Demand for places at a specialist college in North Yorkshire has seen student numbers increase by 50 per cent this academic year.
Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate offers educational programmes to prepare young people with disabilities and learning difficulties for an independent adulthood. The rise follows an increasing focus by the College on the needs of disabled students and how to ensure they reach their potential through learning a wide range of skills for life, living and employment.
Principal Angela North said: While general FE colleges can and do work with disabled students, some have very complex needs and what we offer is distinct and different to ensure they can continue to progress through education, in some case enabling a transition to mainstream college and employment.
We work with local authorities across the Yorkshire region and beyond to develop appropriate strategies for special school leavers to help them prepare for fulfilling lives as adults and I am delighted that our strength and skills have been recognised with this increase in student numbers.
Historically, Henshaws Specialist College worked with students with visual impairment but its services have developed to support students with a wide range of conditions, including launching Starting Point, a service for students with autism, last year.
Its students are aged from 16 to 25 and all courses are designed to help them to reach their full potential and level of independence. The College prepares many young people for the workplace and has achieved its first supported internship this year.
While based in Harrogate, the College is preparing and taking applications for an outreach centre in Bradford and is looking at other opportunities in the region to enable it to provide education and training for as many young people as possible.
The College works closely with its own and neighbouring local authorities, professionals, schools and parents in developing highly individualised, specialist opportunities for special school leavers. Their recent involvement in the North Yorkshire SEND review has offered potential solutions in some of the key areas of need across the county including Selby, as well as developing the College to accommodate a more diverse and growing population.
The College will continue to work closely with the LA to improve the accessibility of information and raise awareness of the support available in North Yorkshire for this more vulnerable group of school leavers, to support their objectives following the recent joint Ofsted and CQC Inspection of their services.
Angela North said: We work with students from across North Yorkshire and beyond and, having recognised the growth in diagnosis of autism, we have added a specialist service through Starting Point in addition to the evolution of more local solutions for local people.
We believe that our offer is unique and can be life changing for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families across the north of England and we would welcome any initiative to ensure that families are more aware of the support we can offer.