Disability Discrimination Act and Work-based Learning:
Project Manager’s Final Report
Dr Chris Hewitson
Tables ................................................................................................................... 4
Acknowledgements ............................................................................................... 5
Executive summary............................................................................................... 6
Rationale ........................................................................................................... 6
Design and methodology ................................................................................... 6
The initial seminars ........................................................................................... 6
The case studies ............................................................................................... 7
Common themes and some solutions ............................................................... 8
Introduction ........................................................................................................... 9
Background ....................................................................................................... 9
Going forward .................................................................................................. 10
Intended benefits of the project ....................................................................... 11
Project methodology........................................................................................ 11
Project management ....................................................................................... 12
Fieldwork ......................................................................................................... 12
1. At the start: what Providers told us about the capacity in the WBL sector with
regard to the DDA ............................................................................................... 14
Introduction ..................................................................................................... 14
Implementation of the DDA ............................................................................. 14
Range of disabilities, range of learners ........................................................ 14
The framework for delivering WBL............................................................... 15
Working with employers ............................................................................... 15
Staff training................................................................................................. 16
Supporting learners ..................................................................................... 16
Equality and diversity ................................................................................... 18
Working with partners .................................................................................. 18
2. Case study projects ........................................................................................ 19
Selection of case study research sites ............................................................ 19
Synopsis of the research projects ................................................................... 20
2.1. Acorn Initiative, North Nottinghamshire................................................. 20
2.2. Breakaway Supported Employment, Worthing, West Sussex............... 21
2.3. Carousel, Brighton, East Sussex .......................................................... 24
2.4. Dr B’s Café and Training Restaurant, Harrogate, North Yorkshire ....... 26
2.5. KM Training, Derby ............................................................................... 30
2.6. Landmark Training, Stratford, East London .......................................... 31
2.7. Manchester Enterprises (Skills Solution and Employment Regeneration
Partnership) ................................................................................................. 33
2.8. Michael John, Liverpool ........................................................................ 41
2.9. North Downham Training, Lewisham .................................................... 45
2.10. Nottinghamshire Training Network (NTN), Mansfield .......................... 49
2.11. Rewards TRC, Haywards Heath, West Sussex .................................. 55
2.12. Rocket Training, Liverpool .................................................................. 60
2.13. Shaw Trust, Harrow on the Hill ........................................................... 61
2.14. Southwark Springboard Trust ............................................................. 63
2.15. Stubbing Court Training, Chesterfield, Derbyshire .............................. 64
2.16. Other projects ..................................................................................... 70
3. Lessons learned: perspectives within WBL ..................................................... 71
Introduction ..................................................................................................... 71
Research themes ............................................................................................ 71
Barriers to access............................................................................................ 72
Structural barriers ........................................................................................ 72
Attitudinal barriers ........................................................................................ 72
Physical barriers .......................................................................................... 74
Initial and ongoing assessment ....................................................................... 74
Listening to learners ........................................................................................ 75
Policies ............................................................................................................ 77
Reasonable adjustments ................................................................................. 78
Resources ....................................................................................................... 78
Working with employers .................................................................................. 79
Embedding, recommendations and future developments ............................... 80
Table 2.1 Key milestones for Manchester Enterprises ........................................ 37
Table 2.2 Aims and outcomes of the NTN project .............................................. 50
Table 2.3 NTN action plan .................................................................................. 51
Table 2.4 NTN survey response rates ................................................................ 52
Table 2.5 Planned and final outcomes of the NTN project .................................. 54
I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to the Improving work-
based learning for people with disabilities and/or learning difficulties project, in
particular the case study site leaders; their names are listed with their final
reports, which are also published on the LSN website. The success of this project
rests firmly on their contributions to it.
Thanks are also due to Gordon Dryden, Paul Busby and Michael Gray, who
provided consultancy support to the case study research projects, and to Dr Liz
Maudslay for her enthusiastic support for the project and for assistance with
writing the final report and its executive summary.
I should also like to thank colleagues at the LSN for providing management and
administrative support to the project, ensuring completion of this report and
contributing to the success of the project’s meetings, seminars and workshops.
Dr Chris Hewitson
Learning and Skills Network
This report describes the processes, findings and outcomes of a project carried
out by the LSN and funded by the LSC between April 2005 and March 2006. The
overall aim of the project was to promote better access and improved quality of
provision for people with a disability or learning difficulty in work-based learning
Although work-based learning providers have had duties under Part 3 of the
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) since 1996, there was no dedicated
programme of support to help them understand and fulfil these duties. When
education came under Part 4 of the DDA in 2002, work-based learning providers
were initially excluded from the programme of support provided for colleges and
adult education organisations. When, as a result of strong demand, they were
included in later phases of this support, it became apparent that the issues facing
work-based learning providers were different in certain significant ways from
those facing education providers. It therefore became clear that a systematic
programme of support specifically addressing disabled learners’ access to work-
based learning was required.
Design and methodology
The project focused on four main activities:
formative seminars held in London and Manchester to establish a baseline
for the work and define key issues facing the sector
in-depth case study research carried out by 19 work based-learning
the production of a DVD (Proper Hard Work – see the publications section
of the LSN website)
a series of dissemination events.
This report describes the findings of activities 1 and 2 – the initial seminars and
the case studies.
The initial seminars
The initial seminars clearly revealed both the enthusiasm and dedication of work-
based learning participants, but also their frustration over the many barriers
which prevented them from including and supporting the full range of disabled
learners. They recognised that currently, while many of their learners had some
kinds of disability or learning difficulty, in particular dyslexia and mental health
difficulties, instances of learners with physical or sensory disabilities were far
Barriers they faced in terms of including and supporting disabled learners
structural barriers – in particular the pressure to ensure that all learners
achieved a Level 2 qualification – which could prevent access by learners
for whom this might be difficult or take more time
practical difficulties in providing appropriate support, including, but not
exclusively, difficulty in resourcing support
lack of employer support and awareness
lack of essential staff training in inclusive learning.
The case studies
The 19 providers which took part in the case study exercise covered a very wide
range of organisations. Some were more general training providers that already
included some, but not that many, learners with learning difficulties or disabilities
in their programmes. Others were less conventional providers – for example an
organisation which trained young people with learning difficulties in film making
and a restaurant run by disabled staff.
Organisations were asked to focus their study on one specific area – either
choosing an area new to them or a topic they had already done some work on
but wished to develop. They were each allocated four days’ time from an adviser,
who would work with them as a ‘critical friend’.
Topics varied enormously, but the overall results were fascinating and included a
range of creative approaches. Some providers concentrated on the marketing
and recruitment area – one making a promotional DVD and another a fact sheet
for prospective disabled learners and also for employers. Another looked at
issues around disclosure of disability and initial assessment. Some looked at
more general issues – carrying out an access audit, gaining and promoting a
greater understanding of equal opportunities, researching and disseminating
good practice in working with disabled learners or forging better links with
employers. Others chose very specific topics. For example, one provider used its
time to support work it was already planning on running a learning difficulty film
festival, another did an in-depth study of dyslexia and how best to support
dyslexic learners, another specifically listened to the concerns of deaf learners
and yet another studied the extent to which financial incentives such as the
Educational Maintenance Allowance actually made a difference to learners with
disabilities or learning difficulties.
In the report, each case study is written up in a similar format, which includes the
aims of the project, how it worked, the difficulties encountered, what worked well
and advice for others. These individual reports give valuable insights both into
the difficulties facing the sector but also into the creative solutions which can be
achieved in terms of widening access and support for disabled learners in work-
Common themes and some solutions
Individual as each project was, certain key, common themes emerged. Case
studies recognised the importance of placing far more emphasis on initial and
ongoing assessment. They analysed in some depth the various barriers which
restricted access for disabled people and distinguished between physical,
resource, structural and attitudinal barriers. They recognised the need for far
more clarity as to their legal duties, particularly their duty to provide reasonable
adjustments for disabled learners. They also saw the need for more attention to
be paid to policies which worked across the whole organisation. In addition to
this, they recognised above all the importance of listening far more closely to
disabled learners and learning from their expertise.
These issues are large ones and, as the project recognised in its
recommendations to the LSC, many of them require external support. However,
within the individual case studies are many small but extremely pertinent
examples of changes which providers have made which have resulted in
enhancing both the access to and the quality of their provision for learners with
disabilities and learning difficulties.
This report provides an account of the project Improving work-based learning
provision for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, conducted
between April 2005 and March 2006, which was funded by the Learning and
Skills Council (LSC).
The overall aim of this assignment has been to increase access and promote
improved quality in meeting the needs of people with a disability and/or learning
difficulty in the work-based learning (WBL) sector. Agreed objectives were to:
explore the implications of including disabled people in the work-based
identify the requirements for support for training Provider staff to meet
peoples’ needs effectively
create a package of support specifically designed for these staff and
contextualised within the WBL sector
work directly with training Providers in a range of different contexts and
across the occupational sectors
develop a strategy for dissemination of outputs in a series of targeted
events and develop a model for ongoing dissemination.
In two earlier phases of Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) projects it had
become apparent that the work-based learning sector is in a very different
position from the further education (FE) and adult community learning (ACL)
sectors in terms of responding to the requirements of the Act. FE and ACL
Providers have had access to resources and a substantial national programme of
support to assist them to meet the requirements of the DDA Part 4 until 2003/04.
However, WBL Providers were excluded from much of this support because Part
4 of the DDA did not apply to them. This has led to some resentment.
From previous DDA projects, The LSDA found compelling evidence that the
work-based learning sector (both training Providers and, in particular, employer-
based learning) requires a systematic, dedicated programme of support to
enable it to respond effectively to the requirements of people with learning
difficulties and/or disabilities. It was clear that messages from education
Providers, although applicable at the level of principle, do not transfer directly to
the particular contexts of WBL, particularly employer-based learning. Thus, the
stark comparison between the needs of WBL and education Providers has been
increasingly evident, along with the lack of basic information, access to resources
for support and lack of specialist support. Earlier soundings highlighted that an
additional issue for WBL Providers is the lack of access to resources for capital
Scoping research conducted by the Learning and Skills Development Agency
(LSDA) in 2004, sought to identify the capability of the learning and skills sector
to respond to the requirements of the DDA. This research revealed large gaps in
awareness of the Act, in understanding what the Act means in practice, in
confidence to meet the requirements and in training and support to do so. The
research also identified the employer base as one of the biggest challenges.
While some employers supported the business case for employing disabled
people and had excellent schemes in place, the majority did not. Consequently,
only half of disabled people were in work compared with four-fifths of non-
disabled people, and 1.2 million disabled people without a job wanted work
(statistics provided by the Disability Rights Commission, December 2004).
The interface between the responsibilities of different agencies, for example, the
Learning and Skills Council, the Department for Work and Pensions and Job
Centre Plus in relation to adults with learning difficulties, is blurred. We have
been told by Providers and college staff of their fears that many people with
learning difficulties and disabilities have been steered away from WBL provision
by their advisers, even when it is the most appropriate provision for them.
Disabled people do not have the choices that are available to non-disabled
people. Individual Learner Records (ILR) for 2003/04 and 2004/05 suggest that
nationally most disabled learners in WBL have moderate learning difficulties,
dyslexia, emotional and behavioural difficulties or other medical conditions such
as epilepsy, asthma or diabetes. Very few have physical or sensory impairments
or severe learning difficulties. From the outset, the project described in this report
recognised some of the significant differences for work-based learning Providers
and its main task has been to provide support for them.
Proceeding from these initial findings, we sought to work with a broad range of
WBL Providers, from the specialist training Providers who work only with
disabled people to occupational sector-specific training Providers and employer
Providers. We wished to cover all frameworks: apprenticeships and Entry to
Employment (E2E) and the full range of disabilities and learning difficulties. From
our analysis of findings before beginning the project, we had identified that we
achieve an understanding about how DDA legislation affects both training
Providers and employers
identify the implications for training Providers’ policies, procedures and
explore how best to make reasonable adjustments to support people with
the full range of learning difficulties and disabilities (including people with
mental health difficulties and challenging behaviour) in an employment
context, including how best to enable them to progress within
employment. Trainees’ experiences would be central to this process
identify how training Providers could seek specialist support from external
agencies, when they might need to do so and where they might go to gain
understand the difficulties for Providers in balancing the requirements of
health and safety legislation with inclusion and in using risk assessment
as a procedure to include and not exclude disabled people
examine how training Providers can best work with employers to ensure
continuity of support for disabled people.
Intended benefits of the project
The project has produced a range of written and multimedia materials through
which Providers across the work-based learning sector will have a greater
understanding both of the DDA legislation which pertains to them and, more
importantly, of how to use the legislation as a lever for improving access and
support for the full range of disabled people. In addition, during the lifetime of the
project, WBL Providers have had access to support to help them address some
of the issues that emerge when responding to the requirements of disabled
people. All these things together have been designed to improve access to the
work-based route for many people with learning difficulties and disabilities for
whom it has not previously been considered an option.
The project method was based on four interconnected research activities.
Formative seminars were held in London and Manchester (May and June
2005). Through these events we wished to establish a ‘ground-floor’ body
of ‘insider’ knowledge, information, advice and insight that would assist
project development and contribute to project findings. We also
recognised the importance of these events for establishing the project
across WBL and associated fields.
Case study research was undertaken at 19 WBL sites (August 2005 to
February 2006). The previous DDA projects had used action research,
which is a powerful mechanism for promoting improvement and bringing
about change. However, we recognised that the capacity of WBL
Providers to work in this way was limited for a number of reasons,
particularly available time. To ensure that we achieved the outcomes of
the project within the time available, we adopted a case study approach.
A DVD of interviews with learners talking about their experiences was
made (September 2005 to March 2006). Feedback from the first phase of
DDA projects (2003 – 2005), through which we developed the DVD
Learners’ Experiences, told us that listening to learners is a powerful staff
training tool. We wished to repeat this experience for the WBL sector. As
well as learners talking about their work and the reasonable adjustments
their Providers have organised for them, we also included a short film of
WBL staff talking about the importance of reasonable adjustments and the
positive outcomes they generate for the learner, for the Provider and for
Project outputs and findings are to be disseminated (March 2006). This
project report and other materials from each of the case study projects will
be posted on the LSN website.1 The DVD is accompanied by a CD-ROM
containing facilitators’ notes, a list of useful organisations, websites and
useful materials recommended by WBL staff, and three LSDA Briefings for
staff and managers in WBL.
There has been a continuous process of examination of the data as it has
emerged throughout the project. Overseeing of data has been conducted
visits by project consultants to case study research sites
preparation of initial action plans in conjunction with consultants
feedback seminar for all research sites
writing an interim report with feedback from consultants
telephone and e-mail support for project sites
support for preparation of each project’s final report.
The project has been managed by a consortium led by the LSDA, including Skill
and NIACE and working with the support of the Disability Rights Council (DRC).
Research and development has been carried out in partnership with
organisations from work-based learning, workplace learning, work-related
learning and the supported employment sectors.
The project was conducted through direct work with, and support for WBL
Providers through a case study approach. It was designed to be responsive to
need, so the outline identified below is intended to be indicative. Project sites
were provided with support from an overall project manager and assigned
consultant advisers to act as critical friends. The role of these critical friends has
been to increase the prospects of successful completion and to ensure that the
case studies generated the outputs required.
1. At the start: what Providers told us about the capacity in the
WBL sector with regard to the DDA
At the two formative seminars described in the Introduction, we set out to explore
with WBL Providers from a range of contexts what the legislation means for their
practice and how they can respond to meet the challenges.
Implementation of the DDA
Range of disabilities, range of learners
Across the sector, Providers say they are working with learners who have a
range of disabilities, including learning difficulties, unseen disabilities, long-term
health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health difficulties and physical
disabilities. However, as the ILR data show, learners with moderate learning
difficulties, with dyslexia and to a lesser extent, with emotional and behavioural
difficulties, dominate. There is an urgent need to build capacity across the WBL
sector to create opportunities for all young people with learning difficulties and/or
disabilities who match the common entry criteria.
In addition, Providers are also working with learners who have a range of
difficulties arising from social needs. While Providers recognise that many
learners in this category often have additional learning requirements, a number of
Providers told us how the funding methodology confuses their understanding of
learning difficulty. Providers told us that they feel they are being asked to treat
learners who come within the disability and/or learning difficulty remit differently
from those who come under the ‘social difficulties’ heading and yet, so often,
their learning styles or learning difficulties are very similar.
Providers told us of persisting stigma around mental health and of their worry
about those employers whose perceptions of these issues are so negative that
they refuse to work with people who have mental health difficulties.
Providers also reported that they often felt inadequate in managing the learning
of those with challenging behaviour. There were also concerns that a move to
outcome-based funding could result in some Providers ‘cherry picking’, resulting
in those learners whose needs are the most difficult to meet being yet further
Providers told us that promoting the DDA is crucial to them as it provides a legal
basis and a framework for training that reflects their business ethos and helps
them recruit people who are committed to their organisations’ values.
The framework for delivering WBL
Providers told us that the work-based learning framework itself has aspects that
sometimes act as barriers to learning and can thus hinder achievement and
progression. They are concerned that the requirement that young people on
apprenticeships need to attain a level 2 qualification prevents some learners from
participating. Some learners need to achieve at level 1 before they progress to
level 2. Others will only achieve at level 1 but may be perfectly capable of
carrying out the tasks of a particular job. For example, Providers at our seminars
gave us examples of young people who have jobs and have been accepted on to
work-based learning, but for whom ‘going straight in’ to learning for a Level 2
qualification is either too high a step, or is unachievable in the short to medium
term. It is difficult to build in achievable, useable and thus rewarding outcomes
for these learners.
Providers told us that they find it particularly frustrating that the E2E curriculum
option is not available to employed young people so that steps of achievement
can be offered to those who need them and learning momentum can be
maintained. They acknowledged that a learning continuum has been built into the
system of provision, but they told us of their frustration that this is a notional
continuum which is supposed to fit all learners and that it is not designed around
the learning requirements of individuals.
Providers also told us that the increased time-flexibility in the WBL system was
agreed so that learners could meet the Level 2 targets. However, many learners
in WBL needed to achieve at lower levels first and in smaller stages over time.
Working towards Level 2, without intermediate goals and successes, can quickly
demotivate learners. Their lack of success in turn demotivates Providers and
employers, who feel that their efforts with learners are not successful.
Working with employers
The Providers we consulted told us of employers’ inconsistent awareness of
disability issues. They told us that this is a particular issue in small and medium-
sized employers (SMEs) who make up the largest numbers of employers they
work with. While large, national and international companies usually have
diversity, employment and training policies in place, Providers recognised that
this is not so easy for SMEs, although they too now come within the remit of the
Providers told us of the difficulties they have experienced with many employers
and a common plea has been for employers to be engaged with the present
project in some way. While this has not been within the strategic scope of the
project, one of the case study projects (Rewards TRC, Haywards Heath) has
sought to focus on employers and make the business case for employing and
training disabled people in a valiant effort to engage them with the DDA and
work-based learning agenda. The outcome is described in the Case Study
Projects section below.
Providers we consulted told us that staff training is a difficult area for them.
Difficulties included the fact that there is so much to do that people do not know
where to start; that it is not always possible to convince individual staff members
or managers that DDA training is necessary; one Provider told us they didn’t
have anyone in-house who had staff training skills; several Providers told us that
where training needs were shared with other agencies there was no mechanism
for cross-agency training.
We learned from Providers across the country that as a sector they have
identified the following capacity-building needs:
There needs to be a greater investment in the professional development
of WBL Provider teachers.
The sector needs to develop a better understanding of teaching and
learning. Theories of andragogy (theory of adult learning) and pedagogy
(theory of teaching) need to embrace work-based learning fully.
There is an urgent need for information, some of which in other branches
of the learning and skills sector might be considered quite basic. This
ranges from needing to know about available resources and any
professional support available locally (eg deaf support teams, dyslexia
assessment), to understanding how to put together a learning support
programme based on specialist appraisal of a learner’s requirements.
Providers told us that their staff frequently have to do a lot of ‘digging’ in
order to find out things which they need to know. Staff often do this in
isolation and feel a strong need for professional support as they don’t
always know whether the routes they are taking with learners are the
DDA training and disability awareness raising are required for both training
Providers and employers. Providers told us that the current lack of
capacity in the training and employment sectors is used as an excuse for
not engaging someone with a disability.
The sector needs to recognise its own role models, ie people who run
businesses and who are leaders in areas of good practice so that it may
draw on their experience and expertise.
Providers told us very clearly that they want to provide the best for young people
with disabilities and/or learning difficulties. They also told us of the structural
barriers they face such as the design of programmes and the resources available
for learner support. Examples of these difficulties include where support ‘takes
weeks’ to sort out (and it can take even longer: an example on the DVD made
during this project cites support for a deaf learner taking ‘months to sort out’).
This is a serious problem, particularly as, in most circumstances, putting support
strategies in place needs to take place very rapidly if learners are not going to
become both demoralised and frustrated. Several Providers told us that ‘hours,
even minutes can make a difference and prevent a learner from walking out’.
Providers emphasised the fact that ‘quite often’ the support required is for them
(eg mentoring) so that they can make better provision for a learner who is having
Ensuring that learners’ experiences in WBL match their ways of learning, their
learning goals, their personal development and their career aspirations requires a
great deal of skill from Providers. They need to ensure that initial and ongoing
assessments, teaching methods, learning outcomes, progress monitoring, and all
other procedures match learners’ requirements. In order to do this, Providers
need to develop structures in which learners are comfortable for their disability
and/or learning difficulty to be taken into account, when appropriate, in individual
planning along with other attributes and experiences. Providers require training to
do this effectively.
Providers told us of difficulties they can experience when communicating with
learners. For example some Providers told us about the dilemmas they
experience in assisting learners plan for their future careers. On the one hand
Providers understand that learners need to have better insight into where they
‘sit’ in the market for jobs so that they can plan the next steps of their career
pathways. On the other hand, many Providers told us that too much realism can
be daunting and put learners off.
A significant number of Providers told us of the worrying number of learners who
withdraw from learning and how ‘listening’ is a crucial aspect of learner support
that needs recognition. Providers talked to us about the training in listening skills
they require and of the training they need so that they can follow up on what they
learn by listening.
In discussion, Providers raised a list of broad concerns around learning support
issues. Funding for additional learning support was considered problematic,
particularly in view of the capital cost of making reasonable adjustments to
premises. The high price of some specialist equipment and the cost of additional
staffing were also cited as causing difficulties. Differences were cited between
the ability of large Providers to develop support services for learners and the
difficulties small Providers had in doing this. Some small Providers are looking at
ways in which they might pool resources but difficulties around providing support
within on-the-job elements of learning remain. Partnership with colleges is one
mechanism used by some Providers for obtaining additional learning support, eg
for dyslexia. But Providers told us that the sector as a whole needs access to a
much broader range of specialist support if it is going to provide a high quality
WBL experience for the young people with whom it works.
Mentoring, working in small groups and personal tutor systems work very well for
young people with disabilities and those with additional support needs where
funding is available.
For a significant number of Providers, while they may obtain screening to identify
a learner with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, they then often don’t
know what to do next. This was a commonly repeated theme across a number of
disability areas including psychological and mental health issues. The difficulties
that Providers have in these areas influence learners’ perceptions of Providers
and hinder their willingness to discuss their disabilities in the context of learning
and work. This, in turn, affects the ability of Providers to create what they termed
‘the right environment for good practice’.
Equality and diversity
Providers talked to us about the difficulties they frequently face recruiting
learners from under-represented groups. They expressed particular concern over
the lack of investment in their own marketing skills. These Providers also
acknowledged the ethnic dimensions of disability, mental health and learning
difficulty and again expressed their need for help in addressing these issues.
Although not part of the formative seminars, one issue that arose later, in the
case study projects, was that of knowing what to do when working with learners
whom Providers find hard to support. Providers told us of their feelings of
frustration and isolation in these circumstances and their worries over letting
Working with partners
The Providers we spoke to recognised the importance of partnership working but
were concerned, again, that they didn’t have the resources of time or know-how
to generate the most appropriate partnerships. They told us that too often the
partnerships they generate come about through chance meetings or expediency
as a result of an emergency rather than through thoughtful planning.
Providers told us of their concern that WBL is, in some quarters, seen as a deficit
model of post-16 learning. By this they meant that WBL is often seen as the
place where those who are least able were directed rather than WBL being a
positive choice. This image, understandably, worries Providers as they know that
this negativity affects choices made by young people, their parents, their carers,
other advocates, schools and Connexions staff.
2. Case study projects
Selection of case study research sites
Despite their goodwill and the great willingness among Providers to participate in
the overall project, it proved difficult to recruit sites willing to participate in
research projects. Various reasons were given for this, in particular lack of staff
Our criteria for the case study research sites was that they needed to be
Providers who had an interest in developing their provision to make it more
accessible to learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities; were keen to
have extra time to think through their ideas about making reasonable
adjustments; or wanted to develop their plans for staff training.
Sites were, to a degree, self-selected in that we had contacted about 100
Providers, inviting them to apply to participate. Given the slow take-up, sites were
accepted as participants based on their availability rather than having to undergo
a selection process. In addition, we included four Providers who, although they
were not classified as WBL Providers, did in fact provide training and support into
employment for significant numbers of learners with learning difficulties and/or
disabilities. These included a project that provided supported employment, one
that provided vocational training in film making for people with learning
difficulties, one that provided vocational training for young people with learning
difficulties and emotional and behavioural difficulties, and a training restaurant for
young people with a range of disabilities who would otherwise not have had
access to work-related workplace learning. These Providers had specific
experience and skills and we felt that by inviting them to take part in the
research, we would be bringing their particular expertise within the sphere of
work-based learning provision.
Research sites could either work on a new area of provision or on an aspect of
their practice that they had identified as needing further development. The aim
was that each organisation should gain immediate benefit from participation in
the project. Each site was allocated four days from a consultant acting as critical
friend, helping the project to identify aims, develop an effective action plan, keep
to task and complete the project on time. A ‘half-time’ event was planned for
November 2005 to share progress and issues.
Synopsis of the research projects
2.1. Acorn Initiative, North Nottinghamshire
report by Neil Pledger
Acorn Initiative wanted to produce a DVD to promote the E2E service, describing
the journey of students through the programme. The aim was to demonstrate the
aims and objectives of the Acorn Initiative and show its inclusive approach to
working with disabled people.
What Acorn Initiative planned
A group of nine learners (referred to as students) presently enrolled on the
‘Access All Areas’ project, were given the opportunity to discuss the issues facing
them and reasons for joining the project. Potential progression and learners’
aspirations were also discussed at great length through a number of discussion
forums and planning sessions. The learners took on the task of designing a
promotional tool, specifically a DVD, that could be used to support and inform
other potential users in accessing the service.
The learners devised a questionnaire that was used to identify the areas the DVD
needed to cover, specifically why students join, what they get out of the course,
their aspirations and where they want to progress to.
The second step involved the learners working with their training staff to identify
appropriate activities that would be representative of an E2E programme and that
a learner would have the opportunity to experience. Through peer consultation
the group decided that the DVD should consist of a mix of activities ranging from
the adventurous, ie sailing, to session-based workshops including basic skills, IT,
role play and ‘employability’.
What Acorn Initiative did
To ensure that the appropriate footage was captured, Acorn Sound / Vision
Project was contracted to work with the learners, assisting them in the use of
video and camera equipment. During November 2005 the two groups (learners
and video professionals) worked together to produce the film footage needed to
put the DVD together. Both groups found this very enjoyable and useful in giving
them the opportunity to form working relationships and friendships outside their
usual circle of colleagues and social groups. The activities were a great success,
with learners participating at all levels, from working within a team to complete a
sailing task to demonstrating the type of work they undertake in a basic skills
Some of the students initially found it difficult to accept the camera filming them.
They were afraid of looking silly, but with support from both staff and other
learners they eventually participated. It gave some of the learners the opportunity
to control their own decisions about whether they wanted to participate as well as
using filming as a vehicle for building their confidence and self-esteem.
While discussing what the DVD should contain, learners took the decision to
produce material that could be used widely as a promotional tool demonstrating
the inclusivity of the E2E programme. Learners felt that the DVD would have a
big impact if used to promote E2E across the county.
Learners and the staff team working with them continued to be closely involved
with the making of the DVD during the period when the sound and vision team
were editing the film, commenting on editing and helping agree the format of the
DVD. On its completion, the DVD was given an official premiere at a special
event hosted by the learners.
What Acorn Initiative achieved
This has been a multi-layered project providing learning experiences for all
participants and ensuring that learners’ experiences figure prominently in
promoting E2E across Nottinghamshire.
2.2. Breakaway Supported Employment, Worthing, West Sussex
report by Susan Goodwin
Breakaway is part of Southdown Housing Association and is funded by West
Sussex County Council to provide a supported employment service to adults with
This project set out to look at improving work-based learning for people with
learning difficulties through joint work between supported employment and
further education for adults with learning difficulties. Breakaway and Crawley
College had worked together for about 12 months, but this project offered an
opportunity to increase the level of joint work with a common aim.
Case study project aim
The case study project set out to look at how closer joint working between a
college and a supported employment agency could enhance the chances of
people with a learning disability getting employment when leaving college. Both
organisations were concerned that learners from college should not slip into a
‘black hole’ on leaving.
What was done and how was it done?
Underpinning the strategic objectives of the project, Breakaway Supported
Employment and Crawley College sought to:
improve joint work between Crawley Campus (Central Sussex College of
Further Education) and supported employment (Breakaway) providers in
order to promote transition to work for learners with learning difficulties on
an FE work preparation course
consolidate ASDAN2 course learning through supported learning at the
share methods and tools used by Breakaway Supported Employment for
work-based learning with Crawley College staff.
Activities were set out in the action plan in order to meet the aims and
achievement targets of the project up to 31 January 2006. The following is an
outline of how these were put in place and what was done.
Planned achievements within the case study timeframe
The case study period provided a snapshot of the first term of a programme
lasting one college year. From Crawley College’s point of view the key outcomes
at the end of the year were to achieve the ASDAN FE Award at the appropriate
level and to achieve some form of employment. However, the planned project
targets (September – December 2005) were:
job-coaching tasks in the workplace alongside learners selected to work
with Breakaway Supported Employment
sharing information about classroom and workplace inputs between staff
from both services to improve transfer of learning between the two
better awareness about individuals’ learning needs as they occur in real
situations and improved facility for responsive input through closer staff
laying the ground for improved transition paths from college into
The action plan involved the following.
Set up a learning programme (to include equal opportunities, boundaries,
social skills, health and safety).
