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Wilson sings praises of Access courses

Higher Still's range of Access courses will come to the rescue of young people on the margins. Brian Wilson, the Education Minister, said.

Mr Wilson, who has switched the focus from the contentious upper levels of the programme, said: "Tackling social exclusion requires an education and training system which provides opportunity for all, from the most academically able to those with the most significant learning difficulties. Higher Still will do this."

Mr Wilson has a long-standing commitment to special education and has ensured additional resources, particularly at the pre-five and early intervention stages.

Turning his attention to provision for the least able at the upper end, he said: "Access is designed specifically to help those with learning problems. From Access band 1, helping those with the most complex learning difficulties to band 3, offering progression to more advanced education and training, Higher Still will make major improvements for students."

Access is the most basic of the five levels of courses available under the reforms, due to be implemented in autumn next year. By the time the programme begins, some pound;20 million will have been invested.

Writing in the latest Higher Still newsletter, Douglas Osler, the Government's senior adviser and chief inspector, claims teachers will be supported more effectively than they have been in any previous major reform. "The next few months will see the issue of a major new national resource to support teachers and lecturers in assessing students, as well as an array of further guidance and support on managing assessment, organising learning and teaching, and core skills," he states.

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