Written response to the recommendations from Motherwell College
Access to Further and Higher Education
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
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.
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.
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
Mainstreaming equality in the further and higher education sectors – monitoring and
See Recommendation 37.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
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
The College has school link programmes and participates in the transition
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.
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
The College agrees with this recommendation.
Transition support – Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act
Motherwell College supports this recommendation.
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.
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
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.
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
Transition support – key worker
66. The Committee wishes to see More Choices, More Chances benefit the needs of
young disabled people specifically.
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).
The College agrees with this recommendation and has already taken this
initiative on board with the appointment of Key Support Workers. These
positions are currently being used to support programmes (More Choices,
More Chances). Within the Department of Support for Learning, Course Tutors
support this work.
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
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).
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;
• 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.
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
71. In order to remove the barriers that current funding arrangements can present to
disabled learners accessing further and higher education, the Committee
• 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
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
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).
Student Awards Agency for Scotland – information
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
We understand that the SAAS are currently undertaking a review of their
Student Awards Agency for Scotland – application process
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
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
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
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.
78. The Committee recommends that the Student Awards Agency for Scotland
conduct a monitoring and evaluation exercise targeted specifically at Disabled
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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