture of high standards” while teachers, learning support assistants and other staff “prepare students for adult life very effectively and, consequently, the quality of their lives improves”.
The judges said: “They are swimming against the tide by sticking to what they do best – and doing it better than the rest.”