Supporting apprentices with additional learning support needs – what do I need to consider? 

By Tim Chewter, Director of Business Development, Strategic Development Network 

Having the right knowledge and resources in place for apprentices who need additional learning support (ALS) is vital to an inclusive apprenticeship programme. 

It’s something Ofsted look at closely too. And yet, many providers struggle to adapt their methods of delivery to meet the needs of all apprentices. 

Alongside the implementation of apprenticeship standards over the last eight years, and the flexibilities they bring – the government has placed a greater emphasis on widening access to apprenticeships. 

And yet, apprentices with additional learning support needs are more likely to drop out before completion and employers miss out on talented, capable, and reliable employees. 

So how can you, as a trainer, truly provide equality of opportunity and the right additional learning support apprentice’s need to thrive on their apprenticeship programme? 

Declaring a learning difficulty 

According to government research, almost one in five (19.5%) of people aged 16-64 years in England have a disability or learning difficulty, yet current data suggests that only about 10% of individuals starting an apprenticeship declare their learning difficulty or disability, or other social and emotional needs. 

This suggests that many people with additional learning support (ALS) needs may not feel safe to declare their learning needs. This is why creating a safer environment is so vital. 

What you need to consider 

Safe environment 

The positive impact that an inclusive environment can have on apprentices shouldn’t be underestimated. The physical environment, for example, can create unnecessary barriers so understanding what these barriers are, and how to alleviate them as far as possible will prove to be invaluable. 

These barriers may be: 

  • Procedural: The way a course is delivered 
  • Physical: Design of the built environment 
  • Social: This may include negative attitudes towards disabled people – whether consciously or unconsciously held 

Having the right resources and funding in place 

Often, providers do not take full advantage of the funding available to help them support apprenticeships with ALS. The ESFA’s Learning Support Funding (LSF) gives providers additional resource to customise their delivery for apprentices with additional needs. This could include, for example, additional tutoring, specialised learning support or specialist software or IT equipment. 

In essence, the funding is available to meet the costs of making reasonable adjustments for apprentices with a learning difficulty or disability where this affects their ability to continue and complete their apprenticeship. 

You will also need to consider: 

  • Reasonable adjustments – understanding what adjustments can / cannot be made 
  • The learning support definition and what can trigger a learning support funding claim 
  • The evidence pack – from plan to review and how to get this right 
  • Building a better support infrastructure – using funding to implement a successful support function 
  • Engagement with the End-Point Assessment Organisation – making reasonable adjustments 

Claim learner support funding (LSF) for your apprentices 

You can claim up to £150 per month, per learner, to cover the costs of additional support for apprentices who have learning difficulties/disabilities. 

The webinar is delivered by funding specialist David Lockhart-Hawkins and covers: 

  • The 23/24 Funding Rules for learning support 
  • Identifying barriers to learning 
  • Needs Assessment 
  • Support Planning 
  • Support Review 
  • Funding claim controls 
  • Compliance management 
  • Best Practice 

Take a look at this page for more information on Claiming apprenticeship learning support funding with confidence.