Applying to further education
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Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities
Chief Executive: Barbara Waters
Unit 3, Floor 3, Radisson Court, 219 Long Lane,
London SE1 4PR
Telephone: 020 7450 0620
Fax: 020 7450 0650
Information service opening hours
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(2397897) and a registered charity (801970)
also registered in Scotland (SC039212)
1 Introduction ........................................................................ 1 2 What is further education? ................................................ 2 3 Where can I study or do work-based training? ............... 5
4 How do I choose a course or training opportunity? ..... 10
5 What kind of support can I get? ..................................... 12 6 Who will provide the support I need? ............................. 16
7 Funding and finance ........................................................ 19 8 Useful publications .......................................................... 20 9 Useful contacts................................................................. 23
This booklet will help you think about your options in further
education and training if you are leaving school aged 16. The
booklet will also be useful for you if you are older and
considering going back into education or training. For more
detailed information on studying in Scotland, see the Skill
booklet Further education and training in Scotland: guidance for disabled people.
When applying to do a further education course, you will need to
think about what you are best at and what you would most like to
do. You will also have to think about any extra support you may
need because of your impairment, additional support needs or
2 What is further education?
Further education is usually for people aged 16 years or over
and does not involve studying at degree level or higher. Further
education either takes place in colleges, the workplace or a
combination of both. You can also study at home, which is called
open or distance learning. See Skill’s information booklet
Opportunities in Open or Distance Learning for more
Further education includes:
? work-related courses, for example National or Scottish
Vocational Qualifications (NVQs or SVQs), General NVQs
and BTEC National Diplomas
? vocational GCSEs and AVCEs (Advanced Vocational
Certificate of Education). AVCEs are taught in 12 units, so a
6 unit course is equivalent to an AS level
? academic courses up to A2 level standard, including GCSE
and AS level
? courses which are between levels 1-6 on the Scottish Credit
and Qualifications Framework SCQF. For more information
see the Further education and training in Scotland
? basic skills courses, such as literacy and numeracy
? courses that do not lead to a formal qualification, such as
independent living skills courses
? foundation courses that are not an integral part of a degree
? access courses, which allow people who do not hold formal
qualifications to go on to higher education
? continuing or adult education courses
? link courses for school pupils.
From 2008, specialised Diplomas are being offered at levels 1, 2
and 3. These will be offered to 14-19 year olds in certain areas
? schools, colleges and employers working together. The first
5 subjects will be introduced in 2008, with 9 more subjects
being introduced in the following years. The first 5 subjects
that will be offered starting from 2008 are:
? Construction and the Built Environment
? Creative and Media
? Information and Technology
? Society, Health and Development.
You can find out which of these courses are being offered in your
area by contacting local schools and colleges, or your local
careers or Connexions service.
As well as class-based courses, there is also a range of
vocational training programmes. They usually involve on-the-job
training in the workplace and sometimes off-the-job training in a
college. These include:
? Entry to Employment (e2e)
What qualifications can I get?
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland entry level and levels 1
to 3 on the National Qualifications Framework are further
education see table 1 for more information. Levels 4 to 8 are
higher education, you can find out more about higher education
in Skill’s information booklet Applying to Higher Education.
In Scotland levels 1 to 6 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications
Framework SCQF are further education, see table 2 for more
information. Levels 7 to 12 are higher education, you can find out
more about higher education in Scotland from Skill’s information
booklet Higher Education in Scotland: guidance for disabled
Table 1: Qualifications England, Wales and Northern Ireland
NQF General Vocational NVQ Level
Entry Level 1, 2 BTEC Certificates in Life Entry
and 3 Skills
Certificates and BTEC Certificates in Skills
Awards for Working Life
GCSEs Vocational GCSEs grades Entry to 1
Grades D to G D to G Employment
Specialised Foundation GNVQ (E2E)
Diplomas BTEC Introductory Award
GCSEs or Vocational GCSEs grades Level 2 2
grades A* to C A* to C
Specialised Intermediate GNVQ
Diplomas BTEC First Diploma
A Level AVCE Levels Level 3 3
Access courses Advanced GNVQ
Specialised BTEC National Diploma
Table 2: Qualifications Scotland
SCQF SQA courses SVQs level
Access level 1 1
Access level 2 2
Access level 3; Standard Grade Foundation 3
Intermediate level 1; SVQ level 1 4
Standard Grade General
Intermediate level 2; SVQ level 2 5
Standard Grade Credit
Higher SVQ level 3 6
3 Where can I study or do work-based training?
Staying at school
You may be able to stay at your current school if it accepts
students beyond age 16. You can take academic courses such
as A levels or Scottish Highers, or you can take a work-based
course such as a General National Vocational Qualification
(GNVQ) or a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ). You could
also consider changing to a different sixth form school for a
better course or better support. Your Connexions Personal
Adviser (PA) or Careers Scotland Adviser at school can help you
find the best option.
