From education to employment

LSC Programme to Broaden Access to Further Education

A new programme has been launched by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) providing students with moderate learning difficulties and autistic conditions with the opportunity to join mainstream further education.

The pilot ExTRA programme being run at The Priory School in Spadling, has allowed students with learning difficulties to make a gradual and smooth transition into a conventional further education college.

The Priory School has been liaising with Boston College in order to develop a study and support system whereby students from the school spend a greater number of hours at the college, and consequently a smaller amount of time at the school in order to enable them to gradually adapt to the atmosphere and environment there. The programme aims to integrate students little by little, until they can confidently attend classes alongside young people without learning difficulties.

One Step at a Time

Claire George, a Key Stage 4 Manager at Boston College, emphasised the need for these students to feel comfortable with their surroundings, explaining: “The ExTRA programme gives them the time they need to gradually get used to college life and build their confidence.” She added that students will continue to receive specialised support after the transition in order to “help them reach their full potential.”

It is indeed a great strength of the programme that it allows each student to adapt at his/her own pace, ensuring that students only make the switch from school to college when they feel entirely ready to do so. A number of the five Priory School students who have been through the programme have already enrolled on courses starting in September. Those remaining will continue with the programme until they feel absolutely certain they are ready to make the transition.

The Quality & Diversity Manager at the local Learning and Skills Council for Lincoln, Maggie Freeman, described the programme as proof that the Lincolnshire and Rutland Strategy for14-19 education was implemented. She also remarked that strengthening the ties between Priory School and Boston College “means these young people have the opportunity to continue their studies locally which would not have been the case otherwise.”

The success of the ExTRA programme thus far has encouraged other specialist schools in Lincolnshire to consider operating similar initiatives with nearby colleges.

Sara Hashash

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