Identify learners for the course.
Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network
Identify learners to be supported in work experience positions either by
Breakaway (a minimum of three at any time) or by the College.
Begin to find out about learners’ work choices and skills.
Search for employers suitable for the learners’ work choices.
Monitor, support and teaching of tasks at work experience locations.
Regular feedback between Central Sussex College and Breakaway staff.
What Breakaway Supported Employment found out
It is vital to be aware of what the learners can and cannot do, and the vocational
profile is a useful tool in this. Learning programmes in work and college need to
meet the needs of the individual. The College and Breakaway had a useful
discussion on the merits of the College’s Employee’s Log Book and how much
value there was in learners writing down things about the workplace. This is an
important area of consideration when developing learning programmes.
The demand for evidence of achievement is usually linked to the written word
and evidence that criteria have been fulfilled, eg NVQs. This may not be relevant
for learners with a learning disability and future course development should take
account of what a person can realistically achieve. If for example this sort of
course was funded under work-based learning, the sort of framework used for
modern apprenticeships would in most cases be too prescriptive. Achievement
would need to be linked to specific individual targets such as completing the
work-based programme and achieving some generic work skills targets and
perhaps some of the Adult Core Curriculum Milestones or Entry Level Basic
Building accreditation around a mixture of job-specific and generic work skills
underpinned with Basic Skills at Entry or Pre-Entry might work for a purely work-
based learning model. The learning would require some degree of one-to-one
support from a job coach. There would need to be expertise in coaching people
with a learning disability specifically.
Many learners need skills in personal presentation, self advocacy, independence
(including money and travel), and problem-solving, most of which are covered in
the programme offered on the Breakaway/ Crawley College programme. This
would not count against a work-based learning model but some form of
classroom input would probably be required.
It is crucial to have a lot of information about what individual learners can and
cannot do in order to place them correctly and develop meaningful individual
programmes. It is equally crucial to match learning programmes specifically to
their needs rather than a pre-set ‘framework’. Although a work-based learning
approach would be workable, most learners need this to be supported by off-the-
job training in personal and basic skills. They also require job coach support from
an experienced person. The College view is that the right natural support from
within the workplace would require staff training, but Breakaway feels that this
should occur naturally if the job coach has done that part of the job effectively.
What Breakaway Supported Employment has learned: recommendations and
Find your local supported employment service for adults with learning
difficulties and/or disabilities and twin it with an FE college.
Identify sharing of capacity and roles.
Agree the division of labour in finding work experience placements.
Establish selection criteria for learners.
Agree the target group and select candidates for joint input for long-term
work (those needing extra one-to-one help making the transition out of
college and into work).
Agree who needs on-site support and how to communicate to benefit them
best (eg in our project, feedback on poor interview skills from Breakaway
enabled the college to input interview skills into the programme earlier).
Assess and match learners to positions and review termly.
Allocate support worker time in positions.
2.3. Carousel, Brighton, East Sussex
report by Mark Richardson
Carousel is a Brighton-based arts organisation, with projects of national
significance. Carousel aims to inspire people with learning disabilities to achieve
their artistic ambitions by offering them comprehensive training opportunities in
the arts, both as artists and as participants and audiences. Carousel offers artists
with learning disabilities opportunities to develop and structure their careers,
employing them to create, develop, perform and show their art. Learners are
encouraged to take artistic risks. Additionally, Carousel employs learners to
deliver participatory arts projects, providing positive role models of professional
artists with learning disabilities.
The Oska Bright Film Festival – background
The film festival is claimed to be the first anywhere in the world to be managed
by people with learning disabilities, for people with learning disabilities. As such it
embodies the ethos of Carousel – artists with learning disabilities at the core of
decision-making processes about their arts lives. All of Carousel’s work – dance
theatre, rock music, club showcases and participatory arts projects are led by
committees of artists with learning disabilities.
Carousel core philosophy is to ensure that the art produced reflects the artistic
culture of the learning disabled community, ensuring that they are in control of
the professional development of their own arts lives.
The Oska Bright Steering Committee
The committee was made up of six artists and film makers with learning
disabilities from across the south east region of England. They met regularly to
plan and deliver the festival. The steering committee had seven tasks that they
worked towards over the course of the film festival planning period.
Choose a name for the festival
Get money to make the festival happen
Choose the design of leaflets
Help to tell people about the film festival and get them to enter their films
Help to choose which films should be shown in the film festival
Choose which films win the competition
Help to plan the day of the film festival.
How the steering group worked
Each meeting agenda was planned by Carousel and Junk TV using the medium
of media and film. The meetings were filmed and turned into a DVD with a menu.
Both these strategies ensured that the minutes were accessible to people who do
The committee created a fundraising DVD outlining who they were, the
importance of the film festival, and its link into the Government White Paper,
Valuing People. This accompanied written proposals for funding, ensuring that
people with learning disabilities were clearly heading up the fundraising process.
The committee also attended meetings with potential funders to seek funding,
successfully obtaining it from the UK Film Council, Mencap, the Brighton and
Hove Council and the Arts Council England, South East.
The committee worked with Carousel’s marketing officer to ensure that press and
marketing coverage promoted the excellence of film made by learning disabled
people, from the artists’ perspectives – talking to the press, providing quotes and
managing their own press conference.
The Film Festival
The Oska Bright Film Festival 2005 took place at the Old Market, Brighton, on
Monday 28 November 2005. The committee selected 42 films from the 85 that
were submitted. They came from across the UK and Ireland. They were shown in
four separate screenings, each lasting for 35 minutes. Over 800 people attended
The Award Ceremony
The committee planned the Oska’s Award Ceremony and delivered it during an
evening event at The Blue Camel Club. They selected the winning films in five
different categories. The committee also awarded two bursaries to film makers
who showed the most promise – each bursary included two training days from
Junk TV to develop their film making skills.
The committee invited prominent people from the cultural industries to give out
the awards, creating a ceremony that included a walk up a red carpet.
Professionals carrying out this role included the Chief Executive of Screen South,
Jo Nolan, as well as Oska Bright patron Donal MacIntyre. The ceremony was
attended by 350 people.
The awards were designed and made by learning disabled artist Andy Kee in
collaboration with metalworker Belinda Ferretter.
People with learning disabilities are more than capable of developing
careers as artists, film makers and performers.
Film made by learning disabled people is exciting, challenging and
exploring new ground artistically.
Artists with learning disabilities can provide inspiration to one another to
achieve and develop their art forms.
People with learning disabilities can plan, manage and deliver a film
Artists with learning disabilities are trapped within the benefit system – if
they earn money they lose their benefit (this includes independent living
staff support, day centre places and a place in their residential home), and
therefore can only be paid as volunteers. This negates their recognition by
others as professional artists.
The film festival enabled people to celebrate their achievements as an
artistic cultural community, and offered chances for everyone to see the
quality of art work produced by learning disabled film makers who have
access to appropriate equipment and resources.
2.4. Dr B’s Café and Training Restaurant, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
report by Tricia Howard
Dr B’s is a training restaurant and coffee shop that has been successfully trading
in Harrogate for 20 years. Dr B’s provides training in catering for young people
aged between 16 and 24 with a wide range of learning needs. Most of the
learners work towards an NVQ, to provide them with the skills and knowledge to
enhance their opportunities for a successful work placement and/or employment.
All learners are offered support during their work placements and employment to
assist their transition into the ‘world of work’.
The aims of the Dr B’s case study project
While working on ideas for this project, staff at Dr B’s realised that it gave them a
good opportunity to look at the gaps in resources and marketing materials that
they use to engage potential work placement providers and employers.
As a team Dr B’s staff studied their current materials, concluding that all their
marketing material was geared towards both training and trading. Staff realised
that they needed to develop some material to raise awareness with local
employers, particularly larger ones.
What Dr B’s wanted to develop
After discussions among the staff team during staff meetings and with learners at
their monthly meetings, it was decided that the case study research project
should work on developing a ‘flyer’ that would be eye catching, colourful, not too
wordy and instantly related to young people. As Dr B’s is a Barnardo’s project,
the case study project team needed to incorporate both the Dr B’s logo and that
of the Barnardo’s umbrella organisation.
In addition, the learners and staff wanted the flyer to be in a bright colour and
contain something that would stand out on the front of the leaflet, so they decided
to use a mobile phone being held in the hand of a young person, thrusting it
forward from the leaflet with this text message displayed: ‘Help! Work placements
What Dr B’s did
Dr B’s needed to contact employers such as a small and medium-sized
businesses and a few larger ones with which they had not previously had
contact. To do this the team drew up a questionnaire to ensure that they had
captured all the information they needed plus any useful feedback from
The questionnaire research was carried out via telephone and one-to-one
meetings. The staff team were addressed during weekly staff meetings. The
team also decided that they would use the feedback gained from employers and
learners to create the flyer.
The team conferred with learners at the Learner Meetings to discuss their plans,
and to ensure complete inclusion they developed a competition and divided the
learners into three mixed ability groups to work on the question ‘What makes Dr
B’s special and why would an employer want to take a learner on work
The difficulties encountered
Dr B’s has a small team of nine full-time employees working in a training
environment in a busy restaurant and coffee shop with additional outside
functions, so time would be the most expensive commodity. Initially there were
two members of staff dedicating time to the case study, but after one of these left
Dr B’s, there was only one person who could act as focus for the project and
write the project report. As December is Dr B’s busiest period the whole case
study project had to be put on hold until returning to work in January, when all
efforts were put into designing and producing the flyer.
The biggest frustration throughout was trying to talk to the right person in the
larger businesses, for even when Dr B’s had managed to discover the name of
the person who should be able to help, they found that the person either did not
return calls or had too much other work. Dr B’s staff experienced this as time
consuming, frustrating and demoralising. Logs of telephone calls and
conversations were kept and even when people promised to ring back, it was
rare that they did. Dr B’s didn’t give up easily and persevered.
Local branches of two large national supermarkets showed some interest in what
Dr B’s was trying to do, but the initial reaction of one of them was not
encouraging. The named person was the Human Resources Manager in charge
of nine stores in Yorkshire, who felt that she would be too busy and unable to
make decisions at her level and despite promises to do so, did not return Dr B’s
phone calls. The second supermarket was more helpful but did point out that it
had its own scheme of work placements and advised that Dr B’s download the
information from its website to see if that would be of any help. The scheme was
a revelation to staff at Dr B’s, who couldn’t understand why they had not seen
any advertisements for such a scheme in the past. However the Support Human
Resources Manager did say she would like to see Dr B’s leaflet on its
Smaller and medium-sized businesses were more helpful and agreed to meet
personally to discuss Dr B’s aims and their answers were recorded. Two of these
business contacts, with whom Dr B’s had previously worked, agreed that they
would rather meet with the individual for a discussion, saying that they much
preferred ‘face to face’ rather than read paperwork!
What worked for Dr B’s?
Involving learners in the project was very rewarding and the level of the work
they produced far exceeded the expectations of Dr B’s staff. The learners were
keen to be involved and they took their projects seriously. The comments from
learners on the flyer were excellent; they all loved the flyer and the fact that Dr
B’s had used their idea of the mobile phone text message.
Involving the staff team sometimes proved more difficult as the role of finding
work placements for learners is not the responsibility of the whole team and falls
to just one or two members, so their level of interest was different. Attending the
LSDA seminars was useful so that one could meet other providers experiencing
some of the same difficulties. One of the highlights of the project for both learners
and Dr B’s staff was taking part in the making of the DVD Proper Hard Work.3
The flyers were sent out with covering letters to Dr B’s named contacts, but as
requested responses were not forthcoming, Dr B’s staff spent time on contacting
people by telephone to gather feedback.
Larger employers’ commented that they felt the flyer gave the correct message
and that provided it was delivered to the correct person, it would be of interest;
however they would prefer a follow-up telephone call as they would need
prompting to contact Dr B’s.
The medium-sized employer with whom Dr B’s was already in touch was very
enthusiastic about the flyer, giving positive feedback about the colour, amount of
content, the learners’ quotes and particularly the young person on the front
pushing the message across from the mobile phone.
Feedback from the small employer was that although they thought the flyer was
good they would still prefer personal contact, saying that any paperwork received
would either ‘be shelved or filed in the waste paper bin’. Dr B’s felt that this was
probably ‘fair comment’, coming from an extremely busy chef!
What have Dr B’s staff learned?
Think carefully about how much time is required when planning a project.
Catering, like other vocational areas, is a notoriously pressured
environment, particularly when training young people to NVQ standards at
the same time as dealing with members of the public and the demands of
the industry. Make sure you have sufficient time.
Dr B’s started the project with two coordinators working alongside each
other sharing ideas and setting objectives, which was easier than one
person alone as has been the case since January 2006.
The DVD Proper Hard Work features learners talking about their experiences in WBL and the
reasonable adjustments that their employers and WBL providers have made that enable them to
achieve their learning and career goals. The DVD and accompanying CD-ROM will be distributed
to all WBL providers free of charge. Copies are also available from the Learning and Skills
Enlist the help of colleagues and find the time to get them ‘on board’ to
share ideas if they too have a shared interest in the outcome.
Be persistent; don’t fall at the first hurdle and don’t be put off when people
don’t appear to want to talk to you.
Any project payments that will be made to you will enable you to reach
your goal and the end product will be your incentive.
Have high expectations of learners – they respond.
2.5. KM Training, Derby
report by KM Training
KM Training’s (KMT’s) objective was to investigate the effectiveness of a variety
of learning resources to support hairdressing apprentices, particularly those who
experienced learning difficulties. The focus was on IT-based programmes.
What KM Training did
They evaluated the resources available at KMT and considered the
advantages and disadvantages of each.
They looked at the systems in place for supporting learners and evaluated
the resources against this context.
They considered learners’ progress towards achieving their Key Skills
exams before and after utilising the resources.
They sought feedback from the learners through evaluations.
Difficulties that we encountered
Insufficient time: a small number of representative learners were identified for the
project and were asked to complete an evaluation. However, this took longer
than expected due to the geographical spread of the learners and the fact that
any outstanding evaluations had to be sent out via the salons and issues
followed up individually.
What worked well?
In-depth evaluations were a useful exercise for gauging learners’ thoughts,
particularly in relation to the different resources they have access to.
The responses were more mixed than anticipated – Numbershark (a program to
help improve numeracy skills and understanding4) was not as popular as we
would have thought and there was a wider spread in the resources favoured than
initially anticipated. This may reflect a preferred learning style.
By determining some of the sections and headings of the project at the
beginning, it made it easier to work on the project for smaller amounts of time or
whenever an idea occurred. It has also meant that following the initial discussion
everything was captured, whereas good ideas can sometimes be forgotten after
All of all learners responded in their evaluations that they preferred access to a variety of
resources rather than just e-learning.
2.6. Landmark Training, Stratford, East London
report by John Palmer
Landmark Training was keen to ensure that staff, as a key resource in the
delivery of training to learners, had all the tools necessary to match up to the
demands of proactive policies on equal opportunities and disability. Training for
staff is usually the first tool to be considered, and Landmark had already
addressed this issue. We could see however that staff needed to be well aware
of how the company’s policies affected them. The company needed to be aware
of specific training needs rather than ‘blanket’ needs, meaning that we had to
enhance the induction process used for new staff and the appraisal process for
It is no longer enough for staff simply to be aware of or have read the company’s
policies. To be fully inclusive, and especially for the benefit of those with learning
difficulties or disabilities that affect learning, Landmark believes that providers
need to be sure that staff have and use skills and knowledge relevant to their
work and their role, and that they have the qualities needed to implement the
The chance to focus on disability issues was particularly important as both the
management and staff in general felt that Landmark Training is well placed on
general issues relating to equal opportunities. However, the company’s record
with disability issues and learners with disabilities is less clear.
The intended product
Landmark Training’s policies on equal opportunities did not need to be changed.
The specific references to people with disabilities referred primarily to access but
the comprehensive statements of equality of opportunity, which already went
beyond the specific discriminations identified in law, embraced the wider needs
of people with difficulties.
Landmark Training had a very well organised and structured induction process
and a good appraisal system. We wanted to ensure that each of these processes
included a strong focus on the needs of learners with disabilities. This would
allow existing experience, knowledge and skills to be identified and matched to
the needs of the particular job within the company. Then any resultant training
needs could be established for future action.
Landmark Training needed to develop additions to each of the two processes so
that they were addressed in a meaningful way. We had to go beyond mere box
ticking if we wanted to make an impact. The resultant two pro-forma documents
have been developed and used but they will need to be further developed in the
light of future experience.
What Landmark Training did
The case study project coordinator collected all the information available within
the company about the induction and appraisal processes. Landmark Training
had also just carried out some valuable work on the Adult Learning Inspectorate
(ALI) diversity poster, the insights from which provided us with a positive
springboard for discussions with selected staff about the best way forward for
inductions and appraisals. As a result, two pro-forma documents were drafted
and tested by staff.
The difficulties and barriers
One challenge faced by Landmark Training in this particular case study derived
from the lack of staff experience of disability. As far as managers were aware,
personal experience of disability was very limited among staff, and contact with
people with disabilities was with friends or family, which posed questions of
confidentiality where staff felt that they did not wish to bring home experience into
Conversely, managers felt that staff who had no such direct experience might
feel vulnerable when drawn into discussions which might be seen to be giving
extra emphasis to such experience. Managers realised that they needed to
ensure that those who carry out inductions and appraisals were themselves
properly equipped to deal with disability issues.
A further difficulty showed itself when external assessments of Landmark
Training were carried out during the period of the case study. During inspection
and audit, functions had to be prioritised and some suspended. This meant that
on occasions during the lifetime of the case study, Landmark Training was not
operating in full and this had a knock-on effect on the case study, for example
when staff or space were unavailable.
What worked for Landmark Training
Landmark Training found that using a structure to influence the discussion at
induction (and therefore also at appraisal) was more useful that not having one,
and also more useful than a simple tick-box process. It allowed staff to express
themselves in their own way. They were more likely to communicate at a
personal level rather than provide responses that they thought managers were
Also, it could be seen that by making a note of the discussion under the same
headings, we helped individuals see that the process was a rolling one rather
than one that would have to be restarted every time. Even if the next interviewer
was different, the record would allow one process to build on the previous. It was
also clear that the separate and specific attention given to ‘disability’ at staff
induction raised new employees’ perception of the importance Landmark
Training attached to promoting disability issues.
Advice to other providers
Preparation and flexibility seem to be key attributes. On the one hand staff will
need skills to work with learners with identified disabilities and difficulties, but on
the other hand they must be ready to identify and respond to those whose needs
are not immediately apparent.
The range of learning and other support requirements is potentially very wide, so
a framework is required that helps staff to be alert to the fact that an individual
requires particular assistance and to be proactive in securing reasonable
2.7. Manchester Enterprises (Skills Solution and Employment Regeneration
report by Ed Salmon and Dave Moy
Manchester Enterprises (ME) is the economic development agency for Greater
Manchester. It holds a substantial contract for the delivery of LSC-funded
programmes, which it delivers through its operating companies and other
subcontractors. Within the ME group are two operating companies which
specialise in the delivery of LSC- and Jobcentre Plus-funded programmes:
Skills Solution – delivery of apprenticeship programmes in a wide range
of occupational frameworks.
Employment Regeneration Partnership (ERP) – focuses on
worklessness and delivers employability and Basic Skills programmes to a
wide range of adults in a variety of settings and E2E (Entry to
Our case study project focused on provision delivered by the two organisations.
However, the diversity and nature of the ME operating company operations provided an
opportunity for a wider sharing of the findings and outcomes of the project. For example,
Learndirect (ME is the hub operator), Nextstep (ME holds the contract for Greater
Manchester), EDU (Employer Development Unit) and other subcontractors were
represented on the steering group. Each was able to contribute ideas and information
about their current practice.
Within ME, there exists the Contracted Learning and Skills Programme (ClaSP)
Unit which monitors the performance and quality of the contracts that it holds with
the Learning and Skills Council Greater Manchester (LSCGM) through contract
management of its subcontractors (including the ME operating companies that
deliver the programmes).
Clear benefits have arisen from the establishment of the ClaSP Unit, which
specifically impact on the improvement in equality and diversity issues. The
quality improvement manager has a broad overview of activity in each of the
operating companies and, as a result, has been successful in bringing together a
variety of approaches to equality and diversity which are now beginning to
Background to the project – the rationale
It is useful to provide some background to both organisations in terms of equality
and diversity actions which helps illustrate the purpose of the two projects. This is
In the ALI Inspection of Skills Solution (September 2003), two key weaknesses
poor understanding of equal opportunities (EO) by learners
weak monitoring of EO in the workplace.
A key challenge was identified: improve the monitoring of equal opportunities in
Skills Solution’s EO and Diversity Group, in its development plan for 2004/05,
identified two key actions to address the weaknesses.
Improve Monitoring of EO in the workplace. Action under the project: a
revised Employer Toolkit (with an EO section) was produced jointly
between Skills Solution and ERP.
Review staff training programme for EO during 2004. To improve the
knowledge and confidence of employer-facing staff in equal opportunities,
EO updating training was held for all staff and included bullying and
harassment, disability awareness, dyslexia and the implications of DDA for
employers and training providers. Action under the project: further DDA-
specific training provided to staff during 2005.
In the subsequent ALI re-inspection (hairdressing) of Skills Solution, a single
weakness was found:
Weak promotion of equal opportunities with employers and learners.
Action under the project: staff worked with an LSDA consultant to explore
a strategy for improving monitoring with employers. Training events were
held with employer-facing staff. An employer guide to equality and
diversity and the DDA and a revised learner guide to equal opportunities
EMPLOYMENT REGENERATION PARTNERSHIP
In the ALI Inspection of ERP (May 2005), the key weaknesses under equal
insufficiently developed arrangements for monitoring equality practices in
insufficient analysis of data for equality of opportunity.
However, the inspection recognised that:
ERP has a very good strategic approach to widening participation of
learners from under-represented groups, which includes clear targeting of
17 of ERP’s 22 training centres are located in the top 10% most deprived
wards in England
ERP has an open-door policy for learners, many of whom have significant
personal and social barriers to gaining employment
ERP has developed an extensive range of effective strategic partnerships
to promote participation from under-represented groups
partnership with a local NHS trust has resulted in unemployed adults from
minority ethnic groups gaining employment
another project targets adults over 50 years of age
ERP operates a social employment agency (ASPIRE) that particularly
supports disadvantaged people into jobs
further work supports learners’ transition from prison into ERP’s
Conclusions leading to the case study projects
There are many good examples of widening participation by both organisations,
some of which have been confirmed during ALI inspections. Both organisations
(and Skills Solution in particular because of its essential relationship with
employers in apprenticeships) believe that a key success factor lies in improving
employer engagement. However, it has long been recognised that the majority of
employer-facing staff lack confidence in discussing equality and diversity issues
ALI inspection reports do not dismiss the very good work that both organisations
carry out in terms of widening participation. The weakness related to how data
was analysed to identify trends and used as a benchmark to set targets for
proactive measures that lead to improvement. This necessitated a more
systematic approach to the analysis of learner participation and achievement
through an agreed framework.
Equality and Diversity Impact Measures (EDIMs) were introduced in 2001 as a
mechanism to measure participation levels by under-represented groups in
lifelong learning and, in particular, work-based learning. Local targets were set
and monitored by local LSCs and provider performance monitored against them.
EDIMs have been the subject of ongoing improvement actions for Skills Solution
and ERP since 2003. Closer monitoring of targets set against LSCGM’s EDIMs
was an ongoing issue being addressed by both Skills Solution and ERP and
identified in their development plans.
During 2005, both organisations implemented the MAYTAS management
information (MI) system. Over the past year, significant progress has been made
in improving reporting and analysis of participation and achievement rates.
As there are clear similarities between the weaknesses of the two organisations,
it was decided that a joint cross-company approach would be beneficial. Two
projects were discussed with senior management in both organisations and
linked to their development plans:
the design of an employer awareness raising seminar and the
development of a brief guide to the DDA
a survey-based project leading to the establishment of a framework for
improved data analysis.
Progressing the case study project
Table 2.1 highlights, in chronological order, the key milestones achieved
(including impact) during the lifetime of this project.
Table 2.1 Key milestones for Manchester Enterprises
Action Date Impact
Review equal May 2005 Updated information
opportunities policies, with summaries for staff,
summary statements employers and learners,
including disability as appropriate.
statements within each
Initial meeting with Summer 2005 Helped to scope the
LSDA-allocated project and identify what
consultant. was and was not
achievable within the
New MAYTAS MI Mid-2005 Opportunity to improve
system introduced. reporting mechanisms
to enable systematic
analysis of data for
equality and diversity.
A dedicated equality August 2005 Information on EO more
and diversity web page readily accessible to
on Skills Solution’s employers and learners
newly redesigned via the website:
website with similar www.skillssolution.co.uk
plans for ERP.
An updated joint Skills September 2005 Improved focus on E&D
Solution and ERP at initial sign-up with
Employer Toolkit with an employers.
improved section on
equality and diversity
(E&D) and an employer
A joint Skills Solution October 2005 The group also included
and ERP steering group representatives from
to address equality and Learndirect, East
diversity (E&D) issues Manchester Partnership
and oversee the project. and Nextstep, and
encourages sharing of
good practice and
ME Learner Guide to October 2005 Found to be too long for
EO produced and shorter courses; led to
distributed. the development of a
brief guide for learners.
Staff development 2005/06 Updating training
programmes: deaf provided to staff. A need
awareness, sign for further updating
language, dyslexia training on DDA was
awareness and dyslexia identified for some staff
support training (LSC- and incorporated into
funded). the staff development
programme. Some staff
lack confidence in
discussing equality and
diversity issues with
First draft of Employers October 2005 The group decided the
Guide to Equality guide was too long and
presented to E&D proposed a briefer
Group. version. The LSDA
that a ‘suite’ of guides
be produced and
updated as necessary.
E&D Group discussed October 2005 First employers
selection of pilot identified in January
employers for E&D 2006. A joint event of
workshop Skills Solution, ERP and
EDU employers was
planned for April 2006.
Final draft of Employer January 2006 Was to be launched at
Guides: equal the Employer E&D
opportunities, Seminar April 2006.
DDA and E&D.
Draft framework December 2005 Opportunity to compare
produced for analysis of practice between
data for E&D. operating companies.
Opportunity to improve
process and monitoring
to equality and diversity
What we did
PROJECT 1: DESIGN OF AN EMPLOYER AWARENESS RAISING SEMINAR AND THE
DEVELOPMENT OF A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE DDA
Skills Solution introduced a learners’ guide to equal opportunities in 2003. This
was based on the (then) current legislation and had been systematically used
during learner induction programmes to improve awareness of equal
opportunities issues. The pack contained tasks for learners to complete at a later
date and a questionnaire which was reinforced at learner progress reviews. This
has, in general, been satisfactory in ensuring that equal opportunities is
addressed as an ongoing process of education. In certain occupational areas,
equal opportunities is included in the core curriculum, whereas in others it is not.
The project necessitated an evaluation of the learners’ guide with particular
emphasis on strengthening sections relating to the DDA and diversity in general.
It was agreed that the guide would be retained and updated and that it had a key
place in longer programmes such as apprenticeships. However, it was piloted
with shorter programmes, eg Learndirect, and it was found to be too detailed in
its coverage, due to the time constraints of short courses (this was a comment
made by an ALI inspector during the inspection of the ME hub operator in
November 2005). A summary sheet was devised as a stopgap and a decision
was made to produce a short learner guide to EO, to be made available to all
learners and clients receiving services from ME companies.
The employer toolkit was revamped and updated to include an equality and
diversity section with more comprehensive coverage. In addition, a ‘self-check’
questionnaire was included for employers, as organisations, to complete.
Although this relates more to the human resources function of an organisation
than to the training and development of staff through government funding, it was
considered an important opportunity to promote equality and diversity. There will,
undoubtedly, be a need to train employer-facing staff in the use of the employer
The first draft guide for employers on equal opportunities proved to be too
lengthy and unlikely to interest employers. The LSDA consultant suggested a
‘suite’ of guides that could be produced and updated and/or added to, as
necessary. It was agreed that initially three guides would be produced: equal
opportunities, equality and diversity and a simple guide to the DDA. These would
be in simple A5 ‘flier’ format with key bullets in understandable terms.
Several employers were consulted about their possible interest in a seminar.
Traditionally in work-based learning, it is difficult to attract employers to provider
events unless there is something of specific interest that they perceive as having
positive benefits for their businesses. Of those consulted, the majority agreed
that the main theme should be the implications of the DDA for employers. With
this in mind, the first of a series of short seminars was designed, to commence in
April 2006. A specialist trainer with a broad experience of the DDA and its
implications within both employment and education was engaged to deliver half-
day interactive workshops, including the use of case studies, questionnaires and
PROJECT 2: A SURVEY-BASED PROJECT LEADING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A
FRAMEWORK FOR IMPROVED DATA ANALYSIS
Both Skills Solution and ERP have effective strategies for widening participation.
Skills Solution recruits a large proportion of its apprentices from some of the most
deprived wards in Greater Manchester. ERP contracts to deliver E2E (Entry to
Employment) programmes and Job Centre Plus New Deal programmes (aimed
at tackling worklessness). It therefore actively targets many groups under-
represented in learning, eg probationers, prisoners and ex-offenders, and
minority ethnic and disabled people. Many of its clients have basic literacy and
numeracy needs. Among the strategies is an extensive range of effective
strategic partnerships to promote participation from under-represented groups.
Despite this, there has been insufficient analysis of data for equality of
opportunities (according to ALI inspection reports). The root cause lies in the
systems used for the collection of data, which is collected from personal
information provided by learners upon commencement of their programmes. This
is collected against the ‘approved’ list of categories required by the LSC and Job
Centre Plus. A further point for consideration is that not all learners feel
comfortable about declaring a disability for fear of not being accepted on to their
ME has implemented a new MI system (MAYTAS), which offers considerably
more scope for analysing data. A framework has been developed which is
designed to capture a broader range of information than was previously possible.
This will enable senior managers and programme managers to identify those
programmes where there is under-representation of specific groups of learners.
The statistics can be compared to local EDIM targets and key performance
indicators for improvement put in place. Furthermore, the new MI system will
enable comparative data to be made available that illustrates the differences in
rates of achievement by different groups of learners. This developmental work
will continue during 2006.
What worked well
Positive factors include:
the establishment of a cross-ME steering group to explore E&D issues
the sharing of information and good practice between the operating
the opportunity to improve the supplier approval process and contract
monitoring documentation relating to equality and diversity procedures
the opportunity to address some of issues highlighted in ALI inspections.
What was difficult
ensuring a broad representation from each operating company and
subcontractor within the ME group
gaining commitment to the project
time to ensure a successful project
maintenance and ownership of ongoing evaluative and developmental
Recommendations to others wishing to carry out similar work
Provide training for employer-facing staff in the use of the Employer
Toolkit and build confidence in discussing equality and diversity issues.
Ensure that the organisation signs up to the implementation of a common
framework for the collection and analysis of data for equality of
Roll out a series of short seminar workshops for employers.
2.8. Michael John, Liverpool
report by Phil Saunders
As a ‘Hairdressing and Beauty’ WBL Provider, Michael John of Liverpool has
endeavoured to ensure that its learners receive the appropriate support for their
many requirements. However, despite the company’s best endeavours, it was
evident that for certain individuals the mechanisms that had been set in place
were not ensuring that Michael John received all the information that was
necessary to construct valid, relevant individual learning plans for learners with
With the implications set out in the DDA Part 4 regarding the disclosure of a
disability, and what responsibilities learning providers must undertake when
initially assessing a learner, it seemed imperative that, as Michael John evolved
towards a more disability-positive outlook, that aim was properly reflected in the
company’s processes for assessment and induction.
To make the project manageable Michael John focused its case study on the
following aims, which were:
to identify areas of best practice in ensuring that disability equality is
promoted positively at initial assessment and actively supported within the
Michael John environment
to investigate the contributing factors that may lead to a learner not
wishing to state a disability and identify positive ways to challenge these
And within those main aims Michael John hoped to achieve:
a review of processes which invited or encouraged disclosure of disability
in initial assessment practice across a range of WBL providers
an investigation of the challenges and prejudices that disabled learners
fear within the processes of initial assessment and continued support.
The products Michael John sought to develop
From the investigations, Michael John hoped to produce two training sessions
with associated handouts and resources on:
best practice in relation to disclosure of disabilities or learning difficulties
within initial assessment, aimed at college staff
challenges and prejudices disabled learners fear in work-based learning,
aimed at both college staff and learners.
In addition to the training sessions described above, Michael John also wished to
produce a summary of both lines of investigation, providing details of best
practice in the identification and support of learners with disabilities in the WBL
How the case study was conducted
Six learning providers were selected to be approached to take part in the
research, in consultation with the Learning and Skills Council and the Greater
Merseyside Learning Providers Federation. This was based upon EDIM targets
submitted to the Learning and Skills Council, past history with disabled learners
and willingness to take part in the research. It was considered that it was
important not to make their input to the research too onerous.
An interview schedule was developed for use with a range of appropriate staff
regarding the structure of the initial assessment process and management
information regarding the retention and success of learners with a learning
difficulty or disability. A further interview schedule was developed for use with
learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, focusing on their thoughts,
attitudes and experiences within WBL and how their training organisations or
previous training organisations had or had not supported their learning and
Initial contact was made with the selected organisations via a telephone
conversation outlining the aims and purpose of the project, identifying LSDA as
the organisation undertaking the research and requesting the cooperation of a
named individual. Following initial contact, Michael John awaited responses from
the organisations before proceeding with a follow-up contact. At follow-up the
project research requirements were discussed in more detail, explaining that the
research would not form part of any audit or inspection of provision and that all
data and any findings from the research would remain confidential. It was
explained that collated results only would be reported and examples would not
be attributed to specific respondents without the express permission of the
Due to the sensitive nature of the project’s aims it was felt that learners should be
allowed to volunteer their willingness to take part. The interviews were
undertaken within the learners’ usual learning environment in conditions in which
they felt comfortable. Care was taken to explain the aims and the purpose of the
research to learners in a manner appropriate to their learning styles.
Further to these exercises, a review of literature produced since the introduction
of the DDA Act Part IV was organised to expand further the knowledge base the
case study project had to evaluate. This review was organised with a specific
focus on initial assessment, disclosure of disabilities or learning difficulties, and
learner experiences through these processes.
Issues affecting the completion of the project
Although providers were given notice of the study and were invited to support the
project (in some cases directly by the LSC), it was difficult in a number of
instances to make arrangements actually to carry out the interviews. Many of the
providers were constrained by workload pressure and a lack of staff time, as the
interviews required a significant amount of time and data collection and for all
providers the timing of the research coincided with an exercise involving the
rationalisation of providers approved status, being conducted by the LSC.
Some providers contacted felt that they had little to offer the project as they were
not providing support to learners within the scope of the project. Matters were
further complicated by the absence of the case study project researcher/ leader
for a considerable time due to illness.
Despite the problems associated with the research, some valuable findings were
uncovered, vindicating the aims of the project.
Because of the problems mentioned above, it was with some difficulty that the
project was completed. However, despite those difficulties, the following
outcomes were achieved:
a training presentation with disseminated speaker notes: Initial
Assessment of Learners with a Learning Difficulty or Disability
dissemination of a project report entitled Encouraging Disclosure of
Disability within Work-Based Learning.
Future guidance for people undertaking similar project work
Having only six identified providers to work with initially, presented problems with
securing arrangements for visits and of course staff time to commit to the project.
Thus Michael John would advise that further investigations into ‘disclosure’ of
disability and of ‘initial assessment’ need to be conducted with a larger number of
providers than was possible in the present case study to ensure greater
participation in the research.
The suitability of providers within the target group was an issue. The local LSC
recommended Providers to the programme which had an expressed interest in
developing provision for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, or
had specifically mentioned activity in this regard within EDIM targets. This
caused some confusion in relation to seeking out best practice, as most
Providers were trying to find best practice rather than demonstrate it.
The timing of the case study project coincided with a review of provider
arrangements being conducted by the LSC. This led to delays; for a long period
when they could have been participating in the case study project, Providers
were under review to determine whether they had approved status and could
therefore receive a licence to operate independently in the coming year. This
also led to further delays as people were required for other duties.
Learner discussions worked well and delivered good responses. One-to-one
discussions worked best as an air of confidentiality could be fostered. However,
even this success was not without its difficulties as some learners were wary of
strangers asking questions about matters that the learners felt were personal.
Group discussion proved to be the least satisfactory means of gathering
information as so many learners were not prepared to discuss their responses in
front of other learners.
There is a great deal of useful material available on the internet.
2.9. North Downham Training, Lewisham
report by Sam Ryan
The North Downham Training Project (NDTP) case study focuses on individuals
with learning difficulties and/or D/deaf5 and their experiences. It reports on the
difficulties, barriers and support encountered on their journey through training to
enter or re-enter employment.
The purpose of the project has been to enable local D/deaf people to voice their
experiences of training and of entering or re-entering employment, and help
highlight the difficulties, barriers and support they face. We have also sought to
develop a piece of evidence which could be used to base future activities and
funding applications on and develop a summarised help and information sheet
for employers to raise awareness.
What we did
A draft questionnaire was compiled to cover all aspects of our original brief. This
was presented in an initial group session to three D/deaf individuals who
evaluated its layout, structure and subsequent presentation. Suggestions were
taken on board and slight alterations were made before it was formally used.
Suggestions included further alterations to terminology used on the sign
language structure form. Two questionnaires were drafted to reflect the
communication difficulties. Questionnaire 1 was written in ‘full English’;
questionnaire 2 used the same format and questions but was written in a
structure more related to sign language. Both questionnaires were co-devised by
the initial group session participants. It was decided to use the questionnaire as a
base for group discussions.
D/deaf is a convention used in the Deaf world to denote that a person is physically deaf or hard
of hearing but who also uses British Sign Language and is culturally deaf.
The overall aims of the case study and questionnaire were introduced to each participant
along with a brief explanation of why the North Downham Training Project felt this piece
of research was important and why we, as an organisation, had decided to pursue it.
Two group sessions were then held in line with participants’ suggestions to help provide
a platform to present the questions to four of the participants. This process:
helped remove language and communication barriers as the information
was then truly presented in an accessible way to participants
offered an opportunity to gain deeper insight into issues raised
provided the opportunity to share examples and experiences more
Following the group sessions individuals then completed their own
questionnaires noting down their own ideas and the issues which they felt most
strongly about. Two additional individuals also completed questionnaires at one-
What we learned
There were, perhaps not surprisingly, similar issues raised for both the learning
and training opportunities, and employment. Key issues raised are listed below.
Barriers to learning and training opportunities
Although participants had come from very different educational backgrounds, and
for the most part very different personal backgrounds, the commonalities which
started to appear were surprising. Many issues were raised but there were very
definite threads which ran through the findings in relation to both barriers and
suggestions for improvements.
Information below is based on the number of participants who agreed with or had
experienced these difficulties.
The primary difficulty stated by all participants was Interpreters. There were not
enough interpreters and their skills varied. Examples included participants who
realised that their communicator either did not have the level of education or the
level of signing skill to be communicating the subject.
Secondary difficulties faced (stated by 4–5 participants) included the following.
There were not enough D/deaf teachers in schools (including Deaf
schools). This was not only to facilitate the learning process but also to
show identifiable role models for the D/deaf child or student, showing what
can really be achieved by D/deaf people.
There were problems when attending a disabled school because there
were lots of different disabilities in the school – not only deaf. People in
the discussion group felt that this was not fully appreciated as a barrier. It
was felt that disabled people are put in the same school because they are
‘disabled’ and not because of their individual needs.
British Sign Language was not taught formally at school. This was
perhaps one of the most surprising issues to be brought up. Only one of
the participants had received any formal sign language training at school
(ie leading to a formal qualification). Although for most, sign language is
their first language, the only language certification they had received was
for their second language – English.
There was not enough balance with aural and speech therapy. The school
system and the methods used for teaching caused great debate in the
discussion groups as to the suitability of aural or speech and sign
language in schools.
Suggestions on how to improve access to learning and training opportunities
more interpreters. This is already recognised as a need by Deaf
professionals and those (such as NDTP) who work in support of D/deaf
the need for more Deaf teachers
more Deaf-only schools
more support workers working within schools, colleges etc, ie one-to-one
to help catch up, using good support workers, who would be able to work
alongside students (where appropriate) to further facilitate their learning
a review of how English is taught to D/deaf people, eg the need for more
pictures and visual aids.
Barriers to employment opportunities
Again this area showed many commonalities among participants’ experiences,
the first of which mirror the learning and training barriers. Primary barriers and
issues include the following.
There can be problems with interpreters. Examples of difficulties and
o interpreters not being booked for interviews, making it
impossible to be fairly interviewed
o employers not booking or interpreters not turning up for training
and meetings, leading to limited support when learning the job
or trying to have the same level of involvement as other staff.
o interpreters arriving late, which at interview can not only add to
nervousness but also, it is felt, give employers a negative
perception of employing a D/deaf person.
There is a lack of DEAs (Disability Employment Advisers). Specific issues
raised include the number of DEAs available (sometimes one DEA covers
2–3 job centres so they are not always available; there is not enough
support from individual DEAs; and most do not sign or understand Deaf
D/deaf people can have problems understanding job application forms. As
they are written in formal English, they are difficult to understand and
some terminology is not part of common vocabulary. Examples given
include: Kin (next of kin), Pro-rata, Siblings, Vocational qualifications and
Secondary difficulties and issues faced by participants (stated by 4–5
participants) include the following.
There can be general communication barriers – mainly due to lack of
understanding by employers and lack of support.
Employers tend to have a lack of awareness. They do not understand
Deafness, they do not know how to book interpreters, they do not know
what support is suitable and they are not aware why D/deaf people even
need support. For example, it is commonly thought that because D/deaf
people are able to read, they can read to the same level as a hearing
person and therefore a colleague taking notes in a meeting is sufficient,
without employing an interpreter.
Recommendations on how to improve access to employment opportunities
More interpreters are needed.
Employers need deaf employment awareness (DEA) training, eg how to
set up rooms for meetings to improve access for the D/deaf employee;
informing employers of other physical problems, eg lip-reading individuals
with beards can be extremely difficult; the need for good lighting and
Employers and Job Centre staff should have training to make them aware
that many D/deaf people have different written English skills from hearing
people. BUT that it does NOT mean they are stupid!
Improve the entire DEA service:
o Review the level of help, support and time which can be accessed.
o Provide DEAs with better initial deaf awareness training and
ongoing training, which could include ongoing sign language
o Make it compulsory for DEAs to use interpreters at advisory
meetings where the client requires it.
Recommendations for further development
Communication – there is a need for appropriate communication.
Support – consider what measures you need to put in place in order to
support D/deaf employees and what measures are required to support
their employers. These will need to be carefully planned, negotiated and
agreed with both employees and employers.
Training is needed – for employers, professionals working in employment
and D/deaf people.
2.10. Nottinghamshire Training Network (NTN), Mansfield
report by Carla Tudbury
NTN is a not-for-profit organisation that was formed on 1 January 2005. It has
evolved to support Nottinghamshire’s work-based learning (WBL) and workforce
development (WFD) provider network. NTN’s three-year business plan (2004/07)
sets out a strategy to transform the WBL/WFD sector to be more responsive to
employer and employee needs (youth and adult) and increase the emphasis on
being demand led.
NTN’s provider network consists of: seven local colleges; eight national training
providers; eighteen local training providers; two local authorities; one chamber of
commerce; and five support organisations. All of these are involved in delivering
WBL and apprenticeships for about 8000 learners (annual average in training);
an annual throughput of 11 000 learners; and servicing and supporting over 6000
local businesses (public and private). WBL is a ‘roll-on roll-off’ programme
designed to be delivered to national standards at the learner’s own pace and
supports individual learning styles.
The NTN case study project
‘Achievement in Actu’6 is NTN’s response to the LSDA project to ‘Improve Work-
based Learning for People with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities’. The
purpose of this project has been to research and disseminate good practice in
WBL using ICT to support learners with learning difficulties and disabilities. The
aims and outcome of the project are listed in Table 2.2.
Abbreviation for Actuality
Table 2.2 Aims and outcomes of the NTN project
To research what software and A directory of software and specialised
specialised ICT equipment is currently ICT equipment which is currently used
used or available within the or available within the Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire Network. Network.
To produce a training proposal to up- Workshops planned, resourced and
skill provider staff in using ICT to delivered to address provider staff
support learners with learning needs in using ICT to support learners
difficulties and disabilities. with learning difficulties and disabilities.
To identify and disseminate existing Provider and learner case studies.
models of good practice within work-
To achieve the aims and outcomes of this project an action plan was produced to
address each aim as listed in Table 2.3.
Table 2.3 NTN action plan
Aims Action points
To research what Web-based research to identify the range of
software and software and specialised ICT equipment available to
specialised ICT support learning difficulties and disabilities – to inform the
equipment is content of a teaching and learning survey.
currently used or
available within the Visit to Nottinghamshire Dyslexia Association ICT
RNIB Training – Seeing the potential
Achievement in Actu Teaching and Learning Survey
produced and distributed to 16 members of the
Achievement in Actu Marketing, Recruitment and Health
and Safety Survey produced and distributed to 16
members of the Nottinghamshire Network.
Results from the Teaching and Learning and the
Marketing, Recruitment and Health and Safety Surveys
were compiled and the findings discussed.
Research links were developed with external agencies
which can support the sourcing of ICT software and
equipment to support learners with learning difficulties
To produce a training Achievement in Actu Practitioner Survey produced and
proposal to up-skill distributed to 16 members of the Nottinghamshire
provider staff in using Network.
