Courses for learners with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND)

Foundation Learning: includes many highly successful, high-quality, programmes for learners aged 16-24 with SEND.

Our ethos is to put the learner first in everything that we do, and this is extended to all of our students. Over the last few years, we have created specialist facilities for learners on the autism spectrum and learners with profound and complex learning difficulties/disabilities to provide our students with the best possible environment to support their learning. 

Foundation Learning is for students with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) and barriers to learning. Weston College is a highly supportive, ambitious and inclusive environment for all of its students, and we pay particular attention to the development of personalised curriculum.

We create an individual programme of study, which considers each student’s needs and aspirations. We take a holistic and learner-focused approach to ensuring that our students’ experiences, achievements and outcomes are outstanding and sustainable. We celebrate each one of our students, and encourage them to reach their potential, enabling independence through innovative programmes.

All students on a Foundation Learning programme will have an assigned personal tutor who will work with the student to co-create their timetable.

Study programmes are diverse, with flexibility to support learners to work towards their intended outcomes and aspirations, including:

  • A range of vocational, creative and sporting options
  • Personal and social development
  • Employability skills
  • Work placements
  • Independent living
  • Maths and English Development.
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Level 1


1 Year
Sep 2024
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Aspirations is a programme of study specifically developed for 17 – 24 year olds on the autism spectrum, delivered at Weston Bay. Many of the students on the course already have academic or vocational qualifications, but have found accessing employment, higher education or independent living very difficult. Aspirations allows students to exp...

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Level 1

Extension Studies

1 Year
Sep 2024
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The aim of the programme is to support learners with moderate learning difficulties, specific learning difficulties and/ or social emotional and mental health difficulties, to progress into employment, higher level courses and/or independent living. We will work with learners to help them recognise and value their strengths, while developing a...

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Level 1

Preparation for Life

1 Year
Sep 2024
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The aim of the Preparation for Life curriculum area is for learners with a range of Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) to develop independence and successfully transition into adulthood. The programme aims to provide a differentiated and individualised approach to each learner’s study programme at college in order to work t...

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Level 1

Sensory Learning

10 Weeks
Sep 2024
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A purpose-built, safe, self-contained, specialist facility at Weston College’s Knightstone Campus for students with Profound and Complex Learning Disabilities (PCLD). Where appropriate to the individual, students will also be able to access the many other student facilities across the College, including the library and Bistro. The provision ...

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Level 1

Supported Internship: Into Work

1 Year
Sep 2024
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Supported Internships provide an individualised programme of study for 16 to 24 year olds with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so. The programme has one primary aim which is to: wherever possible support young people t...

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Our Foundation Learning programmes are courses that offer a flexible curriculum that enhances our students' learning experience and provides them the strong 'foundations' that will benefit them as they prepare for adult life towards outcomes for working life, independent living and good health.

The inclusive programmes are delivered by our professionally qualified and specialist SEND staff who aim to instil self-belief and confidence in our students. The tutorial element is an integral part of the programme’s philosophy, encompassing the development of individual strategies, empowering learners to take responsibility for their own learning. This learner-centred approach uses the College setting to provide pathways to further study.

Why study Foundation Learning at Weston College?

Our Foundation Learning programmes have a 100% success rate.

At Weston College, students have access to a wide range of excellent, high-quality vocational experiences, specialist resources and accommodation across all Weston College campuses, giving learners the opportunity to learn in appropriate contexts, for example, the hairdressing and beauty salons, Grove Restaurant, Badgworth Arena, Sports Centre and the professional kitchens.

The programmes of study are further enhanced throughout the year with opportunities for learners with SEND to participate in additional sporting events, overnight and week-long residential stays, educational visits, lunch-time activities and the end-of-year celebration events.


Comments from Ofsted, 2013

"Learners with learning or physical disabilities make outstanding progress and can live more independent and enriched lives through the support, education and training they receive at college."

"Learners with identified additional learning support needs are supported well through differentiated classroom activities"


Thank you for your interest in applying for one of our courses for students with SEND.

Please click on the courses above and apply online using the Apply button.

If you are unable to complete your application online please email

If you need any assistance completing your application form, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01934 411175.

Once we receive the application, we will make some preliminary enquiries to your school and to Learning Partnership West to find out a little more about you.

We will then invite you in for an interview where we can discuss the best options for you and tell you more about what you can expect from the course.

When you come to your interview, please make sure you bring the completed forms which will be sent to you with your interview invite letter, along with information on your medical history (such as GP name and address and any medication you are taking), your expected qualifications and any certificates you have.



Hopefully, you found the information you were looking for in this section, however if you still have some queries, please take a look at the frequently asked questions below, or give us a call on 01934 411 575.

