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Learning Disability

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that adult learners with learning (a) difficulties and (b) disabilities are given support to participate in education; and if he will make a statement. (322738)

This Department routes funding through the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) for the provision of further education (FE) and skills training for adult learners aged 19 and over. This includes funding for learners with difficulties and/or disabilities (LLDD).

Funding for these learners remains a priority and we remain committed to maintaining future opportunities for them.

Additional learning support (ALS) funding is provided to FE colleges and training organisations to support the additional costs associated with learners with LDD to help them to undertake mainstream provision.

There is a broad range of provision available to support learners with LDD, for example the Foundation Learning Curriculum supports improved achievement and progression towards employment and independent living below level 2. However it is for FE colleges and training organisations to determine their offer to these learners in line with their level of need.

Currently, learners aged 19 to 25 entitled to a learning difficulty assessment (LDD) (S139A) are covered by a statutory duty placed on the Learning Skills Council. From 1 April 2010 responsibility will transfer to local authorities (LAs) following changes announced in the Learning Skills Act 2008 and the Apprenticeship, Schools, Children and Learning Act 2009. Such learners will continue to be funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) through the arrangements with the Young Persons Learning Agency and LAs. This will support the policy that there should be a single body with responsibility for all young adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LLDD) up to the age of 25 who require significant levels of support.

It is not possible to separately identify learners in receipt of S139A assessments. However we are able to estimate that there have been around 200,000 learners aged 19 and over in mainstream provision with a self declared disability each year from 2006/07 to 2008/09 academic year (the latest whole year for which data are available).