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College Experiences

What support is available at college?

Mainstream further education (FE) colleges support students with special educational needs in a similar way to schools. There should be a named person in overall charge of SEN provision, similar to the school special educational needs coordinator (SENCO), and the college must make sure that students with SEN know who they can go to for help.

Extra help your child receives should be detailed in a SEN support plan. The college should involve your child in planning their support and keep records of the additional support given and progress made. This should be reviewed at least three times a year with your child and where appropriate, your family. Colleges should refer to specialist services for further advice and support, for example from education psychologists.

Young people who need more help than a mainstream FE college will have their required support outlined in their EHC plan.

Many young people with SEN will also be disabled. Under the Equality Act 2010, mainstream FE colleges must do everything they reasonably can to remove all the barriers to learning for disabled students.

Support might include:

  • Accessible information, like symbol-based materials.
  • Mentoring.
  • Assistive technology, specialist tuition or note-takers.
  • One-to-one and small group learning support.
  • Access to therapies.
  • Housing/independent living training.

Specialist further education (FE) colleges

A specialist further education college provides education for young people with SEN only. Some have residential facilities and provide what is commonly called a “waking day” or “24-hour” curriculum. Some specialist colleges help their students to attend courses in mainstream colleges.

Your son or daughter would need an EHC plan to go to a specialist college. You or your child can ask the local authority to name a specialist college in their EHC plan following the  annual review. The local authority may refuse your request on the grounds of cost, and it may be necessary to show that there are no alternative cheaper education options available.

For more information about asking for a specialist college to be named in an EHCP, see our webpage Applying for a school place.