If you are leaving your school, your local careers service or
Connexions PA can help you find a new place to learn or train.
While you are thinking about what you want to do in the future,
you may find it useful to look at Skill’s Thinkpad and information
booklet Making choices about leaving school or, if you live in
Scotland, Scotland: opportunities at 16.
Your school might offer ‘link courses’. These courses are based
at school, but you go to a local further education (FE) college for
part of your studies to help you get ready for going to college full
Further education colleges
You may find your local FE college offers a wider range of
courses than your school. Colleges often offer courses such as:
? entry-level courses (for example, access levels 1 to 3)
? academic courses (GCSEs, A and AS levels, Scottish
? work-based courses (vocational GCSEs, AVCEs, NVQs and
? general courses to prepare you for adult life (for example,
Life Skills). These courses may not always lead to a
qualification, but can be useful for people with learning
difficulties who need support to become more independent.
You can study full-time or part-time, or you may be able to take
some courses as evening classes.
It is important to find a course that interests you, but it is just as important to choose a college that can offer you the extra support
you need because of your impairment or learning difficulty. The
Disability Discrimination Act says that training and course
providers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure a
disabled person can access education. Read more about support
on page 12.
If a local school or college cannot meet your support needs, you
may want to think about going to a specialist college. They have
more experience of teaching students with a range of
impairments. These colleges are all around the United Kingdom
(apart from Scotland) and people can apply from anywhere in the
country, so you may have to travel to get there. Many of these
colleges are residential and can help you learn to live away from
home. They offer a range of education options.
You can find information on specialist residential colleges in the
COPE Directory: Compendium of post-16 education and
training in residential establishments for young people with special needs, go to the Useful publications section for details.
Your local careers or Connexions Service will have a copy, and they can help you find the best option. You may also find this directory in your local library.
The Association of National Specialist Colleges (NATSPEC) can also give you the details of their colleges. You can find their contact details in the Useful Contacts section.
Work-based learning opportunities
Work-based learning helps you to learn flexibly in a vocational environment. In England and Wales it is organised by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and in Scotland, most work-based learning programmes are organised by Scottish Enterprise. You can start work-based learning at 16 -18 years old once you have left school. There are different schemes:
Entry to Employment (e2e) provides work-based learning below
NVQ level 2 for young people who are not yet ready for an apprenticeship. e2e replaces NVQ level 1 for people aged 16-18 years, and employment preparation schemes such as life skills training. It is also available to people aged 19-24, who are not eligible for New Deal and have gained agreement from the LSC.
An employer may pay you while you are training. If you are not being paid a wage, you are entitled to a ?40 per week training allowance and may be able to claim other benefits. If you are on e2e you can apply for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Apprenticeships provide training at a higher level within an
industry to school-leavers aged 16-24 years. There are two levels:
Apprenticeships provide young people training up to NVQ Level
2 (roughly equivalent to 5 GCSEs at grades A-C).
Advanced Apprenticeships provide training towards at least
NVQ Level 3 (equivalent to two A levels). The qualification may include a technical certificate and requires a young person to get some experience supervising other people.
Apprenticeships are usually paid placements and some extra money may be available for transport and childcare.
For more information on either scheme, contact the Personal Adviser at your local Connexions Service or Learning and Skills Council. You could also contact your local Jobcentre Plus for information on similar training programmes they run for adults.
Training for Work
Training for Work provides training support for adults who have been unemployed for at least 6 months and are actively looking for work. The programme gives you the opportunity to go on placements and access formal training in a wide variety of skills and occupations. As a trainee, you will be paid a training allowance which will be the same as your weekly benefits plus ?10 a week.
This is a training programme for school leavers and young people which allows you to receive training from your employer, or a training company if you are not in work. It also gives you the opportunity to work towards a recognised work-related qualification, such as an SVQ. All trainees receive a weekly wage or training allowance.
Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment, combined with the opportunity to train for jobs in industrial or commercial occupations. Apprentices are able to gain skills and qualifications (SVQ level 3 or above) that will help to start a new career in a variety of occupations. All apprentices will receive a wage from their employer.
You can find out about these schemes from your local Careers Scotland centre, or see Skill’s booklet Further education and
training in Scotland: guidance for disabled people.
The useful contacts section of this booklet gives details for Apprenticeships information in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Paid time off for study or training
If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you may be able to get some paid time off from work to study if you are:
? 16 or 17
? in employment
? not yet qualified to level 2.
The types of qualifications you could study for include GCSEs, vocational GCSEs, NVQs, intermediate GNVQs and BTECs. The study or training could be done at a local college, by distance learning or in the workplace. Contact your local careers or Connexions Service for further information.
Open or distance learning
If you do not want to attend a course at a set time or place, you could study at home or at work instead. This is called open learning and courses vary in the way they are set up and how you study. For some courses you will be sent a list of books and worksheets to work through, or you might use additional study methods like the internet, videos, computer software or watching TV programmes.