Aid for disabled is nothing new

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Here we go again! Yet another report expressing concern about poor provision in FE for adults with disabilities ("Damning verdict on help for disabled", FE Focus, March 3). The ALI report provides no real new knowledge, ideas or solutions to an identified problem that is at least 20 years old. We have had reports, inquiries, working parties, task groups and papers presented that fundamentally repeat themselves every two or three years.

The Learning and Skills Council, colleges (both incorporated and specialist) and central government must employ well-qualified, experienced staff supported by specific training. Teaching and support staff should be well rewarded and paid the professional rate. No wonder so few staff qualified to work with Adults with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities-qualified staff enter the world of FE from the schools sector.

Colleges need to provide quality support and welfare services combined with specific training packages that enhance opportunities, provide social inclusion and offer a clear career pathway and exit routes. Local colleges are not able to support learners with profound or complex disabilities and needs. Staff working with this group of learners are dedicated, but they are often strangled by an insensitive funding mechanism that fits students into financial boxes that do not recognise the intensive and specialist support needed to ensure success.

Proper resourcing and imaginative teaching and training programmes would represent a way forward for this group of marginalised learners.

Len Parkyn Head of Cherry Treesfurther education centre Brighton and Hove

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