Scottish colleges have been given a glowing commendation for their work with special educational needs students following a lengthy study by Edinburgh University researchers. Kathleen Ward and George Thomson found students were largely happy with their courses and levels of support.
Most had been well advised during the final stages of secondary schooling and found colleges built on the skills they needed for future employment and independent living.
A cross-section of students with learning difficulties or disabilities say attending college gave them the chance to socialise, form friendships and gain self-confidence. "There existed a clear sense of overall satisfaction with their college experience, matched by a salient desire to move forward into employment," the study concludes.
Most students reported feeling the effects of stigmatisation and bullying at some stage in their lives but the majority came out of college in a relatively positive frame of mind or were realistic about their characteristics.
A small number of students had difficulties getting the right advice at school and some had "a seemingly disjointed experience of employment, followed by unemployment, over a few months prior to eventual college entry".
Staff interviews revealed that full integration of students was restricted by access to buildings and lecturers' "attitudinal barriers, based mainly upon fear and ignorance".
Provision and progression: school-leavers with special educational needs is published by the Institute for the Study of Education and Society at Edinburgh University.