Ofsted calls for government review on post-16 arrangements

Ofsted calls for government review on post-16 arrangements

Young people with learning difficulties and disabilities are not receiving adequate support as they progress to further education, according to an Ofsted report published today.

The report, called ‘Progression post-16 for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities’, found that the opportunities for young people to learn beyond school varies dramatically across the country.

Ofsted is recommending that the Department for Education, alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) review the arrangements for transition from school to the post-16 sector, as well as consider the introduction of national programmes for extended workplace learning.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Miriam Rosen, said: “Decisions about the best kind of provision for individuals should be based on their individual needs. Young people need to be provided with meaningful programmes that enable them to progress to apprenticeships, employment, greater independence, further learning or community engagements.”

Ofsted concludes that there is insufficient provision available for learners with the highest level of need, and that the current placement system causes unfair and inconsistent support for other learners with similar needs.

The most effective provision, such as social enterprises and internships supported by job coaches, were found to be incapable of funding under the current foundation learning arrangements.

Ofsted inspectors visited 32 different colleges and learning providers in order to evaluate the arrangements for transition from school and the opportunities that were offered to learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

They found that many providers of post-16 learning were concerned that the design of foundation learning, introduced in September 2010, offers too few practical and real work opportunities.

The discrete foundation programmes that were reviewed by Ofsted failed to enable learners to progress to open or supported employment, independent living or community engagement.

The most effective provision, such as social enterprises and internships supported by job coaches, were found to be incapable of funding under the current foundation learning arrangements.

Ofsted also concluded that the learning difficulty assessments provided by local authorities were ineffective for moving learners to post-16 provision.

The research uncovered that education providers received learning difficulties assessments for only a third of eligible students.

These assessments were not always on time or completed to an adequate standard, thereby making it difficult to plan support.

In many of the examples seen by Ofsted inspectors, the criteria used for placement decisions were not always clear, local options were not thoroughly explored and the recommendations were not always based on an objective assessment of need.

All of the post-16 providers did however have their own systems to provide learners with an initial assessment.

These procedures were freestanding though and were not integrated with local authorities’ arrangements for learning difficulty assessments.