Courses for students with learning difficulties or disabilities

Over 1,000 students enrolled on Further and Higher Education courses at the College are receiving learning support, and we are leading the region in terms of specialist support for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD).

Our ethos is to put the learner first in everything that we do, and this is extended to all of our students. Over the last few years, we have created specialist facilities for learners on the autism spectrum and learners with profound and complex learning difficulties/disabilities to provide our students with the best possible environment to support their learning. 

We have also developed high quality staff training programs to ensure that our staff are equipped with the skills and expertise they need to offer a wide range of support in different specialist area. In 2013, our Inclusive Practice FdA achieved national recognition at the Association of Colleges' Beacon Awards.

Our facilities and the innovative approach we have taken to staff development in the field of LDD has not only delivered many benefits across our own College, but is also influencing the delivery of inclusive learning nationally.

Comments from Ofsted, 2013

"Learners with learning or physical disabilities make outstanding progress and can live more independent and enriched lives through the support, education and training they receive at college."

"Learners with identified additional learning support needs are supported well through differentiated classroom activities"

Comments from learners:

"It's helped me to learn that if I put my mind to it I can achieve anything and that is a lesson that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life."

Our next Open Event is on Wed 29th January

Foundation Learning

What is Foundation Learning?

Foundation Learning is an Ofsted 'outstanding' area of Weston College's provision. It includes a number of highly successful, high-quality, programmes for learners aged 16-24 with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

Our Foundation Learning programmes are courses that offer a flexible curriculum that enhances our students' learning experience and provides them the strong 'foundations' that will benefit them as they prepare for working life, independent living, and/or university.

The inclusive programmes are delivered by our professionally qualified and specialist LDD staff who aim to instil self-belief and confidence in our students. The tutorial element is an integral part of the programme’s philosophy, encompassing the development of individual strategies, empowering learners to take responsibility for their own learning. This learner-centred approach uses the College setting to provide pathways to further study.

Foundation Learning comprises Pre-entry, Entry and Level 1 qualifications. All learners’ timetables are personalised to meet individual needs, including a range of vocational options, personal and social development, employability skills, work experience and independent living. Additionally, all learners work towards functional skills in English, maths and ICT.



Why study Foundation Learning at Weston College?

Our Foundation Learning programmes have a 100% success rate.

At Weston College, students have access to a wide range of excellent, high-quality vocational experiences, specialist resources and accommodation across all Weston College campuses, giving learners the opportunity to learn in appropriate contexts, for example, the hairdressing and beauty salons, Grove Restaurant, Badgworth Arena, Sports Centre and the professional kitchens.

The programmes of study are further enhanced throughout the year with opportunities for learners with LDD to participate in additional sporting events, overnight and week-long residential stays, educational visits, lunch-time activities and the end-of-year celebration events. The learners highly value these experiences and it is often the first step in discussing their aspirations for the future.

Coming to College

Moving onto Further Education is a big step for all young people, particularly for those with LDD. At Weston College, we arrange thorough and individualised programmes to ensure the transition is seamless.

Our transition programmes could include:

Meetings with the learner, parents, carers, school staff and external agencies, to establish a close liaison and a partnership approach

  • School or specialist provider observations
  • Attending school review meetings and multi-agency meetings
  • Planning a personalised transition programme with the learner
  • Familiarisation days and taster sessions
  • Collaboration with relevant agencies
  • Access to Entry and Level 1 Link programmes as appropriate
  • School visits
  • Specialist support
  • Initial Needs Assessments to gather full information
  • Diagnostic assessments

Transition periods can last from a month to as much as a year. Each programme is arranged and agreed on an individual basis with each school, specialist provider, or external organisation. It is our experience that this planned transition into College plays a significant role in learners being able to access Weston College successfully.

Similarly, transition programmes support learners to transition out of College and into the next phase of their development - further training, higher education, supported or paid employment, and independent living.

Transport information

Some LDD learners may be entitled to free transport to College provided by the local authority, if they're under 19 years old and live more than three miles from Weston College.

For learners over 19 they can apply for the Vacant Seat Payment Scheme (VSPS) which provides access to this transport at a concessionary price. VSPS is not guaranteed and learners may have to be transported to a pick-up point. It costs around £450 a year. 

Transport options are discussed during the application and interview process. Weston College liaises closely with the local authority and parents and carers are kept up to date with arrangements, priority learners commencing their course.

By bus - discounted bus travel

Learners who can travel independently can buy a bus pass (£70 a term) which allows them to travel five days a week, within North Somerset and Bristol.

Additional costs and financial support

Learners should bring a folder and stationery with them when they start college. Lockers are provided for files and equipment. They can buy drinks, snacks and hot meals from the College Bistro or alternatively bring a packed lunch.

Foundation Learning programmes encourage learners with LDD to take part in challenging sports events, overnight and week-long residential stays, educational visits, lunchtime activities, and end-of-year shows. Overnight stays cost between £35-£50, and summer residentials (3-4 nights) cost between £150-£300, depending on chosen activities.

These additional enrichment activities are real confidence boosters and, so far, every full-time learner has said they enjoyed their additional trips and residentials.

College bursary

Learners can apply for the bursary to get help with costs, if their household income is below £32,000 a year. We can help your son or daughter apply for the bursary over the summer or in September when their course starts. If successful, they'll receive money once a term, and have their Spring and Summer term bus pass paid for. Learners from families with an income below £11,999 a year will also get help with buying lunch.

Your application will need to be accompanied by evidence of your household income (letters from the Inland Revenue, pay slips, or bank statements etc).

How to apply

Thank you for your interest in applying for one of our courses for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities.

Students need to apply using the normal application form and then send this to Weston College by post or online. If you need any assistance completing your application form, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01934 411575.

Once we receive the application, we will make some preliminary enquiries to your school and to Learning Partnership West to find out a little more about you.

We will then invite you in for an interview where we can discuss the best options for you and tell you more about what you can expect from the course.

When you come in to interview, please make sure you bring the completed forms which will be sent to you with your interview invite letter, along with information on your medical history (such as GP name and address and any medication you are taking), your expected qualifications and any certificates you have.


Hopefully, you found the information you were looking for in this section, however if you still have some queries, please take a look at the frequently asked questions below, or give us a call on 01934 411 575.

How much support will I receive?
Where can I go if I feel upset?
How long is the course?
What subjects do I have to do and which are optional?
Will I have the opportunity to go on a residential?
What can I do at break time and during my free time?
Will I receive a qualification at the end?
How will I get to and from College?
What equipment will I need?
How often are tutorials held?
My son/daughter is at College. Who do I contact if I want to discuss any concerns I have?

Apply or find out more

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Once we have responded to your initial enquiry we would love to keep you informed of other, similar courses you may be interested in via email.

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