Disappearing qualifications: the impact on our learners with additional needs

By Hannah Wallwork posted 11-01-2022 09:00


I've been teaching science at a large SEND high school and college for the last 10 years, and we've had great success with a range of qualifications. These qualifications are chosen because they fit the ability of the learners, have the right level of engagement and practical elements and provide a recognised qualification. They are fit for purpose, and suit the vast range of abilities and skills of the learners in my care.

At KS4 historically I've had two classes working towards their GCSE Combined Science, two classes working towards their Level 1 Science and two classes completing Entry Level Certificates - and all of the learners have achieved those qualifications. However this year - and in future years - I will have to spend time trying to find suitable qualifications for my non-GCSE learners, because the qualifications that suit them, and are fit for purpose and are achievable, are disappearing.

My middle year 10 group, who previously would have completed the Level 1 qualification competently and confidently, are now having to work beyond their aspirational targets on a Level 2 course, which may not be wholly suitable, but is a better fit for them than the Entry Level Certificate. Why? Because the funding for the Level 1 Science course has been pulled.

I've always been confident and proud of the fact that, in the ten years I’ve been teaching at the school, every child has completed Y11 with a science qualification. But because of these changes and disappearing qualifications, I am now left wondering what will happen to my middle learners? Are there any other suitable qualifications I haven’t explored? Are there any other options for those learners who are above Entry Level but not ready for GCSE?




12-01-2022 14:16

At my last school we moved from L1 BTEC to GCSE at KS4 because of progress measures (even though they didn't apply to us as a special school) Governors were keen that students didn't follow a combined science course as the terminal assessment was very heavy and our learners very anxious (so we did single biology instead). We know that the current 'one-size fits all' approach often doesn't include our SEND learners so how do we move the narrative forward?

12-01-2022 11:21

That's exactly the problem Emma - the T levels are very much Level 3 courses and are so intricate and in depth with concepts and criteria that are just not accessible for the majority of my SEN learners. 
It would be interesting to see if there were any other ways to fund the Level 1 and ELC courses without it wholly relying on the government?​

12-01-2022 09:21

I have a two sen children i and i defiantly agree that these qualifications are very important to them. I did say something to a friend the other day and he mentioned something about T Levels was replacing them however when i i've done a little  research online on these they seem to be level 3, and there page even says this. 

"The Government’s impact assessment acknowledges students from SEND (special educational needs and disability) backgrounds or derived areas are disproportionately represented on courses at risk of losing funding, and some might be unable to achieve a level 3 qualification in the future." 

University have said its going to effect people from disadvantage groups accessing higher education. 

Don't feel the government have even thought about our sen kids which done surprise me everything been a battle from day one for everything even getting help in education so they can achieve.