What help can I get from College/Further Education?
Making the decision to go to college is an exciting, big step and knowing what to expect is important for both young people and their parents/carers, especially if you have additional learning needs.
If a young person has an additional learning need (ALN) or disability, they will have support to make the transition from school to college. Everyone can start planning for the additional support they may need early.
The school Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCO) will invite everyone to the annual review meetings in school, this can include the young person and their parents and the transition team from the college and anyone else that may be appropriate including a Careers Wales advisor and other professionals.
At the review the young person can tell people about their support needs and aspirations for when they move to the college. When the college is aware of any additional learning support, they will invitethe young person to go along and talk to them about your specific support needs.
How colleges should support students with ALN
Colleges must organise additional learning provision where it’s needed. This means any support that’s different or extra to what is offered to all students. The College will consider learners needs, stage of development and the requirements of the course applied for.
In the near future colleges will follow the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Act 2018 and the ALN Code 2021:
This means they have to:
- Support students with ALN
- They must also follow the Equality Act 2010.
Colleges must organise additional learning provision where it’s needed. All Colleges must do their best to find out if a young person has additional learning needs and give them the support they need to help them learn.
If a young person has ALN, a college will work out how they can support them. They will look at:
- what support is needed
- what they can do to give them the support you need.
The school or college will keep looking at the support they give and review his regularly. An individual might need different sorts of support at different times
When additional learning provision is made, this is called additional learning provision (ALP) and will be outlined in an individual development plan (IDP).
The College may provide support from the following:
- a student support team,
- skills coaches,
- wellbeing support,
- small group support,
- assistive technology,
- in class support,
- communication support
- and Specific learning support
A new website to support young peoples transition to College has been developed by Colegau Cymru, designed to help young people with additional Learning Needs (ALN) to make a successful transition from school to further education.
The ALN Pathfinder is a collaborative resource, project funded by Welsh Government. All 13 further education colleges across Wales, contribute to the resource to support ALN learners and their families to make informed choices as they plan their next steps.
Developing an Individual Development Plan(IDP)
The IDP is a legal document which will describe a young person’s additional learning needs, the support the need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.
It is a “plan” because it not only describes the ALN, but it also plans the action that must be taken to support the YP’s learning. IDP’s will become legal documents in further education – post 16, from 2023 onwards, before that you may have an IDP which is good practice.
Over the next three years, individual development plans (IDPs) will replace all the existing plans including:
- Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN)
- Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for learners currently supported through Early Years Action/School Action or Early Years Action Plus/School Action Plus.
- Learning and Skills Plans (for learners over 16)
The IDP is intended to be a flexible document. It will vary in length and complexity depending on the different needs of the child or young person. The college will have a named person responsible for their plan and for ensuring you are able to successfully access the provision described. This person will ensure the support you are receiving is suitable for meeting your needs and effective in supporting you in your chosen course of study.
Reviewing your support and IDP
Your IDP will be reviewed at least once a year and shared with you, your course tutors and other staff members important to you. You can also ask for your parents or an advocate to support you if necessary.
If you have questions, or need more information, you can scroll down to read through our frequently asked questions, we’ve covered many different topics to make things clear for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve put together a number of questions and answers relating to help with further education:
How will a FE College support my daughter's transition from school to FE?
Transition Officers from FE will work with students, parents/carers, and schools to plan for college, and will work with students throughout their studies. They will:
- Attend school annual reviews of your daughters Individual Development Plan (IDP) or Statement if they are considering applying to college
- Support her with applying for a course and choosing the most appropriate course
- Arrange personalised visits to college and transition activities, including during the summer holidays before they start her course
- Answer any questions you or your daughter may have
- Update your Individual Development Plan ready for her to start her course and reviewing the plan at least annually
- Work with your parents / carers, Careers Wales and other agencies to arrange appropriate plans, either a Learning and Skills plan (LSP) or an IDP.
