Disability pact points way ahead

13th July 2007 at 01:00

The article "Ministers' pact on disability" (FE Focus, July 6) is to be welcomed. The strategy document Progression through Partnership offers many ways forward at a time of major challenges to the further education sector, the Learning and Skills Council nationally and, more importantly, operationally in the regions. This publication, together with the recommendations and impact of the Little report, will have far-reaching effects on the 16-plus and post-19 educational and training offers for those with SENLDD. I have used the opportunity to talk to some of my 19-year-old students about their individual careers, including pathway and transitions planning, and a number of common themes arises from them and their parents or carers. These boil down to a lack of coherent education opportunities post-19 in local colleges that address the needs of learners in this often marginalised and disenfranchised group, including provision for basic skills, self-help and independence education. Under the stewardship of the LSC, full- and part-time provision has been radically reduced across most curriculum areas within the last decade. Resources have always been a major issue. Joined-up thinking combined with realistic funding that follows the learner and the demands they make on services is a credible answer to a problem that is two decades old. Reviews, assessments, screening and a two-tier system of provision that widens the gap in opportunities and quality of services is to be avoided. Targeted additional funding for individual learners that can be used to access adequately resourced local provision is to be welcomed. Also to be avoided is money being redirected into costly, bureaucratic and, potentially, autocratic management systems disguised as learning support and widening opportunity. By all means look positively at targeted, increased and co-ordinated funding, but make sure that programmes of learning are in place along with quality teaching and genuine learning and welfare support.;Further Education

Len Parkyn

Horam East Sussex

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