Special school pupils denied access to support available in the mainstream

    Some special schools are hindering disabled young people’s
    access to targeted Connexions support as they see it as their role
    to help them through problems, according to new research,
    writes Amy Taylor.

    The study, by the Foundation for People with Learning
    Disabilities, found that many disabled young people attending
    special schools did not have access to targeted Connexions support
    available to non-disabled young people in mainstream education.

    Targeted Connexions support provides a personal advisor working
    intensively and regularly with a young person with problems.

    Nic Rowland-Crosby, one of the report’s authors, said that
    the there were great benefits for disabled young people to have
    access to targeted independent support from Connexions such as
    being able to talk about support services that are outside
    school.

    He added that access to targeted support for disabled young
    people was also restricted by a lack of resources in Connexions,
    with personal advisors working in special schools tending to have
    large caseloads.

    The report states that there is a failure by some schools or
    connexions partnerships to adequately recognise that young disabled
    people have the same sorts of problems as non-disabled young people
    and need the same range of support.

    The two and a half year project covered five areas across
    England and involved consultations with 120 young disabled people,
    including those with learning difficulties and mental health
    problems.

    The Children Bill proposes devolving the budgets currently held
    by Connexions services to local authority led children’s
    services. The study warns that personal advisors in any future
    structure will still need to have the freedom to challenge their
    own organisations when a young person is unhappy with the services
    being provided.

    It concludes that Connexions has great potential to support
    young disabled people well and that whatever happens in
    children’s services it needs to be given the time and support
    to realise this.

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