Transfer of specialist residential FE college funding to LAs in Wales: equality impact assessment

While I’m spending most of today posting about specialist residential FE colleges I might as well add this one too! Published in June 2013 this link will take you to the equality impact assessment (EIA) for the Welsh Government’s (WG) proposed transfer of the funding for specialist residential FE college placements to local authorities (LAs). (See section 7 on pages 23-24 of the Legislative proposals for additional learning needs white paper.) There’s an error with Section 4 of the EIA which should ‘declare’ whether or not the proposed policy change has been assessed as having ‘a significant impact upon equality issues’ but unfortunately it doesn’t. You can find a bit more info on EIAs here.

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NATSPEC and the ‘A Right not a Fight’ campaign

Firstly, if you want general information or information about specific specialist residential further education (FE) colleges you could do worse than look at the Association of National Specialist Colleges (NATSPEC) site where, amongst other things, you’ll find a useful college directory.

If, like me, you feel that at a time when most teenagers are choosing their colleges and planning their future, young people with learning difficulties or disabilities are still having to fight for an education that meets their needs and gives them the best chance as adults you may want to check out the ‘A Right not a Fight’ site. Lead by NATSPEC, the ‘A Right not a Fight’ campaign is working to ensure that young people with complex difficulties have the same rights to access the appropriate further education of their choice as their non-disabled peers. Its stated aims are to:

  • Make sure people are aware of specialist college provision.
  • Make sure there’s a voice for young people about accessing the college and programme of their choice.
  • Make sure specialist colleges are promoted in every local authority’s Local Offer. (NB: this particular aim only applies to England.)

  • Make sure future funding and legislation changes meet the needs of young people with complex disabilities.

The campaign does seem to be England-centric at the moment but NATSPEC does figure among the stakeholders that the Welsh Government are liaising with as part of the ongoing special educational/additional needs reforms.

I’ll be posting more on this subject shortly and the survey I reported on here makes the ‘A Right not a Fight’ even more important.

Specialist residential FE colleges: new survey evidences little choice for young people with SEN/ALN and their families

The SEN Jungle has published the results of a survey organised by the National Star College, Cheltenham. The purpose of the survey was to determine whether young people with SEN/ALN were being made aware of the potential choices they have for education after the age of 16. There were 1,600 respondents from England and Wales although the analysis is England-centric. It’s worth noting that unlike Wales, where the Welsh Government (WG) is currently responsible for funding residential placements, the funding of Specialist Residential FE Colleges in England lays with local authorities (LAs). For those of you who are not aware of it, the WG intends to transfer the responsibility of this funding to the Welsh LAs (see section 7 on pages 23-24 of the Legislative proposals for additional learning needs white paper), probably from the academic year 2016-17. The results of the survey seem to indicate that LAs in England are struggling to meet their statutory obligations in this area and are a clear warning to the WG of the potential difficulties that could be faced by some disabled young people and their families in Wales. You can get a flavour of what the survey revealed here.

Report on Post-19 education and young people with SEN/ALN in Wales

Again, this isn’t a particularly new report but it will be relevant to all of you who are interested in Post-19 education for young people with SEN/ALN. Published in 2013 it is pretty thorough and includes specialist residential FE colleges placements.

The report is called Post-19 Education Provision for Young People with Complex Learning Difficulties Living in Wales: levels of need and current provision and was written by Ruth Townsley, Steve Beyer, Carol Robinson and Val Willams. They make an total of 13 recommendations. If you don’t want to read the whole report you can jump to the recommendations here.