Sheffield City Council is reviewing the way students with learning difficulties and disabilities access specialist post-16 provision.
At the moment, how many days per week a student with moderate/severe learning difficulties will spend in post-16 education is largely determined by the type of setting they attended for their pre-16 education. Students who stay on at Talbot, Seven Hills or Bents Green (the only special schools with sixth forms in Sheffield) currently receive five days of education per week. By contrast, students with learning difficulties who transfer to a foundation learning programme at a general further education provider (e.g. the Practical Skills courses run by Sheffield College), usually find that their provision drops down to three days per week.
This inequity is due to the way how funding was distributed in the past. The funding system, however, will change in April 2013, when local authorities will be put in charge of allocating post-16 funding to providers via a banding system.
Sheffield City Council wants to use this opportunity to make the system fairer for all students. This may mean moving towards a four-day week in post-16 specialist education, with – possibly – some employment-related or leisure activity on the fifth day. To achieve this, the Council plans to develop the capacity of a wider range of providers, including the voluntary and community sector.