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Advice about finding a college course

  • First, you need to decide whether you feel able to do a course designed for all students, or a course at a specialist college with expertise in supporting students with a learning difficulty such as SLCN.

  • For information about courses which are suitable for all students, the National Careers Service websitewill let you search for a course you're interested in (e.g. joinery) and tell you all the organisations that provide the course near your home. The site provides short descriptions of what each course involves.

  • If you find more than one course near you which looks good, the Skills Funding Agency website lets you compare which one gets the best results and is rated highly by learners.

  • If you want to go to a specialist college for students who have different types of learning difficulty and disabilities, a good place to get information is the 'Natspec Colleges Directory' on the Association of National Specialist Colleges website. Although these are independent colleges, most are approved by government and will have an S41 symbol to show this. These colleges have agreed that when they are selected on a student's EHC plan, the college must offer the student a place.

  • Each Local Authority must provide a Local Offer listing all the organisations it approves to provide support for young people with SEN living in the area. You can visit your local council's website to find out about what the local offer is near where you live.

  • Before you make a final decision about which college to go to, we recommend that you visit ones you're interested in with your parents during an Open Day. This avoids the problem of you having a long difficult conversation with one member of staff which could be exhausting. At an Open Day (check the college's website for details) you can ask questions when you want and walk around the building. Other students interested in attending the college will also be there on an Open Day.

  • Also if you're thinking of a mainstream college, contact the college's Learning Support Department, so you can explain your needs and find out what sort of help they can provide. It is important to check what types of needs typical students at the college have. Make sure you're not going to be in a peer group of students who are much more disabled than you.
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