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  • 1. Written response to the recommendations from Motherwell College Access to Further and Higher Education Recommendation 36 46. The Committee recommends that service provision to disabled people should be highlighted specifically, along with targets and implementation mechanisms, in any future update of the lifelong learning strategy published by the Scottish Executive (paragraph 619). Scottish Executive – More Choices, More Chances Motherwell College agrees that this recommendation is important. This is an issue that has been highlighted in the current Strategic Plan, and is the focus of the College’s Inclusiveness Policy and Disability Statement. Recommendation 37 47. The Committee recommends that specific work is done to ensure that the needs of young disabled people are fully taken into account throughout the implementation of the Scottish Executive strategy More Choices, More Chances4 (paragraph 625). The College’s current portfolio of provision supports and encourages the participation of young disabled people and ensures that their needs are taken into account. Specific programmes are being delivered to this group of young people, informed by joint working with Careers Scotland, NLSE, SLC (OPEL) and the Shaw Trust, to develop further programmes for young disabled people. Mainstreaming equality in the further and higher education sectors – Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council – Self Assessment Evaluation Motherwell College has established a single Equality and Diversity Strategy Group, chaired by a member of the College’s Senior Executive Team to encourage mainstreaming of equality within all aspects of the College’s provision. Work is in progress to develop a single equality scheme, action plan and impact assessment framework. Recommendation 38 48. The Committee welcomes the self-evaluation work done by the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council and recommends that it builds on this monitoring and evaluation work to take forward the mainstreaming agenda and to roll out good practice in service provision to disabled people across the sector (paragraph 640). Mainstreaming equality in the further and higher education sectors – monitoring and evaluation See Recommendation 37.
  • 2. 49. The Committee considers the monitoring and evaluation of service provision to disabled people crucial, especially when stakeholders are involved. Annual Progress Reports of Equality Action Plans and monitoring and review of the College’s Strategic and Operational Plans ensures that appropriate impact assessments are carried out, to monitor and evaluate service provision. Recommendation 39 50. The Committee recommends that all further and higher education providers seek stakeholder feedback in relation to the services that they provide and respond where appropriate (paragraph 645). Consultation with key stakeholders is a key feature in the development of the College’s provision. Specific consultation with a wide range of stakeholder groups was undertaken as part of the College’s response to the Disability Equality Duty and its other legislative requirements. Appropriate actions were identified and plans developed to address issues highlighted. Legislative awareness Recommendation 40 51. The Committee recommends that further and higher education providers should develop mechanisms which allow them to go beyond the minimum specifications in the Disability Discrimination Act with regard to informing disabled students about their legal rights (paragraph 653). The College believes that its current mechanisms go beyond the minimum obligations set out in the DDA. Much of this work is undertaken by the Department of Community and Learner Services and the work of the Access Centre. This is supplemented by Extended Learning Support (ELS) work and is complemented by the additional support provided by Communication Support Workers, Classroom Support Workers and Course Tutors employed by the College. This is an area of work that features in positive HMIe reviews. Citizenship elements are also a key part of course provision in the Department of Support for Learning at the College. Recommendation 41 52. The Committee welcomes the toolkit developed by the funding council to ensure that further and higher education providers comply with their duties under the Disability Discrimination Act and recommends that further and higher education providers make full use of it and other resources available to them (paragraph 655). See Recommendation 40 Partnership working – Partnership Matters
  • 3. Recommendation 42 53. In order to ensure proper partnership working at all levels of the further and higher education sector, the Committee recommends that— • the Scottish Executive explore how it could extend Partnership Matters5 to apply to universities; and • the outcomes of Partnership Matters be monitored and evaluated with a view to Partnership Matters being reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that partnership working is as effective as possible, that the impact on service users is determined, that best practice is highlighted and that any difficulties identified are addressed (paragraph 667). Partnership working – Lifelong Partners Motherwell College are full partners in Partnership Matters, with a range of local stakeholders. The College is a member of the Partnership Matters Lanarkshire Forum, which has been highlighted as good practice in the new version of Partnership Matters. The College has effective partnership arrangements with six Local Authorities and actively promotes cross-Colleges working. Recommendation 43 54. The Committee recommends that Lifelong Partners be reviewed as a matter of urgency to consider how best it can be delivered to support disabled learners and how targets for disabled learners can be incorporated into the various monitoring and evaluation processes already in place (paragraph 673). Information 55. The Committee considers that further and higher education providers could do more to provide accessible information to potential and current students. Motherwell College provides a range of marketing materials to provide information in an accessible format. Key contact information is highlighted on plasma screens in the entrance foyer. Printed materials are made available in various formats and languages to support equality. The College website has been acknowledged by the Scottish Accessibility Forum as being accessible to users and additional learner promotional material for our special programmes has been developed. Course materials are regularly reviewed and significant work has been done in enhancing the College’s library provision. The Learner Services Manager with responsibility for the library is a member of the College’s Equality Action Group.
