When ILS students finish their ILS studies, they often progress to mainstream courses, but also in mainstream there may be other learners with ALN (Additional Learning Needs) who have not been through an ILS course. These other learners may not have had the benefit or experience of the additional courses or skills taught to ILS learners, such as how to manage relationships, parenting awareness, rights and responsibilities, healthy eating & living among many others. This is something which should be an essential right, and a key driver as part of equal opportunities, thus, we feel it should be written into the Welsh curriculum.
When we think of FE/HE curriculum we often ask: “How can we assure that people are equipped with the necessary skills for the future?” The best way to ensure such a thing is to ensure that subjects that prepare those in FE/HE to cope in the real world are also made available.
For example, far too often students go into College and Uni with no idea how to cook even basic meals, resulting in too many takeaways, which in turn adds to the current physical/mental health crisis. Often, these same students would have no idea how to pay their rent, budget for food or other necessities, or even ironing their clothes.
We acknowledge that in general terms basic living skills are often taught to students through parenting. However, this is based on an assumption that our students and parental circumstances are similar. Of course, this is often not the case, and this fact should be considered for all learners.
Furthermore, many students with a disability or ALN may not be on a specialist/ILS course, but could benefit from training in these subjects; e.g. a learner with autism could study on a course alongside students without disabilities with a little extra help from the ALN department, but struggle and need extra assistance learning how to use an oven safely.
For this reason, we feel it's important that ILS subjects are made available across all courses in FE and undergraduate courses in HE, so that students and ALN students in mainstream can access those vital life skills ensuring that all students have the same opportunities.
Natspec [The Association of National Specialist Colleges] describe ILS subjects as enabling:
“... students to develop their knowledge of and skills in areas such as keeping safe, being healthy, looking after their own home, and dealing with problems. Students would also have the opportunity to take units of learning relating to aspects of the wider community, such as getting out and about and going places, getting on with other people, rights and responsibilities, and encountering experiences.”
Making the 15 core skills available to mainstream, as well as ILS in 6th form/FE/HE, would be a progressive development in this to support equality throughout Welsh Curriculum for post 16 education. Our call for this at Coleg Cambria is already working on a continuous improvement action plan led by our Inclusion Manager; this would be a key enabler for upskilling and training staff for mainstream as well as ILS.
Natspec’s 15 core areas used in example colleges:
We think that these should also be made available for our 6th form, FE and HE students across Wales, as all our students at some point will need to deal with each of those areas; knowing how to use those skills is critical for success in life and employment.
By teaching these in college and/or uni, you would help students be better prepared for coping in the world at large. This will lead to a More Equal Wales.