Students campaign for fair access to high quality further education

National Star students are campaigning for fair access to high quality further education.

By Matt Walsh · 21/02/2024
Lynette with Sam, Francis and Owain

Three students joined their peers from specialist colleges around the country at the Houses of Parliament.

They were there for the launch of Natspec’s Manifesto. Natspec is the member organisation for specialist colleges and Lynette Barrett, National Star’s CEO, is Chair of Natspec.

Unlocking potential

Natspec is calling for three key things:

  • Fair access to specialist further education for those learners who need it;
  • Investment in the specialist further education sector to ensure high quality provision is available to these learners;
  • A joined-up approach across government departments, so that young people with more complex needs have the support they need to thrive once they leave college.

Clare Howard OBE, CEO of Natspec, summarised the call for Equity, Quality and Opportunity.

Francis, a day student at National Star in Hereford, gave a speech at the launch. He explained the impact of specialist education on his life. Not only was it the first time he had given a speech in front of a large audience, but it was also the first time he had been to London.

Francis speaking at the launch event of the Natspec Manifesto

National Star College is the best place for me right now as it helps people like me with additional needs,’ said Francis in his speech.

‘It also helps me and others build our confidence levels especially in situations such as accessing the community. National Star is a place where I feel I am understood and I do not feel I would have this in a mainstream college. The staff are very good listeners. They always know the best way to support me and listen to my worries.’

Importance of quality specialist education

The students and staff met local MPs and talked to them about the importance of quality specialist education and the challenges young people face to attend specialist colleges.

‘We would like to say a special thank you to MPs Sir Bill Wiggin, Jesse Norman, Siobhan Baillie and Laurence Robertson for taking the time to attend and talk to us about the issues young people face,’ says Lynette.

‘Young people with disabilities have so much to contribute to society but they need fair access to high quality education and opportunities after college to put those skills into practice. We look forward to working with the government to make this country a more inclusive society.’