If you are aged between 16 and 19 you can study at school, or at a college providing further education.
It’s important to think about the things you may need because of your disability or learning difficulty. For example, a support teacher, specialist equipment or choosing the right place to study.
Your options include staying on at school, going to a sixth form college, going to a further education college or work-based training.
Staying on at school
You can often remain at your school or transfer to a different one if your current school doesn’t offer the range of courses you want to study.
If you have a statement of special educational needs it will continue until you leave school.
Some schools run link courses at further education colleges. This lets you see what college life is like by attending a day or two a week.
Going to a sixth form college
Sixth form colleges can offer a wider range of options than your school’s sixth form. As they offer more independence, they can also give you the skills needed for the workplace or university.
Going to further education college
Further education (FE) colleges normally offer a wide range of courses including academic courses, for example, A-levels and vocational (work-based) courses.
They receive most of their funding from government and are often called ‘maintained’ or ‘sector’ colleges.
Most further education colleges allow you to combine learning at college with learning at home. This can be useful if it’s hard to get to college because of the nature of your disability.
Going to a specialist college
If your local college cannot offer a course to suit your disability-related needs, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) should consider funding a place for you at another more suitable college.
Most of these colleges are independent and are specifically for students with disabilities or learning difficulties. These are called ‘specialist’ colleges and are often residential.
If the LSC decide that your needs can only be met by going to a specialist residential college, they have a duty to fund your place there.
All 16 and 17 year-olds who are not in full-time education or employment are guaranteed a suitable work-based training place.
This applies to those over 18 if entry has been delayed due to disability or a health problem.
Most work-based training for young people is delivered through the Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme.
Funding and money
The Learning and Skills Council and your local education authority (LEA) are responsible for the cost of full-time education for people up to the age of 19
Because of this, you will not be able to receive Disabled Students’ Allowance.
You may be able to receive some financial support while studying in further education. Some colleges have funding schemes to help you while you are there.
Disability Living Allowance
If you receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) it will not be affected unless you go to a residential college, in which case you would lose the ‘care’ part of DLA. You would, however, receive a payment when you return home at weekends or for holidays and you would still receive the ‘mobility’ part of DLA.
Loans and support funds
The Student Loan Scheme does not apply to students in further education.
However, some colleges have money available in ‘Learner Support Funds’ which include help with things such as equipment, books, transport, childcare or residential funding.
As each college has a different policy on how they manage their funds.
You need to contact the college you are thinking about applying to and ask about schemes they may have.
There are organisations that help support students with disabilities.
These ‘Trusts’ may be able to help, depending on, for example, the nature of your disability, where you live and your family’s circumstances.
Grants are usually modest and there is no guarantee that you will receive any funds.