In my last post I discussed the Feltag report, how it could affect Learners with Learning Difficulties and disabilities (LLDD) in FE and some thoughts on how ALS departments could address these issues. In this post I will be looking at the Children and Families Act 2014 which comes into force on the 1st September. I will be focusing on how ALS teams in FE could make use of Technology.
‘Children and Families Act 2014’ what is it and how will it affect colleges?
Alison Bolton, the Chief Executive of NATSPEC has made this excellent video which explains the act and what it means for FE
This video forms part of the SEND exhibition on the Excellence Gateway
In the video Alison mentions the supporting document “Advice for further education colleges, sixth form colleges, 16 to 19 academies and special post-16 institutions” which can be found at this link
The Act includes the following line “General FE and sixth form colleges must use their best endeavors to secure the special educational provision that the young person needs.” On 7th October, TechDis will be hosting a webinar which will look at the phrase Best Endeavors and identifying how technology can help. You can book onto the Best Endeavors webinar via this link.
Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans
For learners who have been assessed and identified as having specific educational needs and disabilities, the act introduces Education Heath Care Plans.
The EHC Plans:
- Will cover the ages from birth to 25
- Will be outcome focused
- Will gather evidence from, and relate to a broad range of education, health and care agencies
- Will include involvement from families and the young people
For young people with EHC plans, the support they need from a learning provider could become more personalized to meet their specific needs. ALS teams may have to review how support can be provided at these personalised levels. One way of doing this could be to focus on how the ALS team can support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
Feltag Recommendations, The Childrens and Families Bill and Changes to the Disabled Students’ Allowances. All three of these could lead to big changes for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. In a short series of blog posts I will look at each one of these in turn and look at ways learner support in the FE sector can make the most of technology to support learners with these changes. In this first post I will be looking at the Feltag recommendations. Please note this is all based on my personal interpretation of these documents.
What is it?
The Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) was set up in January 2013 by Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise in BIS, as a sector group to make practical recommendations aimed at ensuring the effective use of digital technology in learning, teaching and assessment in Further Education and Skills.
You can read the FELTAG report here and you can read the government’s response to the FELTAG report here.
What Does it say? What could that mean for your learners? What can Learning Support Depts do?
There are lots of recommendations in the report and the government’s response includes information on how they are or are planning to meet many of these recommendations. I have selected a three of these recommendations and made some notes on what it could mean for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities:
Mandate the inclusion in every publicly-funded learning programme from 2015/16 of a 10% wholly-online component…unless a good case is made for why this is not appropriate to a particular programme
This could lead to learners doing more of their learning online, probably on their own devices. How could learning support departments support this?
- Make sure learning support has a good online presence on your website or VLE so learners can access the support they need,This should include:
- Clear details of how learners can contact learner support
- Information on what assistive technology learners can use on their personal devices
- links to resources they can access anytime, like the TechDis Toolbox
- Colleges will be creating/buying in more online learning resources. Do you know a group of Learners who would be happy to test and evaluate these resources from an accessibility point of view? If you do then let the learning technologist know.
Providers need to raise levels of awareness and use of Assistive Technology.
If Assistive Technology isnt a high priority for your ALS team, then now is the time to change that. Have you got an Assistive Technologist or someone in your team to focus on the use and development of Assistive Technology? Have you looked at the excellent resources from the DART Project on developing an Assistive Technologist?
Encourage awarding bodies to increase the amount of e-assessment across Further Education
Increased use of e-assessment has potential benefits and drawbacks for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. There can be problems with some Assistive Technologies not working with some assessment systems for technical and/or legal reasons.
On a related point Richard Mclachlan from Runshaw College has created this video which shows how they are using Orato Screen reader with electronic versions of paper based exams
This demonstrates that some colleges are already looking into the issues of Assistive Technology and Assessment.