- Communicate with other teams across the college to ensure people know how best to support your daughter to achieve their aspirations and outcomes
- Meet with your daughter regularly, if needed, to check how she is settling well into college and making progress
- Provide travel training if required to improve her skills and confidence to travel independently to College.
Here are some questions your daughter might want to ask your school or college:
What support does the school or college offer for students who have additional learning needs or disabilities like me?
- What sorts of things do I need help with?
- What support can I get to help me?
- What decisions can I make about my support?
- Who do I talk to if I need more support?
What happens before my son starts college?
The college will work closely with all those involved in the students care and learning to make sure that the transition from school to college runs smoothly. They can support young people with the following:
- An invite to attend a college taster day or an arranged visit over the summer holidays if needed
- Discussions with our student support team about things like, career options, travelling to college and transition plans
- An invite to a ‘coffee morning’ to find out about the college, meet staff and ask questions
- Access to lots of helpful virtual tours and videos on our college website
- Support with completing the application form and applying to college
- Help with finance and funding
- Support during induction days to help settle in
- A designated person will be a point of contact for any concerns.
- The student support team will work with lecturers and staff to make sure they are aware of and understand your support needs before and whilst in college. Your IDP will be shared with all your tutors.
When will my child move to the new ALN system in FE?
Implementation for young people post-16 will involve a ‘flow through’ approach, where those currently in year 10 and below, who are being moved to the ALN system by a school or local authority during the implementation period, will ‘flow through’ into FE with an individual development plan (IDP) already in place.
Any young person not yet on the ALN system at the end of the 2024/25 school year will move to the ALN system at that point.
Until the ALN Act applies to a young person, the Education Act 1996 and the Learning and Skills Act 2000 will continue to apply and they will continue to benefit from the support available via the existing Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty and Disability systems, respectively.
My son has a statement of SEN and is transitioning to a FE college next September (2022) Will we still need to request a Learning and Skills Plan?
If a young person has a statement of SEN and is moving to FE in September 2022, they should be asking for a Learning and Skills Plan( LSP).
However, children currently in year 10 and below, who are being moved to the ALN system by a school or local authority during the implementation period,(2022-2025) will move into further education with an individual development plan (IDP) already in place(if they need one). Any young person not yet on the ALN system at the end of the 2024/25 school year will move to the ALN system at that point.
Many colleges are working with their local schools and LAs over this next academic year to ‘trial’ a limited number of non-statutory IDPs. While these will have no legal status yet in post compulsory education, they will still help ensure a person-centred approach is being used with young people. However this is voluntary and not a legal document.
Improvements in transition arrangements and in the sharing of information between schools and colleges is being developed across Wales, but if you require independent information and advice you can contact SNAP Cymru and make an appointment to speak to one of our advisors.
How do colleges meet the needs of disabled students?
All Colleges should be committed to providing an environment that promotes equality and inclusion for all students enabling learners to succeed on their chosen course. They must comply with the duties in the Equality Act 2010 and make every effort to identify and remove barriers to disabled students learning.
A young person is disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This is a low test to meet, as ‘substantial’ means more than minor or trivial, and ‘long term’ means lasting or likely to last more than one year. Not all young people with ALN will be disabled under this definition, but many will be.
Schools, colleges and LAs have legal duties to prevent discrimination, whether directly or indirectly. They must ensure that they do not treat young people with disabilities less favourably than others. They also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments – to change what they do or were proposing to do – to ensure that a disabled young person is not disadvantaged.
Colleges have a duty to use their best endeavours to ensure that disabled students get the support they need. If this isn’t happening, you should talk to the college straight away. The law reflects the importance of listening to young people and their families and supporting them so that they can be fully informed and involved in decisions. Young people are also entitled to the support of an Independent Advocate. If you have concerns do contact the SNAP Cymru for support most issues can be resolved without recourse to complaints or ddiscrimination claims.
Can a young person with ALN aged 19-25 enrol with a further education provider.
