High needs learners are not always receiving the support they need to reach their potential


Ofsted finds that too many young people with learning difficulties and disabilities are poorly prepared for adult life, in new survey report.

The report, 'Moving forward? How well the further education and skills sector is preparing young people with high needs for adult life', explores the early implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014, and the impact it has had on the lives and prospects of learners with high needs.

In the past, ineffective arrangements between education, health and social care agencies have impacted on the ability of high needs learners to successfully transition from school, to post-16 provision and to adult life. The Children and Families Act 2014 made a firm commitment to tackle this. Ofsted’s report finds that, of the local authorities and further education (FE) providers surveyed, the implementation of the Act had not been fully effective. As a result the support that high needs learners received, at the time of the fieldwork, varied considerably.

The report highlights a number of concerns about arrangements, including:

  • nearly half of the providers visited not having adequate strategies, experience or expertise to support their learners with learning difficulties or disabilities
  • specialist, impartial careers guidance found to be generally weak, with 16 of the 20 local authority websites reviewed failing to provide sufficiently detailed information
  • too many learners on programmes that do not lead to further learning, employment or independent/supported living
  • slow progress by high needs learners in English and mathematics
  • poor recording of learners’ progress, meaning many are not achieving their full potential

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