Students are assessed on an individual basis to determine their support needs, and a support programme will be developed if appropriate. Group sizes are deliberately kept small to enable the tutor and support worker(s) in each session to target the learning needs of each student. Individual support will also be provided outside of the classroom environment to include work placements, breakfast and lunch club and break times.

Students should discuss their concerns with their tutor or a member of the Specialist Support team. All of our staff offices operate an open-door policy so students are more than welcome to drop in at any time.

Our Foundation Learning courses are all offered for an initial one-year period which will be reviewed towards the end of the year. Students studying on Extension Studies may be able to continue for more than one year if deemed appropriate. Students studying on Preparation for Work and Life may be able to continue for a further two years if it is deemed appropriate.

All students will take part in a group tutorial where you will learn about various aspects of personal and social development. All students also attend lessons in ICT, English and Maths, but, these lessons are catered to each student’s ability and group sizes are small so you can learn in the best possible environment.

All students can then freely choose from a variety of vocational subjects.

Yes, all students get an opportunity to go on a residential and there are also many day trips organised throughout the year. Students may be able to get financial support to pay for these trips through the bursary scheme.

Many learners may choose to go out into town at lunchtime with their friends which is absolutely fine, but some learners who don’t feel confident going out can have lunch in the Bistro. Here, there are members of staff to support you and there are also a number of lunchtime activities students can get involved in.

Students who require support at break times and lunchtimes will receive it, including support to enable access to the various lunchtime activities and enrichment opportunities.

For students on the Preparation for Work and Life course, we aim for you to achieve an Asdan qualification in either Employability, Personal and Social Development or Personal Progress depending on how long you stay with us and what is appropriate in working towards your agreed outcomes.

For students on Extension Studies, we aim for you to achieve an NOCN Step up qualification which is a very flexible qualification, enabling you to work towards units in a number of different subject areas.

Students on both courses will achieve NCFE functional skills qualifications in English, maths and ICT where it is appropriate.

Many students will purchase a termly bus pass when they come to enroll which is offered at a reduced price. However, for some students, getting to College on public transport can be really difficult and some students are eligible for North Somerset’s Home to College transport scheme. For more information on this, please see our transport information page.

Students will be provided with many of the relevant materials for their classes which will include paper, craft supplies for art, protective clothing and wood for DIY, food for budget cookery or anything else you might need which is relevant to your session. Students will however be asked to pay £25 at the beginning of the year to help cover the costs of this and will be asked to bring in a pen and folder.

All students will be allocated a personal tutor and will have a tutorial at least once-a-week but some students might need them more frequently. The tutorial time will be agreed between the student and tutors at the start of the course. Of course, if there is anything you need to urgently talk to your tutor about, they will be more than happy to see you at any time. The tutorial programme is an integral part of the students programme.

Based at Knightstone campus with use of specialist facilities across the Weston College campuses.

Moving onto Further Education is a big step for all young people, particularly for those with SEND. At Weston College, we arrange thorough and individualised programmes to ensure the transition is seamless. Our transition programmes could include meetings with the learner, parents, carers, school staff and external agencies, to establish a close liaison and a partnership approach:

- School or specialist provider observations
- Attending school review meetings and multi-agency meetings
- Planning a personalised transition programme with the learner
- Familiarisation days and taster sessions
- Collaboration with relevant agencies
- Access to Entry and Level 1 Link programmes as appropriate
- School visits
- Specialist support
- Initial Needs Assessments to gather full information
- Diagnostic assessments

Transition periods can last from a month to as much as a year. Each programme is arranged and agreed on an individual basis with each school, specialist provider, or external organisation. It is our experience that this planned transition into College plays a significant role in learners being able to access Weston College successfully.

Similarly, transition programmes support learners to transition out of College and into the next phase of their development - further training, higher education, supported or paid employment, and independent living.

Some learners may be entitled to free transport to College provided by the local authority, if they're under 19 years old and live more than three miles from Weston College.

For learners over 19 they can apply for the Vacant Seat Payment Scheme (VSPS) which provides access to this transport at a concessionary price. VSPS is not guaranteed and learners may have to be transported to a pick-up point. It costs around £450 a year.

Transport options are discussed during the application and interview process. Weston College liaises closely with the local authority and parents and carers are kept up to date with arrangements, priority learners commencing their course.

By bus - discounted bus travel

Learners who can travel independently can buy a bus pass (£70 a term) which allows them to travel five days a week, within North Somerset and Bristol.

Learners should bring a folder and stationery with them when they start college. Lockers are provided for files and equipment. They can buy drinks, snacks and hot meals from the College Bistro or alternatively bring a packed lunch.

Foundation Learning programmes encourage learners with SEND to take part in challenging sports events, overnight and week-long residential stays, educational visits, lunchtime activities, and end-of-year shows. Overnight stays cost between £35-£50, and summer residentials (3-4 nights) cost between £150-£300, depending on chosen activities.

