From education to employment

Young people with learning difficulties and disabilities face variable progression beyond school, warns Ofsted

There is insufficient provision available for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities who want to progress from school to employment or further learning, according to an Ofsted report published yesterday.

Ofsted inspectors visited 32 colleges, independent learning providers and local authority providers of adult and community learning, and found that arrangements to provide learning difficulty assessments were not working effectively.

According to the report, entitled ‘Progression post-16 for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities’, providers received a learning difficulties assessment from local authorities in only a third of the case studies, with many of these assessments being inadequately completed.

The role of FE colleges in post-16 progression has been regarded as more positive. Inspectors revealed that the colleges they visited had comprehensive arrangements for induction and initial assessment, the results of which were used well to support learning.

Commenting on the report’s revelation that often local authorities did not pass on information about student needs, which leads to duplication for colleges, Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group, called for closer collaboration between colleges and local authorities in order to “maximise learners’ chances in life”.

Sedgmore said: “We encourage improved information sharing by local authorities to enable young people to have access to programmes that will help them to progress successfully, whether this is into apprenticeships, employment, greater independence, further learning or community engagements.”

The report also revealed that qualification and funding systems were causing some concerns among providers of post-16 learning. Regarding the design of foundation learning, which was introduced in September 2010, inspectors warned that too few practical, real work opportunities were available to learners, with activities only being funded for three days a week.

Apostolos Kostoulas

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