  • 4. Recommendation 44 56. The Committee recommends that all providers, in conjunction with their disabled students, carry out a taking stock exercise of the information they provide to ensure it is appropriate and meets the needs of disabled students (paragraph 687). Such an exercise has already been carried out at the College and the information provided is reviewed on an ongoing basis. The Extended Learning Support Services are evaluated on an annual basis. Personal care partnership arrangements are also reviewed on an annual basis. Careers advice – schools Recommendation 45 57. The Committee recommends that Scottish Ministers should rectify the lack of careers guidance to young disabled people in schools as a matter of urgency by developing a programme of training, including appropriate standards, for those providing such guidance. This training should also contain clear, realistic and accurate guidance on the effect that certain impairments may have on career choices and an emphasis on the appropriate support arrangements and adjustments that can be made to minimise any barriers to career choices (paragraph 703). Agree with recommendation to be progressed specifically with Careers Scotland and School staff. Recommendation 46 58. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Executive should work with, for example, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the funding council, to consider how best to promote close working relationships between schools and further and higher education providers in a co-ordinated fashion across Scotland (paragraph 706). The College has school link programmes and participates in the transition review process. Careers advice – careers staff The College believes that there is a need to review current service level agreements between FE Colleges and Careers Scotland. The College has, however, established good Key Support Worker links with Careers Scotland. In addition, we have effective participation by Careers Advisers in Support for Learning programmes, supporting the transition from FE to HE. The College shares the sectors general concerns about the effectiveness of the service level agreements with the careers service on the ground.
  • 5. Recommendation 48 60. In order to assist in raising expectations amongst young disabled people, the Committee recommends that— • the focus of careers advice to disabled people should move from what people cannot do to what positive options are available to them; and • research be carried out examining the progress of disabled graduates. The Committee hopes that such research will identify positive examples and role models for schools and further and higher education providers to promote (paragraph 737). The College agrees with this recommendation. Transition support – Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act Motherwell College supports this recommendation. Recommendation 49 61. The Committee recommends that there must be systematic planning from schools, the careers service and colleges or universities to ensure that the support a disabled student receives whilst in transition is seamless. The Committee notes that the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 may have the potential to achieve this. The Committee considers that the Scottish Executive should commission research to establish best practice in this area (paragraph 754). Transition support – college/university life These issues were partly addressed through the Beattie Report “Implementing Inclusiveness Realising Potential,” but recommendations were not fully implemented. The College believes that there is a need for an ‘Adult Record of Needs’ or a similar co-ordinated support plan to support provision of seamless services. Current planning is ad hoc and a model for compulsory systematic planning is needed. The College would welcome developments in this area. Recommendation 50 62. The Committee recommends that information on life changes likely to be experienced at college or university should be included in careers advice to young disabled people. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Executive examine whether there is scope for this to be integrated as part of the requirements of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (paragraph 759). Transition support - assessments 63. The Committee considers the situation where students are forced to pay for an assessment to confirm impairments that the Scottish Qualifications Authority has already accepted for the purpose of special arrangements during examinations as
  • 6. unacceptable and one which does not benefit any student who is making the transition from school to college or university. FE Colleges already use student hardship funds for this payment where possible, however, access to these funds is means tested. Recommendation 52 65. In order to encourage more disabled learners to take advantage of early starts and familiarisation visits to acclimatise and to access and identify any additional requirements for support, the Committee recommends that— • further and higher education providers should consider how best to provide early starts and familiarisation visits to disabled people as a matter of course, before students commence the academic year; • the Student Awards Agency for Scotland works with further and higher education providers to publicise that early start support and funding is available to potential students; and • Scottish Ministers explore how familiarisation visits could be funded to allow disabled students the opportunity to fully investigate their choice of further or higher education provider (paragraph 773). Motherwell College agrees that funding should be made available for this initiative. This should be complemented by an adjustment to Colleges’ SUMS allocation to reflect the ELS weighting that this group of learners would attract. The College currently funds pre-course assessment activities, including transport and residence fees, on from its own resources. Funding is also provided to support Classroom Support Worker provision for hearing impaired learners on link programmes. A review of how this work is funded would be welcomed. Transition support – key worker 66. The Committee wishes to see More Choices, More Chances benefit the needs of young disabled people specifically. Recommendation 53 67. In order to ensure that key worker provision benefits disabled people, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Executive should carry out an assessment of the different approaches currently taken with respect to key workers and transition support in Scotland. The aim of such an assessment should be to identify optimum practice that can then be disseminated across the country as part of the implementation of the strategy for young disabled people not in education, employment or training (paragraph 791). Occupational standards The College agrees with this recommendation and has already taken this initiative on board with the appointment of Key Support Workers. These
  • 7. positions are currently being used to support programmes (More Choices, More Chances). Within the Department of Support for Learning, Course Tutors support this work. Recommendation 54 68. In order to remove the potential barriers caused by professional occupational standards, the Committee recommends that— • the careers service, colleges, universities and the Scottish Qualifications Authority should develop clear and appropriate guidance to ensure that students in every situation are in a position to make informed and considered career choices; The College meets this recommendation as the College’s Operational Plan identifies the need to work closer with Job Centre Plus, Careers Scotland and other referral agencies. In addition, within the Department of Support for Learning, North Lanarkshire Supported Employment (NLSE) and South Lanarkshire Council attend appropriate reviews. • professional bodies and government agencies work in partnership with the careers service and further and higher education providers to provide regular up-to-date information on how specific impairments might affect a person’s ability to be considered for a particular career; and • Scottish Ministers should work with professional bodies and government agencies to review occupational standards set by professional organisations to ensure that artificial barriers do not exist to disabled people choosing careers in professions which they represent (paragraph 798). Disclosure Recommendation 55 69. In order to remove the barriers to disclosure and to ensure disabled learners receive appropriate services, the Committee recommends that— • all further and higher education providers should develop and foster suitable procedures and environments to encourage students to disclose a disability; and • further and higher education providers share techniques which will support a disabled person’s choice to disclose (paragraph 809). The College currently operates a number of ‘catch all’ referral mechanisms to ensure that appropriate support is available, but would welcome a more structured and centralised approach. Any changes which promote early disclosure will benefit learner transition.
  • 8. Communication support Recommendation 56 70. The Committee considers the issue of communication support to students to go much wider than British Sign Language interpretation and recommends that the Scottish Executive, the funding council and further and higher education providers should work together to investigate ways of increasing the availability of a comprehensive range of communication support to disabled students, such as Deafblind communicators, Palantypists, Makaton, graphic symbol charts, speech-to- text reporters and British Sign Language interpreters (paragraph 815). The BSL and Linguistic Access group are currently exploring ways in which a comprehensive range of communication support would be available to Deaf people. The group is made up of representation from colleges, universities, audiologists, organisations representing Deaf people, NDCS, SASLI, RNID, Deafblind Scotland and others interested parties. Deaf Working group chaired by Equality Forward is also working to this aim. Currently this group are compiling a proposal for submission for funding for a Centre for Linguistic Access. The Centre would be formed around the aims set out in the research conducted by Mary Brennan, Marion Grimes and Ernst Thoutenhoofd in the publication “Deaf Students in Scottish Higher Education” published by Moray House School of Education and funded by SHEFC. It is essential that good quality training is available to train professional staff who will support learners and also that institutions have a reliable and up to date source of information regarding the appropriate support. If this resource is centrally placed then there would be the possibility for further developments to take place. Specialist input is also required for learners using Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs). Funding – Disabled Students Allowance Recommendation 57 71. In order to remove the barriers that current funding arrangements can present to disabled learners accessing further and higher education, the Committee recommends that— • all funding providers should review their systems with a view to simplifying them and making more accessible information available to students; • the funding council and the Student Awards Agency for Scotland should review the system of funding support to students where it results in students being refused funding support because the cost of communication support is deemed to be prohibitive; • as part of the current review of funding being undertaken by the funding council, consideration be given to extending Disabled Students Allowance to
