Ofsted report: are local authorities ‘Moving Forward’?

Image taken outside RNC student hub ramp – Calum is in the foreground walking towards the camera. Liam is standing against some railings with Guide Dog George. Tiri, James, Ieuan and George are also gathered together having a chat.

A new independent Ofsted report, published last month, has highlighted the fact that practice and support available in the UK for young people with disabilities is a ‘postcode lottery’.

 

The report entitled ‘Moving Forward?’ focussed on preparing young people with high needs for adult life and was published 18 months after the implementation of the Children and Families Act 2014. Unfortunately, despite this legislation, the fact remains that young people often receive inconsistent support depending on the effectiveness of the commissioning arrangements from the local authority in which they live. More needs to be done to ensure that young people with disabilities, and their families, have access to all educational options available to them so they are able to make an informed decision about their future.

 

At RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), far too often we have parents say that they have been told by their local authorities that they will not get funding to attend an out of county specialist provider. Alena Critoph, RNC’s Registrar explains “When parents are told this, they often feel they have nowhere else to turn because they believe what they’re being told. Rather than giving young people the option to explore a full range of training opportunities, as outlined in the Local Offer, a lot of local authorities can often be too focussed on offering in-county options, where provision is not often suitable to meet that young person’s needs.”

 

Poor communication within local authorities between education, health and social care departments has meant that young people are not prepared for adult life and their provision is based on what is available nearby, rather than based on the needs, interests and aspirations of the individual learner. However, Ofsted praises specialist provision for the holistic support offered. RNC Principal Mark Fisher recently appeared on BBC Breakfast to say “At RNC, we treat every one of our students as an individual and take account of all their needs. No two students have the same timetable and in addition to their core areas of study they will have a combination of IT skills, mobility, independent living skills and braille, according to their needs. We try, as far as we can, to prepare our students for the real world when they leave us, providing them with life skills they will need in the future.”

 

Alena adds “Time and time again we have young people who only find out that they’ve successfully obtained funding to attend RNC late in the year, often in the summer holidays and sometimes when term’s already started. It’s a big adjustment to make; moving to a residential college with no time to prepare. This puts so much pressure on young people and their families, especially during GCSE exam season, when many young people are anxious about what their future holds and this can adversely affect their exam results.”

 

We are the UK’s leading Further Education College for young people aged 16-25 with visual impairment, if want to find out more about studying with us at RNC, please call our Student Enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

Visit the NATSPEC (Association of National Specialist Colleges) website to find out more about specialist provision available for young people with disabilities across the UK.

 

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC