Higher education can open up exciting new opportunities in terms of your personal and professional development. Our role is to encourage you to achieve and to support you as you work towards making your future goals a reality.
Whether you have a learning difficulty or disability, you're a care leaver, you haven't studied in a while, you need to move away from home to study and/or you're juggling study with other commitments such as work and family, our learning support specialists will assist you all they can to steer you towards success.
Ways we can help
We offer a range of services to support you across all areas of student life, with specialist support available for students with disabilities. Along with practical and personal support we also provide tutorial support to develop your IT and study skills, which can be delivered as one-to-one sessions, through group workshops or electronically.
The following services are available:
- Wellbeing Support
- Study Skills Support
- Information Technology (IT) Support
- Disability and Dyslexia Support
- Exam Access Arrangements
- Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) for UK students
- Support for Care Leavers
- Access on Campus
- Learning Resources
- Accommodation support
The Higher Education Learning Support team offer wellbeing services to help students get the most out of their time at College. These cover everything from helping you to adjust to student life to encouraging you to continue with your studies. We recognise it isn't easy to focus on your studies and enjoy student life when personal difficulties or emotional worries arise, which is why we'll be there to help and support you to 'get back on track'.
Examples of the support we offer include:
- Assistance with familiarisation of the campus and the different resources.
- Emotional support and help in devising wellbeing strategies for positive self-esteem, confidence, handling stress, managing the unexpected and coping with traumatic life events.
- Encouragement to stay positive and motivated, especially around coursework deadlines.
- Providing you with someone to talk to when times get tough.
- Support with mitigating circumstances to help you get back on track and complete your course.
- Support with temporary medical conditions and life circumstances e.g. broken leg, pregnancy, bereavement etc.
- Referral to other sources of support, such as our College Counselling Service and to external agencies such as the National Health Service and charities such as the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which awards bursaries to FE students progressing to HE who have overcome significant personal and financial hardship.
Study Skills Support
Whether you're used to study or you haven't studied in a long time the Higher Education Learning Support team can help you to enhance and develop your study skills so you become a more confident student, capable of achieving your full potential.
Examples of the support we offer include:
- Support in settling into higher education study.
- Development of academic literacy skills, such as critical and reflective writing and English Language proficiency (eg grammar and sentence structure).
- Development of Information skills, such as research, finding and using resources and referencing.
- Development of skills such as assignment planning and structuring, time management and organising, memory optimisation and revision as well as examination techniques.
- Assistance with enhancing academic skills to help you gain those extra marks.
- Assistance with personal development planning so you can gain the transferable skills needed to compete for employment.
- To read more about the study skills you'll develop as you progress on your higher education course, go to: Learnhigher.ac.uk
Information Technology (IT) Support
The Higher Education Learning Support team offer a range of IT support, which allow you to refresh your skills in this area generally or develop skills specific to studying an higher education course.
Examples of the support we offer include:
- Basic support with Microsoft applications such as Word, Publisher and PowerPoint.
- Support with College-specific programs such as the College email, Moodle and library databases.
- Support with internet searches and internet safety.
- Development of digital literacy skills such as communicating in different media.
- Help with networked literacy support software, including:
- Text help Read and Write, a reading and writing tool for PC and MAC users, which reads most typed information aloud from the computer to help identify grammatical errors and proof read written work. The software also includes an advanced spell-checker, dictionary, thesaurus and many other features along with ‘how to use’ tutorials.
- Mindview, a networked visual learning tool to enable you to organise ideas graphically, ideal for planning and organisation/project management.
- Essay Writer, an essay writing guide with animated tutorials and user guides for essay creation. Features include essays/maps, subject dictionaries and bibliographic references with Text-to-Speech built-in.
Disability and Dyslexia Support
If you have a disability or learning difficulty we’ll provide all the support you need to allow you to reach your full potential while at College. Whether you have a sensory or mobility impairment; an ongoing long-term/progressive medical condition such as epilepsy or chronic fatigue syndrome; a mental-health condition such as depression, anxiety or bi-polar; Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), such as Asperger’s Syndrome; a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia; or any other condition which has a ‘significant, long-term and adverse effect’ on your ability to carry out your day-to-day activities and study, rest assured you will receive the assistance you need.
Examples of the support we offer include:
- Advice and guidance for applicants and current students about the support available.
- Psychological assessments with a qualified educational psychologist and support for students with dyslexia, dyspraxia and specific learning difficulties (SpLD).
- Support with applications for the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA).
- Advice about available equipment and computer software and associated costs, and assistance with making purchases.
- Individual support packages, which might include study skills help from a specialist support tutor or note-takers, readers and library study support from a support worker.
- Help with organising specific teaching and learning requirements (including exams) in conjunction with our academic and exam teams.
- Development of strategies for improving social and communication skills.
- Library book loan extensions by special arrangement.
- Interim support and concessions such as an equipment loan for a temporary injury (like a broken arm).
- If you’re an existing student and you think you may have a learning difficulty but you haven’t received a diagnosis, please contact us for advice and (if appropriate) to book a diagnostic assessment. For external sources of support, please see Blackpool Mental Health Support Services Directory.
Exam Access Arrangements
Exam access arrangements allow students who are unable to sit formal examinations under usual exam conditions as a result of a disability, learning or communication difficulty, mental health condition and/or medical condition, to have the same opportunities as other students. By discussing your needs with our Disability Support team, reasonable adjustments can then be made through liaison with our exams team (known as Achievements) and your tutors. You will also need to produce evidence of your condition such as a psychologist’s or specialist teacher’s report, medical evidence, a DSA Study Needs Assessment Report or a report by an accredited assessment body.
Examples of exam access arrangements could include;
- Use of a reader
- Use of a scribe
- Use of a laptop
- Use of a separate room
- Use of assistive technologies and ergonomic devices such as an ergonomic mouse
- Supervised rest breaks
- Additional time allowance
- Tinnitus sound therapy support
- Use of low vision aids
- Signed communication
Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) for UK Students
The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) provides extra financial help to UK Higher Education students to allow them to meet the extra costs of studying as a direct result of a long-term medical or mental health condition, disability or Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD). It is a non-repayable grant based on need not income.
Most international students will not be eligible for the DSA. However some students might be eligible to access our specialist equipment and technology, and funding might also be available from external organisations, such as the Snowdon Trust. As soon as you know you’re going to be studying here, you should contact us to discuss your support needs.
What does the Disabled Students’ Allowance pay for?
You may get help with the costs of:
- Specialist equipment or computer software.
- Non-medical helpers, like a note-taker or specialist support tutor.
- Extra travel costs you have to pay because of your disability.
- Other costs, like photocopying or printer cartridges.
The DSA does not pay for personal care assistance and support with day-to-day chores such as washing, cleaning or shopping – more information about this can be found on the Gov.UK website. For an assessment of your living needs and help you may require you should contact your local Social Services department.
How to apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)
The DSA is usually administered to Higher Education students by whomever is supplying the funding for your course. So, if you’re eligible for a student loan or fees through Student Finance England (or equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) you should apply for the DSA direct to them. The application process can take quite a few weeks so it’s important to start it as soon as possible – we will help you however.
Proving you’re eligible
In order to receive the DSA you will need to prove your eligibility to the particular funding body. They will require written professional evidence from an educational psychologist or an accredited SpLD specialist tutor or a medical practitioner. This evidence will also be used to support any special exam arrangements you might require.
Below, we’ve outlined the specific evidence you will need for particular disabilities and medical conditions:
Specific Learning Difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia
You will need a full psychological diagnostic assessment produced by a psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher after you were 16 years old. If you have not received a diagnosis, please contact our Disability Officer for advice and, if appropriate, a diagnostic assessment will be arranged for you. After the assessment you will be sent a report of your diagnosis saying whether you have a specific learning difficulty or not. If you have a diagnosis the report can be used as evidence of your disability to apply for the DSA.
Disabilities and Mental Health/Medical Conditions
A formal letter is usually acceptable as evidence of a disability to apply for the DSA. This should ideally come from your doctor, consultant or other medical practitioner. The medical evidence should be in the format of a letter (or report), be signed and presented on letter headed paper (or have the practice stamp on it).
The letter needs to include:
- The diagnosis of the disability and/or mental health/medical condition. (If you have more than one disability/condition, please include all conditions.)
- The duration of the condition i.e. long-term and/or fluctuating, for example the condition has lasted for at least or is likely to last for 12 months.
- The impact of the condition on your day-to-day activities.
- The likely impact of the condition on studying, in terms of attendance, motivation, fatigue, social anxiety, short-term/long-term memory, performance and academic tasks (including exams etc.)
- Details, where appropriate, of medication side effects that may impact on learning, such as fatigue or poor concentration.
What happens next
Following your application, and once your funding body has established your eligibility for the DSA, you will be invited to have your needs individually assessed at a recognised DSA Assessment Centre. The study needs assessment will identify exactly what support you will require as part of your course.
Helpful links and information:
- How to apply for the DSA Gov.UK advice
- Student Finance England (SFE)
- Student Awards Agency for Scotland
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
- Student Finance Wales
- A series of short information films are accessible on the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) website and give an account of students’ DSA experiences and how to apply. Each film has accessibility options, including sign language and interactive transcripts.
Access on Campus
For a complete Campus Access Guide please visit the B&FC section of the DisabledGo website . Alternatively if you need to arrange any special access arrangements for your visit (signers, alternative formats), check access to specific buildings or venues or need support for car parking, please contact our Student Services Team or the individual you will be visiting.
Site maps for all our campuses are available here. Our main campuses also have listening posts installed in the reception areas.
For further information, assistance or a confidential chat please call in and see us in the Student Advice Centre at The Hub, University Centre, Bennett Avenue. FY1 4EE or call us on Tel. 01253 504494. Alternatively you can email: email@example.com (for queries about study skills/wellbeing support) or firstname.lastname@example.org (for queries about disability and additional diversity support).