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Learning disabled students lose specialist college places

The LSC has terminated its contract with Coleg Elidyr leaving vulnerable students stranded

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26 August 2009

The Guardian has reported that a decision by the soon-to-be disbanded Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will have a devastating impact on a group of young people with learning difficulties who were set to join Coleg Elidyr, a specialist college in Wales. The LSC has terminated its contract with the college which means that students who are attending Coleg Elidyr or due to start there this autumn will now have to try and make other arrangements if they are to fund the majority of their fees.

This group of vulnerable students have difficulty in understanding why they will not be able to go to the college. Existing students will probably have to leave the college and are deeply upset about this.

Coleg Elidyr is mystified about to the reasons for its contract being terminated by the LSC but understands that it is for educational reasons after an ‘Ofsted’ report. However, the college has not been inspected for six years. A normal Estyn (HM Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales) annual monitoring visit to the college took place in May 2009.

In mainstream colleges, a poor report is followed by an LSC notice to improve. There is concern as to why Coleg Elidyr has not been given a similar chance, in particular since it caters for learners who are likely to find it much more difficult to find an alternative placement, given their particular needs. There is speculation that the termination of the college's contract may be linked in to the demise of the LSC, which is due shortly to hand funding responsibility to local councils.

The human rights team at Leigh Day & Co represents a number of learning disabled people and their families. Vulnerable students who attend such colleges as Coleg Elidyr have to overcome many challenges and it is vital that as much continuity as possible is provided for them as possible.

Alison Millar, Leigh Day partner, says:

"It is disturbing that some of the most vulnerable students appear to have been left high and dry by the LSC, with little thought seemingly given to how they will now access further education. All too often the needs of this group seem to be low down the priorities, even though further education is everyone's right and vital if young people with special needs are to learn the independence skills necessary for them to make the transition from their families."

Please contact Alison Millar for more information on 020 7650 1241

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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