The voice of specialist further education

Fair access for learners with more complex needs to further education (FE)

Some young people with complex needs are granted multiple years of funding for FE while others are not given any opportunity to participate in education beyond school. This can be as a result of misguided decision-making about which learners merit a place or further time in FE or because of a lack of strategic planning to ensure there are enough specialist places to meet needs. Securing specialist FE often feels like a battle for the young person and their family. Access to timely and sufficient information, advice and guidance about post-school options for learners with SEND is generally poor. All of this results in something of a postcode lottery causing undue stress on young people and their families.

Natspec is calling for:

Better provision planning

Improved strategic planning of post-16 provision at local and regional levels by local authorities including:

  • college involvement in proposed local inclusion partnerships and plans
  • addressing shortage of supply and rising demand for specialist placements
  • cross-boundary planning to avoid duplicating highly specialist provision
  • securing an appropriate mix and balance of provision to meet differing needs.

Recognition from UK and Welsh governments of the role that specialist colleges play within the post-16 landscape.

Fair treatment

Parity of esteem for non-accredited study programmes based on personal development goals with vocational/academic accredited learning programmes.

Revised guidance from DfE in England and new guidance from Welsh government on maintaining and ceasing EHC Plans/Individual Development Plans (IDPs) to support fair and consistent decision-making.

A guarantee from Welsh Government that learners whose complex needs cannot be met in a mainstream FE setting will have access to a specialist college placement.

Thorough updating of EHC/ID Plans prior to transition to FE so that they support effective programme planning and include agreed end goals for FE.

Better careers information, advice and guidance

Impartial IAG from professionals with specialist expertise.

Clear information shared with young people and families by LAs, about the full range of post-16 options and adherence to related statutory timelines.

Other policy priorities:

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