Any person (whether they have ALN or not) can apply to attend an FE college at any age. If the college has a suitable course for which the young person has the necessary entry requirements and the potential to achieve, then they are likely to be offered a place. It is important to note here that all colleges offer a wide range of support for learners. A useful guide to what a young person might expect is provided within the ALN Pathfinder. If the YP has ALN they should have an IDP developed for them in the future, until then a learning and skills plan should be requested. FE colleges also have responsibilities under the Equaliies Act o provide goods and services and to make reasonable adjustments to support disabled learners.
My daughter has a Statement whilst in compulsory education, but only attended I year of FE. Will she be able to re-register with a college and receive support for her ALN?
As long as the college has a suitable course for which the young person has the entry requirements and potential to achieve, they will normally be offered a place on the course. Colleges are required to ‘enrol with integrity’ so they will not normally offer a place on a course unless there is a clear purpose for the young person. In most cases this would either be to enable achievement of academic qualifications for eventual entry to higher education, or to prepare someone for work. Most colleges also offer discrete life skills programmes that focus on the ‘Four Pillars’ of Community, Independent Living, Health & Wellbeing and employment. These normally run for up to two years.
You should ask to meet with the college ALN department to discuss your daughters needs and the availability of learning support.
What if a young person (16+) doesn't consent to having support?
Under the ALN Act 2018 an the ALN Code a child will become a young person once they reach the end of compulsory school age (i.e. the last Friday of June in the year the child turns 16).
This law says that parental rights in relation to the young person’s ALN education will automatically pass to the young person themselves once they reach 16. This means that local authorities and colleges must normally engage directly with the young person rather than their parents.
Whilst , parents and carers would usually continue to be involved in discussions, the final decision regarding consent to having an IDP prepared and maintained rests with the young person.
If the college or the LA has sought the young person consent , and it wasn’t given, then the requirement on the College or Local Authority to decide whether a young person has ALN and to develop an IDP will cease to apply at that point.
When does a person not have the mental capacity to make ALN decisions?
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act says that children and young people who do not have the capacity to understand:
- information or documents that must be given to them in relation to their ALN; or
- what it means to use the rights provided to them under the ALN system
do not have capacity for the purposes of the Act.
The definition for young people, and parents of children ‘lacking capacity’ in the additional learning needs (ALN) system has the same meaning as ‘lacking capacity’ in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It means a person who lacks the capacity to make a particular decision or take a particular action for themselves at the time the decision or action needs to be taken.
A person does not have capacity to make a particular decision if they are unable to:
(a) understand the information relevant to the decision,
(b) retain that information,
(c) use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision, or
(d) communicate their decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means).
The assessment of capacity is decision-specific: someone who may lack capacity to make a decision in one area of their life may have capacity in another aspect of their life. If a young person lacks the capacity to make a relevant decision, the parent or carer will generally be the decision maker or an Independent advocate can be provided.
What if I want to attend a Specialist College?
In Wales, the relevant law is currently set out in the Learning and Skills Act 2000 (LSA 2000). This will change in the near future when the Welsh Government include this group of learners in the responsibilities of the ALNET Act .
Currently the Learning and Skills Act, sections 31 and 32, says that the Welsh Minister must make sure that young people aged 16-25 are provided with:
- Suitable education (other than higher education).
- Suitable training.
- Organised leisure-time occupation connected with education.
- Organised leisure-time occupation connected with training.
This general duty requires the Welsh Ministers to provide “proper provision” for the education and training of learners aged 16-19, and “reasonable facilities” for those over the age of 19 but under 25.
If the young person has a learning difficulty additional requirements apply. Section 41 LSA 2000 says that, when making suitable education and training provision for young people with learning difficulties, the Welsh Ministers must take into account:
- the needs of the young person; and
- the content of any assessment carried out by Careers Wales.
For young people with a statement of special education needs (SEN statement), the planning process should have started at the Year 9 Annual Review (when the young person was aged 13/14).
In the last year of school any young person with a SEN statement must have a learning difficulty assessment. The assessment is carried out by Careers Wales, on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.
