Bedford College - Supported Learning Provision

What our service does

The service aims to support young people into adulthood through a specialist curriculum within a mainstream setting. Students undertaking courses within the Foundation area have the opportunity to develop their independent living skills within our specialist flat; access the community via our excellent location within Bedford town centre; continue to develop their numeracy and literacy skills across the curriculum. Full time programmes consist of opportunities for students to:

• Develop their work skills by undertaking a weekly supported work placement and dedicated session to support their understanding of the world of work.
• The opportunity to undertake one or more option/s which meet their personal interest and/or career aspirations. These are delivered within specialist facilities by vocational staff with experience of working with young people with additional needs.
• All students will have a dedicated Personal Tutor who works with the student and liaises with parents/carers and other agencies to promote achievement and well-being.

The days and times of our services are unfortunately limited by government funding. Full time programmes for young people aged 16-18 are delivered over 4 days for 32 weeks of the year. Full time programmes for young people aged 19+ over 5 days per week between 10.30-3.00. Students access supported for full time programmes for up to 3 years.

Progression routes for young people from our supported courses are varied with students progressing onto level one or two courses cross college, gaining employment to undertaking a varied programme supported through social care which may include one day a week at college and continuation of their work placement. Student’s progress is regularly reviewed and discussed with the student, parent/carers and relevant agencies to support young people to support transition into adulthood.

Location of our service

Our services are located within Bedford College main site on Cauldwell Street in Bedford. The students also have access one day per week to our specialist animal care facilities and staff located at our Shuttleworth site in Old Warden. The service remains the same across the authority.

Who our service provides for

Within our supported courses for young people with an identified learning difficulty and/or disability we have two full time programmes, the Foundation Skills Programme which supports young people aged 16-18 and our Steps to Independence programme for young people aged 19-25 years old. We also have a part time offer for young people and adults aged 19+.

Young people are assessed prior to the college accepting them to ensure that their individual needs and aspirations can be met. The college works closely with the Local Authority, school s, parents/carers and young people to ensure we have the information we need to make a judgement.

Currently we are unable to meet the needs of those young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

How to start using our service

Personal budgets are accepted by the college to purchase services.

There are no waiting lists. Please feel free to contact us anytime should you wish to have a look round or come in for a chat!
(Julie Lyon, 01234 291374, or Katrina O’Brien, 01234 291652,

A direct application can be made for the Foundation Skills Programme via the Bedford College website at Students are also referred through schools and Local Authority SEN Personal Advisors. There is a small charge of £20 which contributes towards trips undertaken during the year. Students can request to attend a taster day within college via

Students attending the Steps to Independence Programme are referred to the college via their SEN Personal Advisor, after which an assessment is arranged, this assessment can take place either within the college or school depending on the individual. Students and parents/carers are invited to come into college to look around and discuss the college offer. On acceptance of a place students are invited into two taster sessions during the summer term in preparation for attending within the new academic year. Further to this they have the opportunity to attend informal ‘meet and greet’ mornings during the summer.

How decisions are made about who can use our service

Students applying for the Foundation Skills Programme are interviewed and assessed as to whether the programme is suitable for them through an open and transparent interview process; decisions made will be based upon prior attainment and need.

The costs for those students accessing our Steps to Independence programme require the college to apply to the local education panel and decisions are based on assessed information provided, the college and the Local Authority work closely with young people, parents and carers to ensure they are aware of the process and kept up to date with regard to outcomes.

How we communicate with our service users

There are a number of ways that the college seeks student’s views which include regular student representative meetings, focus groups and student meetings with the Senior Management to gain feedback to improve ours services and provision, alongside parent/carer questionnaires.

We have a specialist Deaf Co-ordinator and a large team of Communication Support Workers, alongside a specialist Autism Co-ordinator. All staff working with the supported learning area have undertaken basic signing and are supported by our Deaf Co-ordinator. The area utilise Widgit software to support teaching and communication.

All students have a Personal Tutor who maintains links between home and college.

Student reports are shared regularly with parents/carers and young people. For our Foundation Skills Programme there are twice yearly parent/carer evenings.

Our Steps to Independence students have a daily communication book in which both the tutors and support staff provide daily feedback. They also attend regular annual reviews to review progress and plan for the future.

Accessibility of our service

The environment is wheelchair accessible and there are hearing loops in place or available portably on all sites. There are disabled toilets and changing facilities. Within the supported learning course the students are supported by staff whilst on site, which includes to and from transport, during breaks and lunchtimes. All college students have access to all the services the college provides and are made aware of these during induction and throughout the programme, where required students are supported to access these services.

Qualifications and training of our staff

All staff working within the area of supported learning have experience of working with young people with an identified learning difficulty and/or disability, but are also committed and to training and supporting new staff to enter into the profession. The college has piloted the SEN Level 5 Additional Needs qualification for post 16 staff which has been well attended by staff both cross college and within the supported learning department, alongside launching a new specialist PGCE course beginning in September, 2014.

All teaching staff employed at the college have a commitment to undertake the post 16 PGCE qualification.

Staff working in a Learning Support role come from a mix of education and care settings.

Staff regularly undertake staff development throughout the year, both internally and externally to support the needs of staff. Some training is undertaken centrally and focusses upon teaching and learning whilst other training is specific to the area.

General Contact Information

If you would like further information or to come into look around then please contact either Julie Lyon, 01234 291374, or Katrina O’Brien, 01234 291652,

Contact for more information

Katrina O'Brien
Assistant Director – Foundation and Additional Support
Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AH
01234 291652
Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday 8.30-10.00 (Term Time)
Monday- Friday 8.30-7.00 (Out of term)