These additional enrichment activities are real confidence boosters and, so far, every full-time learner has said they enjoyed their additional trips and residentials.

Learners can apply for the bursary to get help with costs, if their household income is below £32,000 a year. We can help your son or daughter apply for the bursary over the summer or in September when their course starts. If successful, they'll receive money once a term, and have their Spring and Summer term bus pass paid for. Learners from families with an income below £11,999 a year will also get help with buying lunch.

Your application will need to be accompanied by evidence of your household income (letters from the Inland Revenue, pay slips, or bank statements etc).

"Learners with learning or physical disabilities make outstanding progress and can live more independent and enriched lives through the support, education and training they receive at college."

"Learners with identified additional learning support needs are supported well through differentiated classroom activities"

Learners are invited to interview with one of the Foundation Learning team. Many learners who attend our Foundation Learning provision have an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) and we work with the Local Authority through a formal consultation process to ensure we have everything needed to help you succeed on a course.

We work with all learners to identify positive pathways into further educational programmes, work opportunities or into packages of support provided locally that will ensure you make a smooth transition into adult life.

Details of your son or daughter’s Personal Tutor will be given to you at the beginning of the year, along with their email address and telephone number. Our tutors do try to keep in regular contact with all parents as a matter of course and many parents like to use a communication book which the tutors can write in for the students to take home with them. Regular parent / carer meetings will take place throughout the year.


Employer with learners at reverse career fair

<p>Weston College hosted its first ever ‘Reverse Careers Fair’ at the beginning of this month, as part of My Future Month, for the learners with SEND within the Faculty of Inclusive Practice (FIP).</p><p>Each student created poster boards showcasing themselves, their accolades and their skills, for employers from across the South West to review and find potential new members of their workforce.</p><p>We caught up with Nina Sinclair, the Lead Employment Navigator for Autism, who co-ordinated the event. She told us about the success and process of the reverse careers fair:</p><p>“We knew this was an important event to arrange for the leaners within the faculty. In my experience of attending the ‘normal’ job fairs, it’s really apparent that it’s not accessible. Yes, it’s physically accessible to some degree, but when you take into account the sensory and social demands, the layout and navigating, and the confidence it takes to put yourself in front of an employer in that manner, you realise that someone who is neurodivergent could find that incredibly difficult, particularly when they are trying to put their best self forward. Because of the impact that this can have, it almost feels as though they are competing with people who don’t have those barriers, and it struck me as being extremely unfair.</p><p>We heard about reverse career fairs previously and had wanted to implement something similar for learners with SEND during My Future Month, to support their progression of careers and employability. The idea of creating the poster boards seemed ideal, as the learners are still able to showcase their talents to employers, without needing to talk directly to them, or even be in the room if it felt too demanding on the day.</p><p>Furthermore, we felt flipping around the ‘traditional’ layout of a careers event would allow the employers to feel more approachable and human to the learners, and encourage those meaningful conversations that can lead to brilliant outcomes.</p><p>We knew we had to take the leap and arrange this inspiring event to take place following the constant learner feedback that we receive, including struggling to access community and college wide events, as well as virtual ones.</p><p>As a college, we’ve been offering <a href="">Incl… Employer workshops</a>, to educate and improve employer’s understanding of inclusivity towards becoming more neurodivergence within their business, and potential employees too. We took this chance to self-reflect and practice what we preach within the college, to improve upon what we deliver to learners with SEND.</p><p>When considering which employers to invite to this event, we wanted to ensure it was bespoken to the learners showcasing themselves. To achieve this, we found out from the learners which area and industry they would like to work in, and then asked the Business Growth Team to reach out to employers which fit the description and invite them along. We then knew which employer to direct to which learner or poster board, to encourage conversations with meaningful outcomes for both participants.</p><p>As well as the employers which attended, we also had some representatives from the college’s <a href="… Team</a> to present to the learners that they also have that option, but also to present to the apprenticeship team that even though our learners may require extra support in some areas, they are strong candidates for apprenticeships.</p><p>Something we desperately wanted to avoid was the idea that this would be ‘segregating’ the learners with SEND from the other learners. In order to combat this, we purposely planned this event for a week after Careers Fest, a more ‘traditional’ careers fair held by the college. If the learners attended Careers Fest but felt overwhelmed, they knew they had the Reverse Careers Fair which would be better suited to their needs, but still allow the opportunity to talk to employers and put themselves out there.</p><p>The highlight of the event for us was before the event had even happened, walking through the classrooms of the different courses within the faculty, and seeing the learners working on their boards, seeing their excitement, and the conversations that were taking place about their employability opportunities. It was fantastic to see.</p><p>Since the event took place, we’ve had some great feedback from employers, the apprenticeship team, and learners.</p><p>One employer said: “I was able to talk to several students about career progression, job opportunities and also aspirations and all came across really positive and enthusiastic. Thank you for the invitation, and I hopefully look forward to working with your team and group in the future.”</p><p>Chloe from the Apprenticeships Team, said: “This was one of the best events we have attended to date; it gave us a chance to meet a variety of neurodiverse learners in a safe space and have meaningful conversations about how they can take their next steps to getting an apprenticeship!”</p><p>As well as this, we have employers coming back to run CV and money management workshops, and the apprenticeship team want to work closer with the faculty – we know we’re going to have strong outcomes for the learners.</p><p>We wanted to take the Weston College career strategy and adapt it to fit the needs of the learners with SEND and that’s exactly what we’ve achieved; we cannot wait for the next one! This model of best practice in SEND will be shared locally and nationally through our Centre for Excellence in SEND”</p><p>Click to find out more about the <a href="… of Inclusive Practice</a>, or <a href=";utm_medium=… you and your business can get involved</a>.</p>

