Before recess I raised concerns in Parliament over the decision by Fife College to drop their Adult Programme courses, due to be replaced by Community Skills courses after the summer. The decision from Fife College has raised concerns that students with additional support needs will be unable to make the transition from the old course to the new one and will ultimately miss out.
I raised these concerns after being contacted by constituents who fear that the changes introduced by Fife College will result in their family missing out on the college opportunities that the Adult Programme course brings. The cancellation of these non-certificated courses is due to a combination of severe budget pressures and a focus on employability.
I was able to quiz the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning during Education questions and I raised my fears that the change in course would lead to some being “excluded from college opportunities, and the social and educational benefit this brings them.”
I asked Michael Russell MSP if he recognises that “the reduction in non-certificated courses is having an adverse impact on people with additional support needs.” Currently there are around 170 people with additional support needs in Fife College that take part in the Adult Programme courses, though there are concerns that only 10% of those will be able to manage the new course.
I was disappointed by the Cabinet Secretary’s response which failed to recognise the impact of these decisions on some adults with additional support needs and I will be writing to the Government outlining my concerns in detail.
While the change places a focus on gaining qualifications and employability this is not always appropriate for all learners. It is very concerning that up to 150 people with additional supports are set to be denied the opportunity to reap the social and educational benefits provided by the adult programme courses.
Colleges are institutions for learning, and those with additional support needs must not be excluded from being able to access that ability to learn too. If this provisions is not to be provided by colleges there must be an educational alternative.