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."
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.
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.
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?
Students are assessed on an individual basis to determine their support needs, and a support programme will be developed if appropriate. Group sizes are deliberately kept small to enable the tutor and support worker(s) in each session to target the learning needs of each student. Individual support will also be provided outside of the classroom environment to include work placements, breakfast and lunch club and break times.
Where can I go if I feel upset?
Students should discuss their concerns with their tutor or a member of the Specialist Support team. All of our staff offices operate an open-door policy so students are more than welcome to drop in at any time.
How long is the course?
Our Foundation Learning courses are all offered for an initial one-year period which will be reviewed towards the end of the year. Students studying on Extension Studies may be able to continue for more than one year if deemed appropriate. Students studying on Preparation for Work and Life may be able to continue for a further two years if it is deemed appropriate.
What subjects do I have to do and which are optional?
All students will take part in a group tutorial where you will learn about various aspects of personal and social development. All students also attend lessons in ICT, English and Maths, but, these lessons are catered to each student’s ability and group sizes are small so you can learn in the best possible environment.
All students can then freely choose from a variety of vocational subjects.
Will I have the opportunity to go on a residential?
Yes, all students get an opportunity to go on a residential and there are also many day trips organised throughout the year. Students may be able to get financial support to pay for these trips through the bursary scheme.
What can I do at break time and during my free time?
Many learners may choose to go out into town at lunchtime with their friends which is absolutely fine, but some learners who don’t feel confident going out can have lunch in the Bistro. Here, there are members of staff to support you and there are also a number of lunchtime activities students can get involved in.
Students who require support at break times and lunchtimes will receive it, including support to enable access to the various lunchtime activities and enrichment opportunities.
Will I receive a qualification at the end?
For students on the Preparation for Work and Life course, we aim for you to achieve an Asdan qualification in either Employability, Personal and Social Development or Personal Progress depending on how long you stay with us and what is appropriate in working towards your agreed outcomes.
For students on Extension Studies, we aim for you to achieve an NOCN Step up qualification which is a very flexible qualification, enabling you to work towards units in a number of different subject areas.
Students on both courses will achieve NCFE functional skills qualifications in English, maths and ICT where it is appropriate.
How will I get to and from College?
Many students will purchase a termly bus pass when they come to enroll which is offered at a reduced price. However, for some students, getting to College on public transport can be really difficult and some students are eligible for North Somerset’s Home to College transport scheme. For more information on this, please see our transport information page.
What equipment will I need?
Students will be provided with many of the relevant materials for their classes which will include paper, craft supplies for art, protective clothing and wood for DIY, food for budget cookery or anything else you might need which is relevant to your session. Students will however be asked to pay £25 at the beginning of the year to help cover the costs of this and will be asked to bring in a pen and folder.
How often are tutorials held?
All students will be allocated a personal tutor and will have a tutorial at least once-a-week but some students might need them more frequently. The tutorial time will be agreed between the student and tutors at the start of the course. Of course, if there is anything you need to urgently talk to your tutor about, they will be more than happy to see you at any time. The tutorial programme is an integral part of the students programme.
My son/daughter is at College. Who do I contact if I want to discuss any concerns I have?
Details of your son or daughter’s Personal Tutor will be given to you at the beginning of the year, along with their email address and telephone number. Our tutors do try to keep in regular contact with all parents as a matter of course and many parents like to use a communication book which the tutors can write in for the students to take home with them. Regular parent / carer meetings will take place throughout the year.