My Grandson, who's 22 has Autism and learning disabilities. He went to a special school until the age of 18 and had a statement.
He's had many problems since then to achieve professional support to get cohesive personal skills, continued basic education and vocational training to fit him for the adult world. As a family we put together a programme of voluntary work at a farm, visits to the gym, Mencap social activities etc.
However over the last two years, he has attended the local FE college and passed Level 1 in animal care. They say they cannot offer him progression to Level 2. They suggested an internship at a hotel chain. Although he wants to work with animals he agreed to do two trial sessions, which he enjoyed.
The college now say that the internship is no longer possible but are giving no reasons. They say they are not able to offer any provision to him at all because of funding constraints. My grandson still believes that he will return to college in September or work at the hotel chain because that is what the college led him to believe. He has just had a major upset in his personal life so we feel he could not cope with these disappointments at the moment. We don't know what can be done to determine options for him.
Having just discovered the SEND guidance we are wondering if an EHC plan could solve some of these difficulties. Do you think this is the case? Would this succeed four years after leaving his special school? Can you advise.
I would suggest you request an EHC assessment if you believe your son’s learning difficulty or disability is holding him back at college, and you or your son believes that the college is not able to provide the help and support which is needed.
The EHC needs assessment is the process for the Local Authority(LA) to establish your son’s needs and the provision he will require. The whole process of EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development, from the point when an assessment is requested (or a child or young person is brought to the local authority’s attention) until the final EHC plan is issued, must take no more than 20 weeks.
IPSEA have a produced a model letter, which you can access here to request the EHC assessment. Ensure you ask in writing and keep a copy of your letter. Make a note of the six-week deadline for the LA’s reply.
Where a student has a learning difficulty or disability that calls for special educational provision, the college must use its best endeavours to put appropriate support in place. The effectiveness of the support and its impact on your son’s progress should be reviewed regularly, taking into account his progress and any changes to his ambitions and aspirations, which may lead to changes in the type and level of support. This should include accurate information to evidence the SEN support that has been provided over his time in college and its effectiveness.
Colleges are not expected to meet the full costs of more expensive support from their core and additional funding in their main allocation. They are expected to provide additional support which costs up to a nationally prescribed threshold per student per year. Your LA should provide additional top-up funding where the cost of the special educational provision required to meet the needs of an individual young person exceeds the nationally prescribed threshold. This should reflect the cost of providing the additional support that is in excess of the nationally prescribed threshold.
Colleges are funded by the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for all 16-18-year-olds and for those aged 19-25 who have EHC plans, with support from your LA for students with high needs.
Your son has made progress, and it’s unfair to prevent him from progressing, and it’s damaging for his self-esteem and his trust if they have led him to believe he can return. Your story is all too familiar, and it’s the cohort I am most concerned about, for the reasons you have given.
Keep us posted on your developments.