  • 9. non-higher level further education students or introducing an alternative model to meet the same objective. The Committee believes that this would go some way to removing the current inequalities in the student funding system; and • any new funding mechanism should ensure that funding follows the student rather than the student having to chase funding sources and that simplified and accessible information is available (paragraph 830). Agree that the system for learners should be easily accessed although institutions will require to maintain documents and procedures under current DDA, Additional Support for Learning legislation. SFC have recently announced an increase of 60% for the funding available to learners for non medical personal help which will assist with the funding for support for visually impaired/blind learners and Deaf/hard of hearing learners. When considering how the funding would follow the learner and /or extending DSA provision to non advanced learners account should be taken of the likelihood of an increase in paperwork and time delay if control of the award of funding is removed from the college. This will also mean a potential increase in staffing requirements to assess, submit and organise support when waiting for the award to be made. The College agrees with the proposal to consider extending support to non- higher level FE learners. Funding – Disabled Students Premiums Recommendation 58 72. The Committee recommends that future funding to universities for service provision to disabled students should no longer be dependent on how many disabled students attend; rather it should focus on actual service provision to disabled students (paragraph 839). Not applicable. Student Awards Agency for Scotland – information Recommendation 59 73. The Committee recommends that, with immediate effect, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland should review its provision of material in alternative formats, in consultation with disabled learners and representative organisations, and also that it should produce a strategy for the promotion and distribution of this information (paragraph 844). We understand that the SAAS are currently undertaking a review of their materials. Student Awards Agency for Scotland – application process
  • 10. Recommendation 60 74. The Committee recommends that the Student Awards Agency for Scotland review its application procedure for Disabled Students Allowance with a view to simplifying it and making it fully accessible (paragraph 851). The Disabled Stakeholders Group have recently provided advice and suggested changes to SAAS representatives on making the DSA form fully accessible. Recommendation 61 75. The Committee agrees that the timing of applications to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland can present a barrier and result in a backlog of applications. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Student Awards Agency for Scotland and the funding council work with further and higher education providers to identify disabled students earlier and signpost the Student Awards Agency for Scotland services to them (paragraph 853). Agree that earlier identification of support needs would assist learners in accessing their chosen institution. It would also be helpful if institutions could provide loan of equipment to learners until their own funding is provided. If funding is provided before the learner embarks on a course then more robust measures would need to be in place to recover equipment and funding in situations where the learner has misrepresented their position or not appeared on course. Recommendation 62 76. The Committee recommends that the Student Awards Agency for Scotland should keep its method of service provision to disabled people under review and regularly evaluate how this service is viewed by disabled people (paragraph 857). Agreed and the results of the review should be available to the public. Student Awards Agency for Scotland – monitoring and evaluation of services 77. The Committee does not consider the evaluation currently undertaken by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland to be sufficient to gather feedback from disabled students. Agree with Committee’s position on this. Monitoring and evaluating of service should include qualitative and quantitative evidence and should be robust demonstrating how public funds are spent. Recommendation 63 78. The Committee recommends that the Student Awards Agency for Scotland conduct a monitoring and evaluation exercise targeted specifically at Disabled
  • 11. Students Allowance over a set period of time in order to gather relevant feedback on its services from disabled students (paragraph 861). Currently there are 2 reviews of DSA being undertaken – Toolkit of needs assessment which is in a pilot phase and which aims to validate institutions to undertake DSA assessments for their own learners and so to alleviate in the waiting time which learners experience before they receive funding. Equality Forward are undertaking research into how the existing resources and funding for institutions provide a supportive climate in which assessment of support needs takes place. This includes DSA and non advanced learners. Information from both of these reviews will contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of SAAS services. Courses – “pretendy” courses Recommendation 64 79. In order to ensure that the barriers, such as those presented by “pretendy” courses, are removed, the Committee recommends that— • the Scottish Executive should consider