Successful transition to further education for pupils with additional learning needs

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Ysgol y Gogarth was instrumental in setting up a multi-disciplinary group whose aim is to improve the transition of pupils with additional learning needs between school and further education.

Number of learners: 223
Age range: 3-19
Date of inspection: October 2017

Information about the school

Ysgol y Gogarth is a day and residential special school situated in Llandudno.  It is the only special school maintained by Conwy local authority.  Currently there are 223 pupils on roll aged from 3 to 19.  All pupils have a statement of special educational needs for moderate and severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties or autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).  The school manages a residential provision and provides a base for a number of other key support services.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

Initially in response to the 14-19 Vocational Pathways initative, the school reviewed its curriculum to improve the range of practical learning experiences available to pupils.  This included the development of school-based vocational provision as well as work in collaboration with the local further education college to design bespoke courses where appropriate.  The school’s effective partnership with the Conwy 14-19 network has helped to ensure that pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) are included in the development of a strategic vision across the county with a clear focus on individual pupils’ needs to support their transition to the college.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

Following the development of a more vocational curriculum at the school, the school reviewed the effectiveness of pupils’ transition to college.  At this point, it became apparent that due to the increased range of learning experiences available to pupils, the profile of their skills, knowledge and ambition had changed. Crucially, college courses available to a specific group of ALN pupils no longer seemed to offer appropriate progression.

In March 2014, Ysgol y Gogarth was instrumental in setting up the Conwy and Denbighshire Transition of ALN Learners to FE Group.  This was a multi-disciplinary group supported by the Conwy 14-19 network, whose aim was to improve the transition of pupils between the school and further education college. 

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

The Transition of ALN Learners to FE Group has provided a valuable forum for professionals from colleges, schools, social services, Careers Wales and the other relevant agencies to identify barriers to successful transition and implement ways to improve this.  This has resulted in improved communication, information sharing and greater collaboration between all parties.  Over time, this has helped to achieve a closer match between the needs of pupils and the range of courses offered at the local further education college.  For example, the college developed a new course designed specifically to meet the needs of pupils at the school who were more able and which offered pupils subsequently greater opportunities for progression onto mainstream courses at the college. 

The group is currently extending this collaborative approach to widen the range of courses and qualifications available to pupils at key stage 4.

How have you shared your good practice?

The Transition of ALN Learners to FE Group continues to meet regularly and year-on-year local provision has been reviewed at the school, local colleges and the local 14-19 network board.  The group has shared its findings with Careers Wales and the local social services department.  Staff from the school have shared the outcomes of the approach with further education providers and have produced case studies for use by Careers Wales.