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Flexible Funding Routes in Further Education

Author: Pippa Murray

A Note on Additional Learning Support for young people with profound & multiple learning disabilities

All young people are entitled to Further Education (FE). The problem has been that eligibility to FE courses is dependent on all young people having to show developmental progression in limited ways. This prevents young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities being able to access Further Education. However, there are ways around this problem.

The present Foundation Learning Model includes programmes of learning containing:

  • Personal and Social Development
  • Vocational & Subject Skills
  • Functional Skills at Pre-Entry Level, Entry Level & Level 1

A bespoke programme enabling students to achieve and progress according to their abilities, needs and aspirations should be put together when young people leave school. This would allow all young people to access FE.

This information sheet outlines the steps needed to secure the Additional Learning Support Funding that would enable this to happen.

1. Funding arrangements

Funding is available for young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and/or complex needs to carry on learning when they leave school. Although this funding is presently co-ordinated by the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA), the Local Authority has the lead role as they have the statutory responsibility for learning places for young people with learning disabilities. This means both the YPLA and the Local Authority need to be involved.

The relevant budget is known as Additional Learning Support and can be made available to young people whose complex learning needs cannot easily be met through local FE colleges or Independent Service Providers.

The funding cannot go straight to the individual learner, but has to go through a learning provider (school, college, independent service provider etc). This does not mean the student has to attend ready-made courses. Rather, the provider taking responsibility for the additional funding will oversee an individually designed programme of learning that takes place in appropriate settings.

Additional Learning Support covers funding for learning, and support for learning. Personal care needs are presently understood to be outside of a learning experience and so it is likely that additional money from social care or health will be needed to make a learning package possible. Families should contact their local social services to find out the arrangements for assessments for a Personal Budget through social care and/or health at the same time as trying to secure funding for learning.

2. Section 139a Assessment

Young people eligible for learning post 19 (or 16 -18) need to complete a Section 139a Assessment to identify the best route for their future learning. This is usually co-ordinated by a Connexions PA and should include schools.

The completed Section 139a Assessment Form should include information about:

  1. How the school is presently meeting the student’s learning needs (e.g. sensory curriculum)
  2. Details of the student’s learning style, and the support they need to learn
  3. Outline of a plan to meet future learning needs, & identification of a local learning provider. 

[If there is not a local learning provider to meet identified learning needs, a plan should be put together for an existing provider to manage the budget and release it as required by the learner. This could be a school, FE college or Independent Service Provider.]

It is the responsibility of Local Authorities to communicate with parents and learners about what is and what is not available. Any questions about decision making on 139a Assessments, appropriate courses, Independent Service Provider placements etc is the responsibility of the Local Authority and in the case of FE, the college sector.

There is much more information available about personalised education and transition on this website - follow the links on the right-hand side of the page.


The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.

Flexible Funding Routes in Further Education © Pippa Murray 2011.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.