ICT to support
learners with learning Results from the practitioner survey were analysed and
difficulties and used to identify the content of the staff training workshop.
Resources to support delivery of the training workshop
Training proposal to be written.
To identify and Achievement in Actu Learner Survey produced and
disseminate existing distributed to 50 learners.
models of good
practice within work- Results analysed.
Case studies of good practice written.
What NTN did
Effective use was made of recognised websites to inform the content of the
teaching and learning and the marketing, recruitment and health and safety
surveys. The surveys were produced in an electronic format which could be
returned via e-mail. All of the network members were e-mailed and asked if they
wished to participate in the surveys. Fifteen members representing local
providers, national providers, colleges and a chamber of commerce indicated
that they wished to participate in the survey. The surveys were forwarded by e-
mail to all 15 of these members.
The two surveys yielded a low response rate, even though e-mail reminders and
follow-up phone calls were made (Table 2.4).
Table 2.4 NTN survey response rates
Survey No. of % of those
Teaching and Learning 6 40%
Marketing, Recruitment and 3 20%
Health and Safety
The results of the Teaching and Learning Survey showed that the providers
surveyed appear to have very little specialist software and ICT equipment. It was
important that NTN looked at how a supportive network for linking into outside
organisations and agencies could enable the accessibility of specialist resources
and equipment within the network.
Other issues were highlighted by the survey responses, such as that:
50% of those surveyed said that their training staff did not know or were
not sure how the DDA impacts on the delivery of teaching and learning.
83% of those surveyed said that their employers were not aware or not
sure how the DDA impacts on the work with an apprentice in the
These issues where discussed by the network Equality and Diversity Operational
Group and it was decided to develop the NTN website to include useful
information to support provider staff who were working with learners with learning
difficulties and disabilities.
Discussions with provider staff revealed that there was a lack of awareness of:
the impact of disability on learning
approaches to supporting disabilities and learning difficulties
technology that could be used to support learners with disabilities and
where to get help and advice for particular learning difficulties and
The draft website was structured to encompass all four of the bullet points above.
The aim of the site was to bring together information about disabilities and link it
to the information about how to support a learner with a particular difficulty. Due
to restrictions on the size of the NTN website, it was important to embed as many
links as possible. A great deal of research was carried out to identify suitable
websites to link to before producing each of the information sheets. This was a
very time-consuming activity, so only three information sheets were completed by
The practitioner survey was e-mailed to all 16 of the providers wishing to
participate. Each provider was asked to circulate the practitioner survey to
members of staff who were directly involved in the writing, delivering or
assessing of a programme of work-based learning.
Twenty-five surveys were completed and returned. Again, this is a relatively low
response rate, but it is difficult to calculate the percentage response as we do not
know the exact number of staff involved in writing, delivering and assessing
within each of the providers surveyed.
The results of the Practitioner Survey identified the areas that needed to be
addressed through a training workshop or package. Web-based research into the
availability of resources to support the delivery of the training package was
carried out. The Abilitynet fact and skills sheets were found to be user friendly
and comprehensive and so they were chosen to support the delivery of the
programme. The Abilitynet fact sheets and worksheets are freely downloadable
from www.abilitynet.org.uk. The training proposal was then written.
Learner surveys were produced to identify the learners’ perceptions about using
ICT to support their learning. The NTN Learning Support Advisers were asked to
complete learner surveys with each of the learners that they worked with as this
would give a cross section of learners from different providers, on different
vocational programmes at different levels. Fourteen responses were gathered
Planned and final outcomes for the project can be found in Table 2.5.
Table 2.5 Planned and final outcomes of the NTN project
Planned outcome Final outcome
Directory of software and Information sheets for supporting:
specialised ICT equipment visual impairment
which is currently used or visual distortion
available within the physical disability.
These have been produced and are ready to be
uploaded to website.
To produce a training proposal Training proposal completed and resourced.
to up-skill provider staff in
using ICT to support learners
with learning difficulties and
To identify and disseminate Learner survey complete and analysed.
existing models of good
practice within work-based
Upload information sheets to the NTN website.
Complete, and upload to the NTN website, the information sheets for:
o hearing impairment
o learning difficulties
o mental health
o autistic spectrum disorders.
Test out the workshop resources.
Pilot and evaluate the training workshop.
Case studies of good practice to be produced by the Equality and
Diversity Operational Group.
The Equality and Diversity Operational group to plan an equality and
diversity event, to include an exhibition of adaptive and assistive
2.11. Rewards TRC, Haywards Heath, West Sussex
report by Ann Reese
Rewards TRC was established in 1989. It is a training provider company
delivering frameworks and NVQs in the workplace through WBL and Learndirect.
Its main programme areas are customer service, business administration,
management, retail, hospitality, warehousing and distribution and ITQ (the IT
user NVQ). In addition to frameworks and NVQs, Rewards TRC deliver Skills for
Life, IT and business courses both commercially and through Learndirect.
Rewards TRC is based in Haywards Heath, near Brighton, Glasgow and
Large companies and institutions have the infrastructure in place to ensure
compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and to promote changes
proactively to encourage learners, employees and customers across the whole
spectrum of disabilities. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) generally
do not have the infrastructure or the impetus to consider their duties under the
DDA or to introduce change (unless there is a carrot or stick applied, eg a
requirement in order to receive government funding or licensing). There are
numerous issues surrounding responses to disability in general and the DDA in
commercial pressures: all SMEs are focused on keeping their businesses
going and paying their bills at the end of the month
ignorance: some are just unaware of the DDA
head in the sand: some are aware of the DDA but choose to ignore it and
wait to be bitten when caught out
confused: some are aware of the DDA but don’t know where to find help
frightened: some have a perception that it will cost a great deal of money
couldn’t care less: some wilfully avoid even considering the issue.
The first thing to acknowledge is that SMEs are operating in a very difficult
environment. They have to juggle priorities and roles every day covering health
and safety, employment responsibilities, finance, marketing their businesses,
developing new product lines and dealing with clients and customers. It is no
surprise that additional legal responsibilities are sometimes not absorbed or just
ignored. I work for an SME and can compare the constraints and pressures
under which we operate compared to those of our college partners.
First-hand experience from our client base over several years has confirmed that
SME response to disability issues is mixed. That mixed reaction has a knock-on
impact on the number of learners with disabilities being recruited on to and
achieving apprenticeships. This is especially true for WBL providers like Rewards
TRC because our enrolment focus is on potential learners already in
employment. Thus to increase the number of learners with disabilities involved in
apprenticeships, we first need to tackle getting those potential learners into
A further topic for consideration is the term ‘disability’. Over the years, this has
widened from a narrower definition which covered physical or medical issues into
one encompassing a wide spectrum of issues including learning difficulties.
However, this change of definition has not been absorbed by the wider SME
community. Disability is still often associated exclusively with wheelchair use.
Our ultimate goal is to increase the success of learners with disabilities on
apprenticeship programmes. Taking it one step at a time, our immediate goal is
to reduce the negative perceptions surrounding disability which some SMEs
What we decided to do
We posed the question: ‘how can we raise the positive profile of disability and
reduce the misconceptions surrounding disability in the SME environment?’ At
our first case study project meeting, we decided to organise an event to promote
working positively in the context of disability in the Brighton area. The focus of
the event would be the practical help available to SMEs to enable them to
respond positively to disability in their customers and employees. By focusing the
event on practical help rather than high-level strategies and visions, it was
anticipated that this would give the project the means to attract SMEs. Thus the
‘Practical is Beautiful’ event was born.
Before starting on the logistics of organising an event, there were two key
decisions to be taken if the project was to get off the ground and prove feasible.
The first decision was on strategies for getting our message heard in Brighton.
The first step was to talk to one of our partners, City College Brighton and Hove,
to see whether it would be interested in supporting the project. With a firm
commitment to disability awareness, the College readily volunteered to support
the event, especially in marketing and by providing a venue. We were also keen
that the event should be associated with training by locating it in a central, high
profile educational venue.
The second decision was which SMEs to target. There are thousands of small
businesses in Brighton, across a wide spectrum of sectors. To try and reach all of
them would have been unrealistic so we decided to concentrate on one sector
because the format could be rolled out to other sectors at a later date. The retail
sector is a high priority in Sussex, and Brighton has a varied and very active
retail environment. In addition, retail outlets deal with thousands of customers
each day and employ a large workforce. Hence they are likely to have engaged
with people with a wide range of disabilities, so we concluded that the topic
would be a real and immediate one for them.
Shaping the ‘Practical is Beautiful’ event
The original idea for the event centred on acquiring a speaker from a national
organisation, so we contacted Direct Enquiries, which promotes accessibility and
brings compliant businesses to the attention of people with disabilities. It aims to
support SMEs’ business objectives, saying:
Direct Enquiries (www.directenquiries.com) has been developed … to assist
businesses to attract more business and meet part of their legal obligation
without spending huge amounts of money.
It was also important to give the event a local perspective as well as a national
perspective. We contacted a new Sussex-based organisation, Disability Equals
Business, which agreed to support our event by providing a speaker. The
attraction of working with Disability Equals Business was that it has a very
practical outlook and is completely focused on working with businesses to initiate
Both Direct Enquiries and Disability Equals Business agreed to provide a
presentation and handouts for our planned event.
Logistics or ‘what we learned on the way’
We sought guidance from our LSC contract manager, the Retail CoVE7 manager
and the College’s marketing manager on the best date, day and time for the
event. It had to fit between the busy times of the January sales and Easter.
Tuesday to Thursday would be the best days as these avoided the busy
weekend peak. Early mornings were unsuitable as shops were being prepared
for opening; lunchtime is too busy; afternoon conflicts with end of the day and
would leave wasted time; early evening straight after closing was felt to offer the
best time to attract an audience, ie catch them as they went home. Bearing all
these factors in mind, the event was set for Wednesday 8 February 2006,
starting at 6.00pm.
There would need to be some added attraction especially on a cold, dark
February night. The College agreed to provide refreshments and a buffet to
revive the attendees and presenters.
The next step was to market the event. City College Brighton and Hove has links
with several retail traders’ organisations in the North Laines area and Churchill
Square Shopping centre, two of the main retail areas in Brighton. The trade
Centres of Vocational Excellence
associations for both these areas agreed to publicise the event in their trade
magazines and at their retailer meetings. City College also persuaded the local
daily newspaper to include a small item in one of its editions.
These initial marketing tasks were the tip of the iceberg. We were advised by all
our partners that the retail sector is notoriously difficult to engage and we would
need to work on a ratio of ten invitations to one acceptance. Thus, to get an
audience of 50, we would have to target 500 companies. In order to widen the
net and encourage attendance, we offered two places per business so in theory
our catchment had increased to 1000. The list of invitees was compiled using
local business directories, our own company contacts and local knowledge. The
selection was made on postcode and sector, so that businesses closer to the city
centre were chosen on the basis that their staff had less distance to travel to the
location. The final count of invitations was 560 businesses. Most invitations were
addressed to an individual rather than to ‘The Manager’.
One week before the event, we rang around to check who planned to attend.
Two days before the event, we visited businesses in the streets closest to the
College for face-to-face follow ups.
The invitation and follow-up part of the project were very time consuming and
probably took at least five days of full-time effort.
The ‘Practical is Beautiful’ event
City College Brighton and Hove further proved its support for the event when the
college principal agreed to welcome the speakers and attendees, and to open
The speakers from Disability Equals Business and Direct Enquiries emphasised
key points of information which SMEs need to consider the fact that:
people with disabilities have an estimated £80+ billion per year spending
most people with disabilities acquire those disabilities later in life, so with
an aging population, more of your customers and employees will be
there is help out there for you
the emphasis is on reasonable adjustment.
The speakers pointed out that some of the most effective changes cost very little
money. Some simple examples are to:
have a pen and paper handy to help communicate with profoundly deaf
make sure some signs are slightly larger
put some signs on non-white paper.
Was the event successful? Only in part. The presenters were excellent and the
contacts made between the presenters, the College and the other attendees will
develop well in the future.
In spite of all the hard work, only two retailers attended. This was extremely
disappointing, but we had begun to suspect this might be the case in the days
leading up to the event. The CEO of Rewards TRC spent an afternoon visiting
retailers and inviting them personally, but she was taken aback by the lack of
interest. As soon as the topic of disability was raised, barriers appeared and she
could see a physical change in the body language of the individual she was
Immediately after the event, our initial reaction was to question whether we had
picked the wrong date, time or venue, or used the wrong means of
communication, ie we examined all the aspects we had under our direct control.
We kept coming back to the same conclusion: that there is still an immense lack
of interest in addressing disability issues in the SME sector. Effective support for
learners with disabilities will not be forthcoming until SMEs show an increased
awareness of disability issues and a commitment to making the necessary
changes. So the conclusion we draw is that there is more work to be done with
SMEs if the number of learners with a disability on apprenticeships is to increase.
You need to keep repeating the disability message to retailers as the sector is
difficult to ‘crack’.
Despite the low attendance figures, we still feel that face-to-face invitation works
best; but it is time consuming.
What we will do as a result of what we have learned?
Change our Employer Handbook to include reference to Disability Equals
Business and Direct Enquiries.
Change our initial assessment to identify better learner disability needs
and retrain our sales and training staff.
Develop more effective support for learners with disabilities.
Work with the Retail CoVE to produce a disabilities folder.
Work with Central Sussex College to deliver another event in north
Sussex – bearing in mind the lessons learned through the ‘Practical is
2.12. Rocket Training, Liverpool
report by Claire Vincent
Rocket Training Limited (RTL) set out to design a fact sheet to provide
information to prospective employers, learners and staff outlining how RTL is
able to support learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities and how to
access what specialist equipment may be available and any other forms of
support. This fact sheet was also intended to be used to inform learners during
induction about how RTL support learners with learning difficulties and/or
disabilities, particularly learners who are reluctant to disclose information about
their learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
What Rocket Training wanted to develop
The aim was to create a fact sheet along the lines of the company’s existing
advertising materials to be used as a marketing tool for employers, with a view to
incorporating the information into staff induction. This should ensure that new
staff in particular are made aware of the depth of support that RTL offers to
learners on any programme.
What Rocket Training did
We researched the support needs of two individual learners and use what we
discovered as the basis for producing a fact sheet; this used the design concepts
of our existing advertising materials in order to maintain a recognisable house
style for this new marketing tool for use with employers. We also worked to
incorporate the information in the leaflet into staff induction sessions to ensure
that new staff are made aware of the depth of support that RTL offers to learners
on any programme. The work-based learning coordinator listed the different
organisations she contacted to find out about financial support available for RTL
to source any specialist equipment.
The difficulties encountered
We had difficulty finding a reliable source to ask about funding for equipment to
make work access easier. It was apparent that it was a ‘catch-22’ situation in that
the learner needed to be in work before funding was available, but he or she
needed the equipment to be available in the workplace before starting. RTL
accessed funding through the local LSC, through the additional support stream
The WBL coordinator also checked if additional funding was available for the
learner from the job centre, Connexions or the LSC. There is no ‘one-stop shop’
to access advice for sourcing equipment or funding availability.
After a number of telephone calls to various organisations, funding and support
for a vocational assessment of the learner’s role was obtained.
RTL was provided with a contact number to access the person to conduct the
vocational assessment. This took place and eventually RTL was then able to
purchase a specialist telephone with Type Talk. This has meant that a deaf
learner can communicate with staff to chase queries relating to databases and
also ask coordinators if they have any typing or other general office work that
needs to be done.
