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AIM Qualification and Assessment Group

How AIM customises qualifications for learners with physical disabilities

Earlier this month Amanda Ibraham, AIM Centre Lead, spoke at the PDNet 2022 Conference about how AIM centres can customise qualifications for learners with physical disabilities, helping them to achieve accredited qualifications and their true potential.

But wouldn't that already be something that's regularly considered?

You would think so, but as those of us who have spent a long time in education know, the mainstream academic curriculum doesn’t always consider the needs of learners with disabilities. This is a product of its inability to address the roadblocks that learners, especially those with a physical disability, may encounter.

‘Right Support, Right Place, Right Time for Learners with Physical Disabilities’

The new green paper, presented by the Secretary of State for Education, is a review of SEND and the alternative provision system in England, and proposes a number of wide reforms and changes to the delivery landscape.

Key takeaways from this 216-page document are:

  • "We are proposing a simplified qualifications landscape with a system which is easier to navigate with high-quality qualifications that better support students, including those with SEND, to progress to positive outcomes such as further study, employment, or adulthood and independent living." (Pg 52)
  • "We will therefore develop a new performance table for alternative provision schools." (Pg 66)
  • "The children and young people who remain in alternative provision until the end of key stage 4 will, therefore, attain better outcomes by focusing on the skills and qualifications that enable them to make a successful transition to post-16." (pg 66)

Whilst the Government is talking about improvements, we’re taking action. We recognise many of the barriers to learning outlined in the paper and our qualifications already have the flexibility to address some of the issues raised in the paper.

No Limitations for Learners with Physical Disabilities

So how are centres using our for learners with disabilities?

  • The ‘Pick 'N' Mix’ approach

 Some of our qualifications between entry level 1 - level 2 include hundreds of units and unit combinations making it easier to tailor the qualifications for learners with physical disabilities.

  • Not defined by levels

The units are also not restrained by level. This means that units from a lower level can be selected for a qualification, allowing the criteria to cater to a learner's strengths and weaknesses, making sure they get the most from the qualification.

  • The small things that matter

The creation of entry level 1 qualifications means that learners with severe disabilities have the opportunity to study for, and gain, a qualification. This builds confidence and recognises their achievements rather than highlighting their disability.

  • Working alongside the traditional curriculum

Some of our other qualifications provide a mixture of units covering traditional, academic curriculum subjects areas such as history, geography and art. This gives learners, who might not achieve GCSE, the opportunity to achieve a qualification in a traditional subject area.

  • No exams

Our level 2 qualifications (considered equivalent in terms of depth of knowledge, to A-C GCSE) are not formally examined which removes the physical and mental barriers imposed by a traditional classroom examination.

We asked Amanda, which AIM Qualifications she would recommend to centres working with learners with physical disabilities? Here’s her list:

  • Personal Progress (only E1) 
  • Independent Living
  • Personal and Social Development Skills 
  • Employability
  • AIMVOCs 

What Else Can We Do to Help?

With years of experience developing qualifications, our team have worked hard to ensure that our awarding process is just as simple and uncomplicated as our qualifications. That’s why we’ve implemented the features below to enable centres to focus on their learners achieving, rather than the process of getting their qualifications awarded.

  • Flexible processes

After developing qualifications with flexibility in mind, it was only right to add that same flexibility to our processes used for accrediting and awarding learners regardless of physical capabilities.

  • Fewer limitations

As an awarding organisation we trust our centres to decide what is best for their learners. That's why most of our have very few limitations, such as lower end minimal age, so that more learners can benefit from taking the qualification.

  • Teacher designed assessments

Assessments are designed by teachers, who understand their learner's abilities and interests.

  • Understanding and adjusting

As with our qualifications, we're happy for reasonable adjustments to be made eg appointing a scribe or allowing extra time for learners with disabilities.

Centres offering our qualifications to learners with disabilities also benefit from our approach to: 

  • accepting a wide variety of evidence
  • incorporating holistic assessment into learners' qualification
  • using "Achieved" or "Not yet achieved" rather than "Pass" and "Fail" to allow learners to re-submit 

We’re proud to enable learning and to release the potential of all learners and we really hope that this green paper consultation brings more positive changes.

If you’d like to learn more about how to become an AIM centre or about offering any of these qualifications, take a look at our qualification search tool or if you’d prefer to give us a call and talk to a team member, or Amanda, about how we could customise a qualification for your learners, call us on +44 (0)1332 341822.

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