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We need a fresh approach

Once again, I read with deep concern about how the marginalised, disenfranchised and vulnerable are at risk because of the untimely introduction of functional skills ("Basic skills qualifications may let down most in need", 13 July).

For many students with special educational needs, learning difficulties andor disabilities, the pre-entry route is their only accessible way into further education. This seems to be being denied them. Already we have seen reductions in opportunities for disadvantaged learners by this and previous governments. Further, the emphasis on embedding functional skills into the vocational curriculum ignores other paths to learning and engagement, including the social, leisure and recreational dimensions. The approach to addressing the needs of post-16 learners requires fresh examination, with the views of the student cohort providing a strong steer for what is of value to them.

Len Parkyn, Senior teacher, Vines Cross, East Sussex.

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