Sharing costs is a priority, report says

IN 2005, Peter Little reported back on the provision for students with learning disabilities after being commissioned to investigate the issue by the Learning and Skills Council.

His report said that the quality of provision was highly variable and a fundamental change in the effectiveness of providers was needed through better workforce training and listening to students' needs, as well as increasing the number of places available.

In some cases, students were stuck in a "revolving door" situation, where they were shunted between colleges and day centres, often repeating courses, with little opportunity for meaningful progression.

Students' needs should be met by a fair and easy-to-understand system of planning, funding and placement, helping them to progress to a maximum level of independence and activity in their community and in employment.

The LSC should have a policy of "investment for change" to transform and increase high-quality, local provision for people with learning disabilities.

One of the main priorities was to make different agencies of government genuinely work together, including sharing costs.

Ministers should reach an agreement on who should pay the costs of social care and health care provision for people with learning disabilities.

There should also be senior staff members in each LSC region who are dedicated to oversee the development of appropriate, co-ordinated, consistent provision for people with learning disabilities.

The Department for Education and Skills, in its annual letter setting out the terms of the LSC's funding, should give greater priority to provision for people with learning disabilities.

The LSC should also ensure that employment-related provision, including apprenticeships, are accessible to people with learning difficulties or disabilities, and actively encourage their participation.

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