Learning disability students 'need more living skills help'

catering college students Image copyright Estyn

Colleges must do more to prepare young people with learning disabilities for independent living, education inspection body Estyn has said.

A report found only a few in Wales set realistic goals to help students develop their communication and work skills.

Inspectors recommended colleges set individual learning plans and design programmes that challenge pupils more.

One college was praised for monitoring pupils regularly and advancing targets.

Twelve colleges in Wales provide programmes for people with learning difficulties and disabilities, which range from autistic spectrum disorder to profound and multiple conditions.

In 2015-16, 1,400 students aged over 16 completed independent living skills (ILS) courses across Wales.

Image copyright Estyn/FE colleges
Image caption This chart shows where students with learning disabilities go after leaving college in Wales

But an inspection found more colleges need to:

  • identify learners' skills and abilities in a bid to improve their communication, independence, employability and wellbeing
  • ensure learning plans reflect the outcomes of initial assessments and include specific, measurable targets
  • design challenging programmes to improve independent living skills
  • include opportunities to develop skills relevant to students' needs and likely destinations when they leave college

It also recommended councils should ensure they give colleges all the relevant information about learners' needs when they start their education and develop broader partnerships with post-16 and voluntary organisations.

It said the Welsh Government should review information on learners' achievements to ensure there is an accurate picture of success rates.

But the report also highlighted good practice at several colleges, including at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai which operates across north and west Wales.

It introduced a six-week assessment at the start of courses to gain information about learners' abilities to ensure long-term goals could be achieved both inside and outside of college.

Inspectors found students made notable achievements, including one student who had difficulty socialising who was now attending a youth club and another who had overcome problems ordering and eating lunch on their own at college.

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