Toby Wells in classroom, smiling

<p>The recently released Health and Disability White Paper outlines the governments vision to be able to move more neurodiverse individuals into paid employment to support them to ‘Start, stay and succeed in work’.</p><p>Currently, only 4.8% of individuals with a learning disability or autism that are known to local authorities are in full time paid employment. This figure has to change, and we must take action to change the narrative for young people within our community.</p><p>Here at Weston College, our empowerment-based specialist support model promotes a whole-organisational approach to inclusivity. We have developed our supported internship programmaes to provide a personalised innovative support network for learners with EHCPs who are looking to move into sustained employment. As a result of this 85% of our interns move into sustainable employment, bucking the national trend by over 80% and outlining our high aspirations and outstanding outcomes for the young people.</p><p><em>Why choose supported internships?</em></p><p>There is nothing better than working with young people to unlock their true potential. We know that around 20-40% of the UK population are neurodiverse and Internships are work based study programmes that allow these individuals to showcase their skills whilst supporting employers to access an untapped workforce. There are currently over 1 million unfulfilled vacancies within the UK costing employers hundreds of thousands of pounds in recruitment costs and we know that we have individuals that have a wide breath of talent and ambition to bridge this employment gap.</p><p>Our interns flourish in the world of work, reaching their aspirations and making a positive contribution to the workplace. This is reflected recent feedback from one of our job coaches <em>‘The interns I support are unique and individual, which is why Supported Internships are so great –they allow us the flexibility to design a personalised support programme that supports allows them to utilise their unique skills to benefit the employers that they are working with.’ Every day the difference that our internship programme makes to the lives of the young people we support. Interns describe internships in the following ways:</em></p><p><em>‘I am so excited about getting up everyday and going to work. My supported internship will support me to get a job working with children which is something I have always wanted to do.’</em></p><p><em>‘I worked with my job coach to identify where I wanted to work. I was able to get a supported internship opportunity where I trained for 5 months and got a paid job. A year later I still work here and I love coming to work everyday to see the customers and colleagues’</em></p><p><em>‘My internship allowed me to use the skills I have to get a job but more importantly has shaped by personal and social life for the better forever. I have recently just got a promotion in my job, something I never thought I would be able to achieve.’</em></p><p>Our commitment to inclusion permeates beyond the college walls. This year we have trained over 50 employers in neurodiversity awareness to support them to become inclusivity champions. By working together to create supportive opportunities the narrative will begin to change. Hosting a Supported Internship and becoming a more inclusive employer, isn’t just a great thing to do –it makes complete business sense!</p><p>For more information on Supported Internships, email</p>

Learner holding poster for healthy relationships

<p>The student-organised Relationships Fayre at the Hans Price Conference Centre was a huge success, with over 200 students attending and engaging with highly important and thought-provoking topics. Information provided for the attendees included topics such as safe sex, period poverty, consent, relationships with others, and most importantly, safety.</p>

<p>The students displayed exemplar behaviour, showing sensitivity and a mature response to the personal subject matter.</p>

<p>Several external agencies joined the fayre, to ensure all information shared was appropriate and from a professional source.</p>

<p>Students felt this topic was important to bring light to learners with&nbsp;<a href="…; in particular, as young people with learning difficulties or disabilities have as much of a right as anyone else to engage in both healthy sexual and non-sexual relationships, so providing the information to emphasise this is highly beneficial to them.</p>

<p>Research indicates that for young people with SEND, incidences of abuse are four times more likely, and yet less likely to be reported. This further emphasises the importance of providing support in enabling independence and preparing for adulthood.</p>

<p>The Healthy Relationships Fayre turned out to be highly successful, in terms of attendance and helpfulness to the learners, so the students would be keen to continue this as a yearly fayre for students to come.</p>

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