SEND apprenticeship mentor pilot planned by DfE

Trial will test the 'value of targeted and specific mentoring support for apprentices who have learning difficulties and disabilities'

Trial will test the 'value of targeted and specific mentoring support for apprentices who have learning difficulties and disabilities'

13 Dec 2023, 16:56

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The government is planning to run a mentoring support pilot for apprentices who have learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD).

Training providers are now being invited to submit an expression of interest to take part in the trial that will be led by the Department for Education.

The DfE said it will test whether offering “targeted expert support, advice and training to the people providing mentoring to LDD apprentices results in a positive impact on the cohort, both in terms of satisfaction, as well as broader areas such as retention and achievement for these apprentices”.

Providers and prospective mentors will be offered a package of bespoke training, advice, and support in how to support people with LDD throughout the pilot, the DfE added.

It comes amid the early success of another pilot for LDD people, which aims to make apprenticeships more accessible through an English and maths exemption.

This one-year trial, launched in May 2023, allows people with a learning difficulty but without a pre-existing education health and care plan (EHCP) or statement of learning difficulties assessment (LDA) to work towards a lower level of functional skills than current policy requires.

Around 20 providers have been trialling a change to the rules that allows special educational needs and/or disabilities coordinators (SENDCOs) to conduct additional assessments and judge whether a learner without an EHCP or LDA – but with equivalent needs – can be approved for this flexibility.

Providers that spoke with FE Week about the pilot last month labelled the rule change as a “game-changer” as hundreds of people who found themselves blocked from apprenticeship opportunities were now enrolling on programmes thanks to the exemption.

The DfE hasn’t provided a timeline for the launch of the LDD apprenticeship mentor pilot, but interested parties have been told to contact lddmentoring.pilot@education.gov.uk for more information.

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