Neglected learners

16th May 2003 at 01:00
There is a group of learners who are at best offered token post-19 education or at worst ignored by many colleges. I refer to mature students who are classified as having profound learning difficulties.

For these students, there are not enough education and training programmes that offer variety, progression and accreditation at pre-entry, entry and level one. Also, staff qualified and experienced to work with these learners are rare in colleges, as are welfare and infrastructure systems to support them.

Opportunities to extend educational experiences for this demanding cohort is restricted by the difficulty of getting funding methodologies, a lack of desire to provide courses for them and the emphasis on vocational education at the expense of personal development. Another obstacle is that national and local LSCs seem to judge success by higher level qualifications.

Students with profound learning difficulties are sometimes placed in specialist provision away from the home authority with the assistance of the LSC. But quality educational services are required to continue the good work started in schools. Such services should help the careers and transitional life plans of this marginalised group of deserving learners.

Len Parkyn

Head of Cherry Trees Further Education Centre, 104 Lynhurst Road, Brighton

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