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Hidden and misunderstood? Experiences of disability support for learners in post-16 education.

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Presentation on theme: "Hidden and misunderstood? Experiences of disability support for learners in post-16 education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hidden and misunderstood? Experiences of disability support for learners in post-16 education

2 Julie Osborn Disability Support Manager Teaching Fellow Award Holder 2007-08

3 Background to research Research within FE Sector HELP Cetl University of Plymouth Future actiona

4 Aim of Research Investigate the impact that having disability support needs has on making choices, retention and achievement in HE Identify barriers that need to be removed and develop services to that they are inclusive to disabled people

5 Methodology Variety of methods used Focus group Individual, semi-structured interviews Follow up via email, text Visual representation Interviews with staff

6 Stated Aims Consider IAG that disabled learners received Impact of having additional support needs had on making choices Impact of assessment procedures Procedures in place to assist with transition to HE Factors that promote successful retention and achievement for disabled learners

7 Participants - population Purposive sample All students on HE Courses sent letters – No response! Learners inc HE in FE and students at the transition phase Staff asked to invite students who were accessing support

8 Participants - sample 6 females and 4 males Aged 19 to 38 2 learners had degrees Range of impairments inc Deaf BSL, visual impairment, physical, mental health issues, Described support needs Sample of people who use support services Limited, bias

9 Methodology Learners perspective sought 1:1 interviews with research assistant, recorded and transcribed, inc pictorial representation Follow up emails Focus group - recorded

10 Methodology Approved final copy Returned for checking and approval Learner comments transcribed Grounded methodology

11 Analysis of data Transcripts (interviews) Voice recordings (Focus Group) Identified key themes from the data Ensure we captured the learner perspective by checking back Inductive process

12 Findings Participants described how they found out about support Key person described as helpful I came into college before my course and that really helped. If a disabled student can come in and speak to a DSC [they can] then find out what they need… when you fill out the forms you dont always know what support you could have

13 Findings Participants described how they found out about support Name of service Didnt want to access a service for disabled people Didnt want to be labelled or stigmatised Learners had support needs and received service but did not identify with the term disabled

14 Findings Impact of having additional support needs on choice of institution Choice of institution was mainly the same as for non-disabled people Support considered after choice of institution

15 Findings Assessment of Support Needs Disabled Students Allowance – time consuming and challenging Assessment of support needs was positive for most particiapnts

16 Findings Assessment of Support Needs Forms proved challenging And stating what your needs are …at a time youre unwell, you dont know what your needs are, what your capabilities are etc … each day is different (good or bad). You dont want to be spending hours filling out forms because the mental process of doing it is exhausting. (Learner with ME)

17 Findings DSA – equipment Challenging to learn to use Often software on laptops that was not being used Frequently, learners left along to sort this out.

18 Findings Receiving support Theres a fine line between what you do and how much you get from other people. (Learner with dyslexia) Learners wanted to fit in, some were reluctant to acknowledge that they needed additional support,

19 Findings Receiving support I dont ask for an extension [on assignment deadlines] because I want to be normal. I dont deserve anything … you hear people joking.. And I think maybe I shouldnt get that [support]. Theres other people who should be having that.. I feel bad about it … for getting support.. People go wow you got a laptop, Im gonna be dyslexic then Im gonna get a laptop. Reluctance to ask for support is a key theme

20 Findings Expectation of Support Learners had different expectation of what support is compared to tutors Often a lack of co-ordination between support staff and tutors

21 Video Excerpt from video

22 Practical Applications Developed marketing and publicity Disability support needs to be promoted as an entitlement Provision needs to be independently monitored Expectations need to be clarified Transition procedures

23 Practical outcomes Develop Marketing and Publicity Promote Disability Support as an Entitlement Co-ordination and Monitoring Clarify Expectations Transition Procedures Interlinked

24 Develop Marketing and Publicity Publicise whats on offer Need to target potential beneficiaries of the service Describe support on offer rather than try to identify disabled people

25 Promote Disability Support as an Entitlement Participants described how they needed to make a case and justify reasons for support Need to develop a culture that support is an entitlement Staff need information

26 Co-ordination and Monitoring Reviews would enable problems to be identified Equipment not being used Lecturers not adjusting delivery Discrimination

27 Clarify Expectations Learners, tutors and support staff had differing ideas about support. Led to frustration and even complaints Need to clarify the support is available

28 Implementing Findings Practical outcomes CoBC appointed a person to assist dyslexic learners apply for DSA Created a video to publicise support Co-ordinated support Attended induction events and described support rather than the service name

29 Workshops Explore some of the themes in further detail Disabled – what do we mean and who are we including? Labelling and self identification Practical solutions in place at your institution

30 Concluding comments Experience of students not always positive Changes that were requested by individuals were reasonable and could be accommodated by services We do not know about hidden students who may have left or struggled without every being identified Disabled learners often described being misunderstood

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