Thursday
Apr272017

The Story of Me - exhibition until end of April

 

Don't miss 'The Story of Me' Exhibition - a collection of images and writings created by young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities from the West of England Centre for Inclusive Living, (W.E.C.I.L) and B.C.C youth groups. It runs until the end of April at the Gallery, The Station, Silver Street, Central Bristol.

 

Thursday
Apr062017

Employability Advice Line

As part of the BBO (Building Better Opportunities) contract WECIL are now running an Employability Advice Line, open Monday to Friday: 0117 961 7909.  The Line provides over-the-phone support for disabled people living in Bristol, South Gloucester, North Somerset and BANES.  WECIL specialist advisors provide employment related advice across the following areas:  

  • Handling the ‘disclosure’ of an impairment with an existing or potential employers
  • Signposting to useful services and opportunities
  • Information on Access to Work and how the fund can support you in your employment and your employer to make the correct adjustments
  • Advice about any potential issues that are arising in the work place and where to go for help
  • Advice on ‘in work’ benefits 

You can also email at: employability@wecil.co.uk

Wednesday
Dec072016

Post 16 Transport - Stuck in A Jam

Policy Changes

Local Authorities across England are facing huge cuts in funding. School transport, particularly for students with SEND, forms a huge part of local authority expenditure. The policy changes in the Local Authorities reflect changes made to national policy in 2014. In response to this Barrister Steve Broach, wrotein his blog “School Transport No Right To Education if You Can’t Get There” (March 2015) that he knows of “at least one Local Authority where expenditure on SEN transport exceeds the amount spent on SEN provision – by some way.”

Local Authorities also need to consider Government initiatives to increase the number of people walking, cycling and using public transport and they need to support young people into independent living by, for example, offering travel training.

However, there are social care duties to make sure that disabled children and young adults can access education. Steve Broach also points out that “all cuts decisions must be taken in accordance with the public sector equality duty in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, which requires ‘due regard’ to be given to a series of specified needs. The most relevant need in such a case is likely to be the need to ‘advance equality of opportunity’ for disabled people compared with others (see section 149(1)(b)).”

Young People’s Rights:

Here are some examples of local authority post 16 travel policy statements (TPS) and what laws apply:

TPS Statement 1: You should note that your Local Authority is under no obligation to provide travel support for students attending further education establishments.

Law: This depends on whether or not the young person has a disability that limits their ability to travel to their college or training provider. For young people under the age of 18,section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (section 2(1)(c) ) requires Local Authorities to provide ‘assistance to [a disabled person] in taking advantage of educational facilities available to him’. According to Broach “This duty arises where it is ‘necessary’ for a Local Authority to provide a service under the CSDPA to meet a person’s needs.”

For young people over the age of 18 there are similar duties under the Care Act 2014.

IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice) have a helpful question and answer section on their website about transport. They state that: “When assessing what transport arrangements or financial assistance may be required, the LA should consider the needs of the most vulnerable or socially excluded learners. The needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities should be specifically considered and the arrangements in place for each group must be documented in the Transport Policy Statement (para 13.1).”

TPS Statement 2:The Local Authority may exercise its discretion, where they believe it appropriate, to ask students, parents and carers for a contribution towards travel costs.

Law: The document “Home to school travel for pupils requiring special arrangements 2004” appears to still be in use by the DfE and this states that mobility benefits may be used to pay towards transport. However, Cerebra point out that it is unlawful for Local Authorities to refuse to provide any transport to an eligible young person transport because they receive DLA.

Contact A Family can offer further advice on DLA for young people.

TPS Statement 3:The nature and mode of travel support will be determined by the Local Authority and will be one that is consistent with the Local Authority’s duty to secure Value for Money. Taxi and minibus transport will be provided only where there is no feasible alternative.

Law: Where a young person is considered eligible for support with travel the “Home to School Travel for Pupils Requiring Special Arrangements” needs to be considered. This includes ensuring that journey times are reasonable to avoid undue stress. IPSEA also give examples of case laws that makes it implicit that the transport provided by the LA should be “non-stressful” if the child/young person was to benefit from education.

How to Challenge decisions:

If a young person thinks they should be eligible for support with transport their local transport policy should give details of how to appeal to transport decisions.

Planning Ahead:

Good quality transition planning can help avoid transport issues. Transport should be considered at EHCP and statement reviews. Travel training is best started early and local schools are starting to offer this as part of preparation for college. Travel training planning needs to be individualised rather than following blanket policies such as only offering travel training for a set number of weeks.

We know that public transport issues can limit young people’s ability to travel independently and the councils shouldconsider the views and experiences of young people with disabilities when making public transport decisions.

We have been feeding back young people’s experiences of transport issues where appropriate and we can support young people with SEND to understand their rights if transport issues are preventing them from accessing college or training. If you have issues you would like raised to your local council you can also contact your local parent carer forums.

Useful links:

FLARE Blog (young people's advisory group blog)

Steve Broach's Blog

IPSEA FAQ’s on Transport

Cerebra’s transport guide

Contact A Family DLA Mobility

 

Monday
Nov212016

Until the end of November, the NAS are offering their interactive workbook "Finding Work" free for download.

Finding work is a job searching and work preparation handbook for employment professionals and autistic people (including those with Asperger syndrome). To coincide with the launch of the new film, which highlights the difficulties autistic people experience often face getting work, we are giving this resource away for free until the end of November.

 You can find the link here:

 http://www.autism.org.uk/about/adult-life/work.aspx

Monday
Oct312016

Good practice in supporting disabled learners

Disability Rights UK is developing a toolkit of resources for education providers to showcase good practice in supporting disabled learners to make the transition to internships and paid employment. Two sets of materials are now available, made in partnership with National Star College and Seevic College in 2016. View the toolkit