Staff training was provided for the coordinators on how to use Type Talk.
Following this training a management decision was taken to make work simpler
for the deaf learner by ensuring that only coordinators would request information
from the database via the Type Talk method.
What advice would Rocket Training give to other providers?
Contact your work-based learning coordinator for advice and guidance on
sourcing funding via the local job centre, Connexions office or local LSC.
2.13. Shaw Trust, Harrow on the Hill
report by Sheila Clements
The Shaw Trust provides work-based training for young adults with learning
difficulties and other disabilities.
This project set out to:
research whether financial incentives (specifically education maintenance
allowances (EMAs) influenced learning outcomes
gather information, act upon it and use the results
develop a strategy by way of financial incentives
influence, promote and engage harder to reach learners who have
Disseminate findings across the Shaw Trust and with its business partners
to shape the Shaw Trust’s programmes.
What the Shaw Trust has done
Researched EMAs, and obtained information about them, including
standard leaflets as well as information from various websites.
Interviewed learners with learning disabilities and asked about financial
Interviewed non-disabled learners who were accessing EMA.
Interviewed careers advisers.
Interviewed teachers and welfare assistants who worked in sixth forms of
Interviewed parents of people with learning disabilities.
Attended seminars about adult learners.
Interviewed Shaw Trust training staff.
What has been learned?
Learners with learning difficulties could not extract the information about
EMAs if they were non-readers.
If you are unaware of it, you do not access it.
It is not arranged for you. You have to do it yourself.
Post-16 learners with disabilities often live detached from their birth
parents, and live in care. This in turn can complicate the application.
There is no peer conversation to highlight the allowance. There is no
sharing of information among fellow disabled learners about EMA.
Many learners do not have bank accounts to credit the EMA to.
Most thought it was only available for mainstream, full-time courses.
Young people who were not in employment, education or training thought
it was not available to them as they were not at school or college. These
alternative learners did not associate alternative courses as ‘education’.
Most training providers do not support learners with learning difficulties
and/or disabilities to obtain EMA allowances, which a majority may be
There is no support system for alternative training providers to finance a
support or signposting facility for learners.
Alternative training and education providers are not involved in the pilots
when a new system is being designed. They can therefore miss out on the
Where EMA was obtained, it was because a learner’s parents had taken
When the sixth form at the schools had a support mechanism, this
supported disabled learners’ applications for EMA.
What advice would the Shaw Trust give to other providers working in a similar
Money is an incentive, and can make a difference.
Providers should support learners to secure their entitlements.
Financial and other entitlements should be promoted to disabled learners,
as they enable widened participation and can make the difference
between a learner engaging in training and not engaging.
Financial entitlements procure more learners, thus adding value to training
programmes. Offering help so that learners can access entitlements can
be used as a marketing tool to widen the participation of harder to reach
learners. In turn, this is likely to increase the number of learners that you
are funded for.
2.14. Southwark Springboard Trust
report by Lucian Etienne
Our case study project enabled Springboard to have a professional and expert
access and facilities statement provided by a qualified surveyor who has
immense experience and knowledge of the Disability Discrimination Act.
We are working towards a final statement in order to implement a costed plan for
ongoing improvements to access and facilities for our buildings on Old Kent
What Springboard did
Having completed the initial action plan, we set out to obtain quotes from
consultants who specialise in the field of access and facilities audit. Jean Hewitt
from Cromer Portland was invited to both our training sites on Old Kent Road and
her proposal was acceptable, so we commissioned her to provide a full audit for
our Old Kent Road training site and a general and less detailed audit for our main
office further along the Old Kent Road, since we are currently hoping to move
from this site when more suitable training premises are obtained. We have
received verbal feedback from Jean and an extremely detailed written report.
What difficulties Springboard encountered
We found it difficult raising staff awareness of our obligations to be proactive in
meeting the requirements of our current and potential learners and visitors by
anticipating their needs.
What worked for Springboard?
Working within the given timescales and deadlines was useful. Given other
commitments at work, we were able to be realistic in the initial action plan with
What advice would Springboard give to other providers working in a similar area?
To acknowledge that there is a vast difference in one’s own in-house risk
assessment for health and safety and a qualified professional practitioner
in access audit.
Other providers will need to be aware that it is customary with any access
audit to use the customer journey as the basis of the audit trail. This would
commence with the external approach routes, including car parking and
dropping off points where these exist.
While there is no legal duty to undertake an audit, the Disability Rights
Commission recommends an access audit as the first step towards
improving access and meeting the anticipatory duties of the Disability
Discrimination Act 1995. This has been introduced in phases, and places
a duty on service and education providers to take reasonable steps to
remove barriers from the built environment which may impede access for
An access report provides evidence for a meeting of key personnel and
management staff to discuss what can be rectified and/or repaired.
Ensure that the surveyor you commission has ample experience in access
audits. It is not enough that the auditor is a fellow of the Royal Institute of
2.15. Stubbing Court Training, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
report by Belinda Turner
All employers in the horse industry want their apprentices to work to a high
standard, be reliable, follow instructions and be motivated to improve in their
work. However, this is not always the case. Less than ideal performance at work
may be due to a wide range of issues, including lack of effort, knowledge or
skills; poor attitude to work; or insufficient sense of responsibility. Poor
performance in certain aspects of work may also be because the young person
has dyslexia or dyspraxia. Approximately 15% of the population are dyslexic, and
4% are severely dyslexic.
The Stubbing Court Training case study project
In order to understand the support needs of our learners who have an
assessment of dyslexia, we set out to:
achieve a better understanding of dyslexia and its impact on learning and
conduct two case studies of learners so that we would have a better
understanding of their support requirements in our (equine) industry.
What we found out about dyslexia and its impact on learning and working
Dyslexia often affects reading, writing and spelling and may affect coordination,
ability to combine different pieces of information and sense of direction. Some
people experience difficulties with numbers and calculation.
Dyspraxia can cause difficulties with balance and co-ordination. Signs of
dyspraxia include difficulties with posture, confusing right from left, awkwardness
and difficulties with reading.
What is effective support for apprentices with dyslexia and dyspraxia?
Many apprentices have developed behavioural problems at school due to
frustration with poor performance in reading and writing, and because they have
been ‘labelled’ as having a problem. Consequently they have a negative view of
education, authority and teachers.
Dyslexia and dyspraxia cannot be cured, but effects can be minimised through
appropriate support. At work you will notice various symptoms of dyslexia or
dyspraxia on a daily basis. Effective support for apprentices to reduce the
negative effects includes:
finding ways to increase motivation to want to do well and work to a high
making work and training relevant, and directly linked to the achievement
of the qualification
encouraging good health – appropriate diet and time to eat, sufficient
sleep, suitable clothing for work
avoiding distractions – all instructions and procedures simple, clear, one
job at a time.
Below are possible ways to support and improve work performance of
apprentices in some specific areas:
Following written instructions accurately
Explain why instructions need to be followed in this order.
Give instructions in simple and clear language.
Avoid using abbreviations or specialist language.
Ask them to tell you what the instructions are.
Give instructions step by step in the order they need to be done.
Use highlighter or coloured writing to identify their specific jobs.
Write on coloured paper.
Reward and praise good performance.
Following verbal instructions accurately
Explain why instructions need to be followed in this order.
Give instructions slowly in simple and clear language.
Avoid using abbreviations or specialist language.
Ask them to repeat the instructions back to you.
Give instructions step by step; use pointers, eg first you need to…, second
Reduce the number of people giving instructions, so they are not
distracted or confused.
Reward and praise good performance.
Demonstrate the standards required.
Explain why tidiness is important.
Ask them to explain to you why tidiness is important.
Give a set time for tidying the yard, tackroom etc, so the job becomes a
Supervise and check for standards.
Reward and praise good performance.
Ensure repetition in using fine motor skills, eg plaiting.
Give apprentices opportunities to demonstrate correct procedures to
others to increase their self-awareness.
Make activities logical so that all actions can be carried out step by step.
Get apprentices to explain how they are using different parts of the body
to do a job to increase their awareness.
Reward and praise good performance.
Poor writing and spelling
Use an ICT ‘spellcheck’.
Encourage apprentices to proofread and check any written work.
Read and check work with them.
Allocate time to do written work so they are less distracted and not
thinking about other jobs that need to be done.
Reward and praise good performance.
Applying what Stubbing Court Training has learned: Case study 1
Learner A has been employed with Employer X for over 18 months. The yard is a
riding school, providing riding lessons and livery facilities. She is a ‘statemented’
dyslexic youngster who was treated as ‘thick’ at school. She was frustrated at not
being able to express herself at school and had little confidence. She has a high
level of self-awareness about her condition and the effect it has on her work. She
has severe problems with spelling and reading. She reads slowly and cannot
focus properly on the words on the page. Words seem to jump on the page,
letters ‘bounce’ or look the other way round, and some letters disappear.
Learner A dislikes reading and finds it tiring and stressful because of these
difficulties. Her reading and writing are significantly affected by tiredness and
motivation to learn. She considers motivation to be the biggest factor; she thinks
this is why she has now improved so much compared with performance at
PERFORMANCE AT WORK
Her strengths are that she:
is very conscientious and hard working
always tries hard to learn and improve
is an excellent teacher
is excellent with clients
is extremely diligent, efficient and methodical in routine tasks.
The areas for improvement associated with the disability are that she:
does not take bookings or messages because she previously made errors
in recording names and phone numbers
needs to work on tidiness on the yard
needs to work on following verbal and written instructions accurately
panics and becomes disorganised if routines change.
Recommendations for addressing the support needs are that she should:
set a time for walking round the yard to look for anything that can be
tidied; the employer should remind her to do this
have help with prioritising jobs – put on a daily lists jobs that are essential
record answerphone messages on paper for two days a week for the
employer to check
be rewarded and praised for good performance.
The impacts of the support provided are the following.
She is helped by having time set for doing the tidying round the yard. It
would be better if Learner A chose the best time to do it.
She is much happier with doing daily jobs lists in order to meet priorities –
what is essential and desirable to get done. She has a sense of
satisfaction from crossing off jobs that have been completed. It would be
best if she worked out the lists with the other members of staff involved.
She is improving her skill at making bookings – she has recorded some
messages but left them on the answerphone so that they could be
checked. Learner A has not previously recorded any messages due to
anxiety about getting them wrong, so she has appreciated the opportunity
and knows the benefits of increasing skills in administration tasks, as well
as with the horses.
Applying what Stubbing Court Training has learned: Case study 2
Learner B is employed in a top-level event yard with international rider Employer
Y. The yard is run and organised to world-class standards. Learner B has been
employed there for six months. He is a ‘statemented’ dyspraxic youngster. He is
hard working and committed to his job. The yard is very large with approximately
50 horses and nine staff. There are a wide range of jobs and activities to be done
during the day, with horses going to competitions up to three times per week. He
has a high level of self-awareness about his condition and the effect it has on his
work. He has problems reading, but he thinks he has improved since leaving
He has crashed his car twice recently. He has great difficulty in following
PERFORMANCE AT WORK
His strengths are that he is:
good at working under pressure and within tight timescales
good at following verbal instructions from his employer for both routine
and unusual jobs and situations, eg at events
adaptable and willing to help with all aspects of running the yard and at
Areas for improvement associated with the disability are that he:
is easily distracted and confused if he has instructions from more than one
person on the yard
needs to learn to follow more complex lists of instructions, not just the
ones he wants to do
should be willing and compliant with instructions given by his supervisor;
he only has respect for his employer
is untidy and forgets to put tools and equipment away after use.
Recommendations for addressing the support needs are that:
he should have a separate book to show his jobs clearly, so that it is
quicker to identify them and he is less distracted by other items on the
he should be allocated his own horses that he is responsible for
he should have a wipeboard showing a map of the stables to help him to
remember which horse lives in which stable
he should be given a verbal warning about the importance of respecting
and following the supervisor’s instructions, not just the employer’s
the supervisor should be advised of ways of supporting Learner B,
including only allocating one job at a time, with a list on the board of the
jobs in the order they need to be done
he should be allocated a bag with labelled grooming kit so everyone
knows which are his
he should have time allocated daily for tidying
he should be rewarded and praised for good performance.
The impacts of the support provided are that:
it is very helpful having a book containing only Learner B’s jobs
the wipeboard showing which horse lives in which stable is helpful for
Learner B to remember and also other staff find it useful
he is helped by having his own horses to be responsible for, so is less
distracted by other jobs or horses that also need attention
his performance improved for a few days, then previous attitude problems
2.16. Other projects
Three further project reports were submitted after this overall report had been
completed. One case study site was unable to complete their project. All project
reports are listed together on the DDA section of the Learning and Skills Network
3. Lessons learned: perspectives within WBL
The nineteen projects have demonstrated the diversity and pragmatism of work-
based learning Providers in the learning and skills sector as well as exposing
some of the difficult realities that work-based learning providers are managing.
As we have seen, the projects represent a range of occupational areas, their
learners have a broad experience of disability and learning difficulty and the case
study topics have been diverse. The richness of this experience has engendered
multifaceted responses to our research aims of looking at what happens when
disabled people are included in work-based learning and our attempt to identify,
through the project, the forms of support needed by Provider staff so that they
can successfully meet learners’ needs.
The case study projects gave Provider managers and staff opportunities to build
up areas of their work which they had identified as being in need of development.
But we also needed to explore what happened in the 19 projects in order to see
more closely what has been happening. We then needed to interrogate the
research findings to see what lessons could be learned from these experiences
for the work-based learning sector as a whole.
Key themes have been identified by the Provider-researchers working
collaboratively with the consultancy team, including LSDA staff. These themes
were used as markers for analysis of the interim reports from case study sites,
and have been developed and modified in response to the final reports. The
themes are used as the headings for each of the sections below.
The key themes that emerged from the case study projects are:
initial and ongoing assessment
listening to learners
working with employers
Barriers to access
Data from the research projects clearly demonstrate that barriers that people with
disabilities face in work-based learning are more likely to be attitudinal and social
rather than physical, although physical barriers do still exist, of course. No matter
what type of barrier a learner faces, the result will be a less-than-effective
learning experience. Sometimes attitudinal barriers will seem perfectly
reasonable when viewed from one perspective, but when viewed from a different
angle, the light dawns and the task of identifying a reasonable adjustment
Some barriers to learning are posed by policy measures within the learning and
skills sector and in the benefits system.
The qualifications framework was seen to be a barrier for many learners,
particularly those with learning difficulties who might be very competent in
the practical and creative aspects of a learning programme but unable to
demonstrate their understanding of the theoretical elements. Examples of
this can be found in people working in the area of film making.
Although there have been some welcome changes to the benefits system
recently, some people with learning difficulties experience problems in the
relationship between their entitlement to benefits and their employment
income. There appear to be difficulties in obtaining knowledgeable advice.
Several WBL providers told us that in some ways things have become more
difficult since the coming of the DDA because some employers only look at the
‘reasonable adjustments’ issue and not a the broader duty they have not to
discriminate. Providers told us that many employers are not aware of ‘Access to
Work’ resources which may pay for reasonable adjustments.
