Further education for learners with complex needs is under-resourced. There is not enough investment in growing specialist expertise or in developing or maintaining specialist facilities. This can result in learners missing out on essential therapies or being denied a broad and challenging curriculum. Some local authorities are placing learners with more complex needs in unregulated provision where there is no independent assessment of quality at all.
Natspec is calling for:
Government support for colleges to recruit sufficient staff with appropriate expertise to meet the needs of learners with learning difficulties and / or disabilities, e.g. through a national campaign about working in SEND/ALN in FE.
Investment in the specialist workforce and the development of specialist regional hubs.
A new capital improvement fund for ESFA-funded special post-16 institutions (SPIs) as an initial measure and thereafter eligibility for future FE capital funding rounds.
Support for partnership working
Systemic changes to enable partnership-working between specialist and general FE colleges to support the sharing of expertise.
More clarity and certainty in funding arrangements
Greater certainty for LAs about their high needs budget allocation over several years to reduce short-term decision-making.
Clear expectations within the revised Code of Practice around therapy provision, the circumstances in which LAs should fund it and how it should be joint commissioned with health as part of a holistic programme.