Disability support at college
Further education at college or sixth form can be a great way to pick up new skills, open up new career options or prepare for higher education. Being disabled or having a specific learning difficulty does not need to limit your choices.
Further education and your prospects
Whether you're 16 or 60, there's a huge variety of courses available. Options range from courses covering the basics of reading, writing and numbers to GCSEs and A levels. There are also opportunities to get into work-based learning, through NVQs and apprenticeships.
Having an impairment or a learning difficulty does not have to limit your options. You will need to take care choosing the course and institution that are right for you.
Support at college or sixth form
Colleges and sixth forms have to make 'reasonable adjustments' so that disabled people don't suffer a substantial disadvantage. They might, for example, provide one-to-one support, a sign language interpreter or copies of documents in other formats.
They may also be able to offer assistance during assessments or exams, so that all learners are assessed fairly. If you're likely to need this help, speak to a member of staff at the start of your course.
The type of support available varies, so it's important to check beforehand. It's a good idea to visit the place so you can see what's available for yourself. The college's Learning Support Adviser or Special Education Needs Co-ordinator will be able to give you details.
You can also get a copy of the college or school's Disability Equality Statement. This sets out how it plans to promote equal opportunities for disabled people. You may need support that does not get covered in the Disability Statement. However, the college may be able to provide it, so you need to ask.
Going to a specialist college
If your local college can't offer a course to suit your disability-related needs, you may be able to get a place at a specialist college. Most of these colleges are independent and cater specifically for students with disabilities or learning difficulties. They are often residential.
Contact the Careers Helpline for Young People (0800 100 900) if you think this might be an option for you.
You will need to get financial support from the Young People's Learning Agency, based on an assessment of your needs. The assessment is carried out by the Connexions service. You can also get advice about the application process from the service.
Getting into further education at 16
Making the transition from school to further education
If you had a statement of special educational needs while at school, you should have a 'transition plan' giving details of the support you'll need once you leave. If you stay on at school to attend sixth form, you'll continue to get the help set out in your statement.
Your sixth form or college should pay for your learning support. Personal or medical care services will be arranged through your local health authority or social services department.
Advice on your options after 16
The Careers Helpline for Young People provides advice on learning, careers and more. If you are disabled or have a learning difficulty, you can get support up to the age of 25.
•telephone: 0800 100 900
•text phone: 08000 968 336
Advice on adult learning courses
The National Careers Service offers free careers and skills advice. Help is available online, over the phone or face-to-face.
You can also book a free call back from an adviser through the National Careers Service website, or send a question by email.