One of the major barriers to changing attitudes and creating a positive
environment for disabled learners was the lack of a context in which providers
could work together. Some Providers spoke of their willingness to form
partnerships and federations to support each other and develop their sector,
share resources, specialist staff and have a forum for sharing ideas. This, the
Providers told us, would help provide a more successful image for work-based
learning. For example, one research project has been seeking to work with
employers to develop the business case for employing disabled people and has
found it difficult to do so. However, in making the attempt, the project coordinator
discovered an array of local and regional individuals and organisations eager to
assist. This project has learned that sometimes overcoming barriers cannot be
achieved by one person or one organisation working alone. In planning the next
attempt to raise awareness among employers, the coordinator of this case study
project has secured the help of a number of organisations working in partnership
There is a concern among work-based learning Providers that their provision is
not marketed in ways that promotes the work they put into supporting all young
people including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Providers told
us that because they are small organisations competing with ‘big boys’ they did
not want to ‘rock the boat’ if they were compared unfavourably.
Providers told us they are concerned that their lack of a ‘star’ profile means that
work-based learning is not seen as an exciting choice for young people, yet
across the projects in the present study (and in the DVD Proper Hard Work) we
have seen young people thriving, learning and working, achieving their learning
goals and meeting their career aspirations. The profile of work-based learning
needs a champion and its potential for developing young people’s vocational
skills needs to be further developed.
Providers and learners told us often about their encounters with people whose
attitudes lead to stereotyping, which in turn forms barriers to learning. One
example was of a learner using a wheelchair being directed along a particular
career path by a Connexions adviser who assumed that a particular occupational
area was best for people with her particular disability. There is a further example
in the DVD Proper Hard Work where a learner reports that she received a reply
from an employer to her application for cabin crew training saying that because
she was deaf she couldn’t be accepted as cabin crew. The learner was denied
her choice of career without being able to demonstrate her abilities. What the
employer should have done was to ascertain that the candidate satisfied the
criteria for the job such as qualifications and experience. In the case of cabin
crew, for example, the employer could have invited the applicant for a discussion
about the job and conducted a through assessment of the requirements of the
role to see what adjustments could be reasonably made to enable the candidate
to carry out the role effectively. If the adjustments were judged reasonable, then
the candidate could have been invited to interview as would be the case for other
In certain cases it was felt that barriers to access were caused by guidance
workers. One Provider told us that all disabled learners in the area were being
systematically sent to a specialist Provider regardless of the career aspirations of
individuals. The implication was that adequate initial assessments were not being
conducted, and that decisions were being taken on assumptions about what is
best for disabled people rather than on their career plans. However, when this
matter was placed before a member of Connexions staff, we were asked ‘has the
Provider spoken to us about this?’ The message here is about building good
communications between the different parties, eg between Providers,
Connexions, schools and colleges.
One attitudinal barrier identified in the research projects centres on areas where
WBL Providers do not act as a group to combine forces to share information and
resources. Providers told us that the atmosphere of competition was creating
barriers within the sector and that these barriers were preventing the sector from
developing a mature approach to learning, learner support and collaborating on
such things as shared learning resources or a pool of shared (expensive)
Issues around physical access to learning have been a recurring feature in the
case study research projects. This is a difficult area for cash-strapped Providers
either because of the costs involved or because they do not know what to do or
where to go for assistance.
Many Providers felt they didn’t have the capacity to provide quality provision as
well as the colleges.
Some WBL provision takes place in ready-made integrated environments, while
some Providers told us of the difficulties (eg finances, use of old buildings) they
face in making their environments accessible.
Buildings are often overlooked as a resource. Providers with old buildings and
other expensive overheads told us that ensuring sufficient funding resources can
be a perpetual and energy-sapping worry. This is highlighted at several
Providers’ premises, where local authorities allocate premises to the voluntary
sector for WBL projects, particularly in one case where the DDA was not invoked
with regards to the premises in question.
Initial and ongoing assessment
Assessment was a particular area where all concerned – Providers, project
consultants and LSDA research staff – reported a great need for considerable
developmental work across the sector. It was noted during analysis of case study
data that some Providers seem to be making assumptions about learners’ needs
and the adjustments they require (possibly based on the Provider’s knowledge of
previous learners with whom they have worked) rather than conducting individual
assessments. Project consultants also noted that different Providers had different
definitions of ‘assessment’ and used assessment procedures or materials they
were already familiar with, or which were easily available to them, rather than
assessments that were pertinent to the occupational area, the learning
programme, the learner and the learner’s disability in the context of all of these
other factors. Providers told us that it would be helpful if mechanisms existed by
which information from previous assessments (eg at school) could be
communicated to WBL Providers. This would give Providers a starting point for
their own assessments, although they stressed that assessments need to link
into the requirements of the learners’ occupations as well as their ability to
demonstrate competence in key skills.
We were also told by Providers of their need to network with each other in order
to share information, for example about the sources of outside help such as
dyslexia assessments or where to obtain specialist equipment. Below are
examples of pragmatic solutions to the problem of carrying out assessments from
some of the case study projects.
At Rewards TRC at Haywards Heath, Sussex, it was recognised that the
expertise the company sought for carrying out initial assessment was not
available internally, so they contracted externally with City College,
Brighton and Hove where both expertise and experience in assessment
KM Training in Derby conducts its initial assessments online, which makes
the process exciting for many learners but there is some concern that
working online does not suit everybody. Some young people have not had
relevant IT training, for example, and may be unsure as to what is
expected of them.
Small Providers are unlikely to have the full range of expertise required to
carry out assessments in-house. So, in order that all this information
should be shared, one case study project site, the Nottingham Training
Network, has provided information sheets (eg about different disabilities
and their impact on learning and working), together with instruments that
can be used for assessment and web addresses of organisations where
Providers can obtain specialist support.
Placing the learners right at the centre of their planning, the YMCA at
Stowmarket has been encouraging learners’ to keep a ‘learning and work
journal’ as a source of information that they can feed into decision making
about the kinds of support required.
Listening to learners
In the conduct of their research projects, some of the participating Providers used
a wide range of mechanisms that enabled their learners to contribute to the
planning of provision and to participate in the research projects. It was pointed
out by one of the Manchester case study project sites that the LSC’s Guidance
for Providers doesn’t emphasise the need to consult with learners and nor is
there any information about how to use the feedback should one obtain it.
How to obtain and use learner feedback was a common concern among case
study project Providers. This was so even among those Providers above who
have been attempting to obtain and use learners’ feedback. For example
Providers often felt unsure about how to talk to disabled learners for fear of being
insensitive to personal circumstances or experiences. Some Providers said they
were unsure about how to provide learners with feedback and linked with this
was a general observation about a lack of staff awareness of learners’
experiences and the capacity of WBL staff to listen professionally to learners.
Despite these concerns, some of the case study project sites have staff with
experience of listening to learners who have developed their listening skills. They
offered some tips about good practice.
There is a need to provide opportunities to listen to the learner at every
stage of a programme; just because things were going well at a previous
stage is no guarantee that they will continue to do so at a later stage.
Learners may become more willing to talk frankly about their experiences
some time after commencing a programme rather than wishing to be
completely open at the very beginning.
Providers with developed practice for listening to learners told us that they use a
range of mechanisms, including message boards, emails and text message, thus
opening up opportunities for people to provide feedback and information in a
format that matches their own communications preference and style. Some
examples are given below.
At Acorn Initiative in Nottinghamshire, learners have been making a film to
promote ‘Entry to Employment’. Learners discussed issues facing them
and their reasons for joining the Acorn Initiative project. The learners
devised a questionnaire and responses to make decisions about what
topics their film needed to cover, in particular the reasons why people
enrol on to E2E, what they get out of the programme, and about their
aspirations for progression. During the research project, some of the
learners initially found it difficult to be filmed for fear of losing face, but with
support from staff and other learners, they overcame their reluctance to
appear before the camera and talk about their experiences.
At Carousel in Brighton, learners filmed their regular team meetings as a
form of minute taking for later reference and learning.
Learners at North Downham Training formed a user group to provide
regular feedback to the project’s organisers.
At the YMCA in Stowmarket, a learner recounted her experiences for six
weeks in a journal, which is being used as a tool for staff development.
The learner maintained her diary and reviewed it weekly with staff to
identify barriers and to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the
learning programme. Staff recognise the value of this exercise for both
staff development and for developing a more complete profile of the
KM Training conducted a survey to find out what worked and what didn’t
work for learners.
As part of its regular working practice, Nottinghamshire Training Network
(NTN) conducts learners’ surveys and has recently surveyed learners with
disabilities about their use of IT and its value to them in their learning. The
information gathered is used by NTN for monitoring purposes and for
planning future provision.
Overall, policy development among the Providers taking part in the case study
projects was acknowledged to be weak by the Providers themselves. Colleagues
from one of the projects told us:
There is a legal framework, therefore there are things that employers and
Providers know they can do to address issues affecting learners and
employees with impairments. We know we are not allowed to discriminate
on grounds of disability and we know that we will be discriminating if we do
not make reasonable adjustments. However, we are not always sure what
reasonable adjustments can be made. And we are not always aware as to
what constitutes a reasonable adjustment. So we may be discriminating
even if we think we’re not.
Providers recognise that responding to the requirements of the DDA required a
whole organisational approach, including drawing up new policies as well as
ensuring that existing policies are inclusive of the requirements of disabled
learners. They also told us of the importance of ensuring that staff policies, such
as appraisal and induction, emphasise disability issues and draw out the range of
different skills and knowledge that staff have (eg knowledge of community
languages or musical ability).
Providers understand why they need policies, and that they need to write those
policies down so that everyone in their company would understand company
procedures and what their roles were in different circumstances. On the other
hand, Providers also told us that they were unsure about how to draw up holistic
policies that draw together the things they wanted to do for individual learners,
risk assessment, health and safety, LSC impact measures and other policy areas
they needed to work within. This is both a capacity issue regarding staff
expertise, particularly for small Providers, as well as a time concern as many
Providers told us they just couldn’t spare a member of staff to do detailed work
on policy development.
Some Providers are anxious about what the impact will be on them of the
disability equality duty that will require LSCs to promote equality for disabled
people. There is concern about how to implement policies across national
organisations with local branches and who should be responsible.
There is a pressing need for DDA-related capacity building for managers in the
At the case study sites most of the adjustments made for learners and
employees with disabilities have been at very little or no cost. For example at Dr
B’s in Harrogate, one learner uses a drawing of a place setting as an aide
memoire or visual aid to show him where to place knives and forks and, as a
bonus, to help him learn right and left sides.
Providers told us that they seek expert advice before making adjustments that
may be expensive because ‘mistakes are too costly and can be avoided if
research is undertaken’. Some Providers told us that where possible they look for
single solutions, something straightforward and easy to obtain. They told us that
they had found that portable equipment is cost-effective because it can be used
in a range of locations.
One of the case study sites advised that Providers understand the legal
implications of some of the adjustments they make so that the Provider is not
infringing any law. Examples given include regulations for use of service lifts,
ensuring that adjustments adhere to legal norms and standards, and ensuring
that equipment and procedures do not contravene health and safety legislation.
Providers told us they were aware of the need to bear in mind that they risk legal
proceedings if they do not make necessary reasonable adjustments and several
told us that in their experience adjustments are generally good for everyone. For
instance, clear signage improves communications and keeping corridors clear of
clutter makes the work area safe for everybody, not only for people with visual or
physical impairments. One Provider also observed that making reasonable
adjustments applies to employers as well as to Providers and that where an
employer does not make an adjustment, the Provider has a duty to point this out.
Within tight budgets, Providers’ skilled management of their resources is a vital
task. From their case study research Providers came up with an interesting range
of ideas for identifying resource requirements and managing them in such as way
as to make best use of them. From the research, examples include the following.
Breakaway Supported Employment worked in partnership with Central
Sussex College, with which they also pooled resources and staff expertise
to support learners. Partnership working also provided opportunities for
staff from each organisation to learn the effective use of each other’s
One type of resource that was particularly mentioned was IT. Several
people working at different Providers told us that not everyone is aware of
the full range of tasks that their software packages can do. For example,
some word-processing software has an electronic reading facility. Thus IT
packages are under-used and unnecessary additional purchases may be
made that duplicate functions of software already owned.
Another message about resources concerns linking them to initial and
ongoing assessment and not assuming that IT solutions are the best
solution for everyone, for example not automatically using online
assessments for people with dyslexia. It may work for some, but certainly
not for all. A Provider may be inadvertently building in failure by using a
particular resource just because they have it and not thinking through
whether or not it will effectively perform the task needing to be done.
Tied into a large regional organisation, the two case study sites in
Manchester demonstrated the value of being part of a well-resourced
network. There are plenty of opportunities to borrow equipment, join in on
capacity-building activities, work alongside others and learn from them,
receive information about the latest developments and have colleagues
with whom to discuss implications, have access to a basic range of
resources and people with the knowledge about how to use them. Also, a
factor that was raised repeatedly across the research projects, there were
opportunities for access to specialists for assessments (eg dyslexia
assessment), and support (eg formal and informal staff mentoring) and
technology (eg how a particular piece of specialist equipment works and
how it might be used in learning and working).
However, there were difficult areas. It was very clear at one Provider that lack of
resources was severely affecting the quality of provision at every level from
learners’ experiences through to staff morale. Two of the research projects had
severe premises problems: old buildings, lots of corridors and rooms, basement
work areas that let in no light, cluttered hallways and corridors, vermin, and no
staff with specialist expertise to audit the premises. At one Provider, staff used a
home-made audit tool, resulting in them recommending a wheelchair ramp with a
dangerously steep 1:3 drop.
Working with employers
A particular concern that emerged in several case study projects was ‘employer
engagement’. It is very common for Providers to find it difficult, and often
impossible, to find employers willing to employ someone with an impairment. A
number of the projects had employer engagement as a theme in their research.
In Sussex, a consortium is forming to carry out research and actively seek
out employers interested in engaging with their agenda to increase
employment opportunities for people with disabilities and learning
Some Providers have prepared ‘straight talking’ materials containing
advice for employers on equal opportunities.
In Chesterfield, Stubbing Court Training collaborates with high profile
‘names’ in the equestrian world to encourage other employers in their
industry to work with people with disabilities.
Providers told us that it is important to:
identify skills shortages, as these are gaps in the labour market that need
to be filled
identify business needs for the next 10 years and see what opportunities
there are for disabled people
work with employers to identify DDA-related training needs
use information about labour market needs to inform routes into
employment for disabled people
always, always think about, develop and promote the business case for
employing disabled people.
Embedding, recommendations and future developments
Providers told us they wish to influence the sector, the LSC and the wider
learning and skills community. Here are the suggestions about next steps for
developing the WBL sector’s work in the context of the DDA from the Provider
case study project coordinators.
The Learning and Skills Network will ensure:
publication and dissemination of the materials from the 19 projects
publication, dissemination and use of the Proper Hard Work DVD and CD-
publication and dissemination of resources at local and national level.
Providers need to:
ensure the best use of what this project has produced
identify what local resources there are to ensure that this work is carried
identify what national resources there are to ensure that this work is
build in an appropriate research methodology as a way of continuing to
develop and disseminate knowledge and practice in WBL
develop a particular WBL ethos, including for:
o policy development
o procedural arrangements
o staff training and policy development
o networks for resources
o going out of sector for specialist help
o consulting with learners
o joint training with other agencies
o engaging with employers
o managing partnerships.
Providers would like the LSC to:
work with WBL Providers to look at the outcomes of this project and
develop the above items
consider ‘top-slicing’ funds to provide training across an LSC region or