The assessment is sometimes referred to as a ‘section 140 assessment’ (as it is carried out under section 140 LSA 2000) or a ‘learning and skills plan’. You may also hear it referred to as a ‘moving on assessment’.
Welsh Ministers are responsible for securing places for individuals with learning difficulties and/or disabilities at specialist post-16 provision in accordance with their duties under the Learning and Skills Act.
These duties mean that the Welsh Minister must consider whether they should fund the placement of a learner with learning difficulties at a specialist further education establishment, and to provide funding (where that is necessary).
The Learning and Skills Plan sets out the young person’s education and training needs and suitable provision available to meet those needs.
The suitability of all available local options will be considered as part of this process. Where a FE college is identified as being able to provide suitable provision for the learner, the Learning and Skills Plan is used by that FE College when identifying and securing appropriate learning support.
Most young people with learning difficulties are able to access their local FE College, however a small number of learners, will need specialist provision which can only be provided at specialist further education establishments.
If it is evidenced, as part of the transition process, that specialist post-16 provision is essential to a young person to enable them to access FE then Careers Wales, with the learner and their family, will gather the evidence and prepare a funding application to secure that provision.
Funding applications are submitted to the Welsh Government by 31 January each year where placements propose a September start.
In order to secure the funding for a specialist placement, the application must demonstrate that all local college options have been fully considered.
The Welsh Government is currently responsible for securing specialist post-16 provision for young people whose education and training needs cannot be met via mainstream provision, under the Learning and Skills Act 2000. As part of the ALN Act, this responsibility will transfer to local authorities. This will take place gradually, with local authorities becoming responsible for those who have been moved to the ALN Act from 2022/23 (those currently in year 10 and below).
The Welsh Government will continue to secure and fund specialist post-16 placements for those young people who have not yet been moved to the ALN system (those currently in Year 11 and above).
Any funding for placements agreed by Welsh Ministers before the end of the 2024-25 school year will remain available to young people until they complete their agreed programme of study.
If a learner aged 19-25 arrives at a college and based on the college’s assessment, or if its ‘brought to their attention’ that the learner has ALN, will the college have a ‘duty to decide’ on the YP ‘s ALN and prepare an IDP if necessary?
If a young person has not already enrolled at a college, the ALNCo will need to decide whether it is ‘reasonable’ for the college to assess and/or meet their additional learning provision needs.
The college can decide to refer the learner to the LA and request that they make the necessary arrangements to ensure appropriate support is provided. This may not happen very often as most colleges have a lot of experience in supporting young people. However, in future in low-incidence cases, where there is a high level of support required, a college may decide to refer an IDP decision to the LA . (This is not implemented yet – further updates on LA responsibilities towards post 16 IDPs will be provided when its confirmed by he Welsh Government)
The ALN Code makes it clear that appropriate support should be put in place for a learner while an IDP is being prepared. Colleges already have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to ensure young people are able to make progress in their education and training.
The ALN legislation says that the college can refer a young person to the local authority to develop and maintain the IDP – when will this happen?
The Welsh Government is currently responsible for securing specialist post-16 provision for young people whose education and training needs cannot be met via mainstream provision at FE under the Learning and Skills Act 2000. As part of the ALN Act, this responsibility will transfer to local authorities.
This move will take place gradually, with local authorities becoming responsible for those who have been moved to the ALN Act from 2022/23 (those currently in year 10 and below).
The Welsh Government will continue to secure and fund specialist post-16 placements for those young people who have not yet been moved to the ALN system (those currently in Year 11 and above).
What about transport to college?
The rules regarding providing free or subsidised transport to schools and colleges in Wales are set out in the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008.
There is no statutory duty on a local authority to provide free transport to a young person with a learning difficulty in post-16 further education or training. However, section 2(4) of the Measure requires local authorities to assess the travel needs of all learners in their areas, up to the age of 19, having particular regard to “the needs of learners with learning difficulties”.
This means that local authorities have discretion regarding whether they provide transport for learners aged 16-19, so you will need to contact your local authority to find out what their policy is. If a learner is disabled the college and LA will need to consider this.