and address the perception that colleges are becoming day centres. The Committee notes that this situation may conflict with the social inclusion agenda, but considers that it must be dealt with more effectively to ensure appropriate choice and service provision to disabled people; • the Scottish Executive, the funding council and further and higher education providers develop solutions to ensure that students are not forced to study life courses as a means of keeping occupied, as an easy option for social services, or to get colleges extra funding; and • if a disabled person is placed on such a course, then it must be as a result of personal choice and as part of a structured programme of evaluation and development (paragraph 883). • The terminology of ‘pretendy’ courses is demeaning and Motherwell College deplores the use of such terminology and is nonplussed to identify where it came from. Clear criteria for quality assurance and progression, including monitoring and audit processes should be a requirement for funding. All courses meet SFC quality assurance standards and all courses show evidence of progression for learners. The same criteria for progression within a College should be applied to learners moving between Colleges. If there are perceived problems in quality terms with the College curriculum these should be addressed through the SFC quality assurance system. Courses – vocational courses
  • 12. 80. The Committee considers that there should be a greater provision of vocational courses tailored to employability skills to allow disabled people more choice in the courses that they opt for. Motherwell College supports and agrees with this recommendation Recommendation 65 81. The Committee notes the Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning’s desire to build on existing work in this area and recommends that the Scottish Executive devise a programme for increasing vocational training opportunities so that disabled learners can access them if they choose to do so (paragraph 890). The delivery of individual programmes within a continuum of special programmes provision encourages progression to vocational FE /HE courses. There should be, however, a review of funding mechanisms to support transport, workplace support and the accessibility for work placements. Recommendation 66 82. The Committee recommends that the Scottish Qualifications Authority work with further and higher education providers to provide accessibility and access modules as integral parts of courses with a clear requirement for inclusion, for example, courses on architecture, website design and teaching. The Committee does not wish to be prescriptive in detailing which courses should have accessibility included and considers this to be a matter for the Scottish Qualifications Authority to determine (paragraph 898). Support for students with complex needs – residential college 83. The Committee does not consider, on the basis of the evidence it has heard, that the case has been made for a residential college in Scotland. Equally, however, the Committee agrees that current service provision for students with complex needs is not adequate. Motherwell College already provide for a number of learners with complex needs. The College notes the Committee’s position. We are disappointed however, having invested significantly in our infrastructure at Ravenscraig, at the timing of this position being reached. The College agrees that current service provision for learners with complex needs may not be consistent across Scotland, however, any new residential provision within colleges for learners with complex needs has significant resource implications and would urge this Committee to revisit this issue as a matter of urgency. Recommendation 67 84. The Committee, therefore, recommends that colleges should review existing provision with a view to developing courses and facilities appropriate for students with complex needs (paragraph 918).
  • 13. See Recommendation 66. 85. The Committee notes the funding concerns of local authorities but considers that provision for people with complex needs should be mainstreamed. The College believes that clear funding and responsibility guidelines are needed to support, Social Work, Health Authorities and education stakeholders in developing this provision. Recommendation 68 86. Therefore, the Committee recommends that consideration should be given to funding provision for students with complex needs from the funding council, along with other further and higher education provision (paragraph 920). The College agrees that funding methodology should be reviewed to accommodate the needs of this group of learners. Individual support, using a variant of the SAAS model, could achieve this. Teachability Project Recommendation 70 88. The Committee recommends that each higher education provider review their living accommodation provision, including from private sources, with a view to assessing its accessibility and the choice that it offers disabled students. The Committee considers that any upgrade or provision of new accommodation presents an opportunity to provide a range of fully accessible accommodation that goes beyond minimum requirements and provides disabled students with a choice of accommodation (paragraph 940). The Motherwell College Halls of Residence (Stewart Hall) was purpose-built, specifically to accommodate learners with a range of disabilities. Stewart Hall has achieved the highest grading from external agencies and the model has been used as the basis for the design of the new halls of residence at the new College to be built at Ravenscraig. Motherwell College agrees that this issue should not simply apply to higher education providers but all education providers. Motherwell College December 2007