AQW 25524/11-15

Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley
Democratic Unionist Party
Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Tabled Date: 10/09/2013
Answered On Date: 23/09/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister for Employment and Learning, in relation to the decision taken by the South West College to cease part-time courses in the Dungannon campus in favour of amalgamation to full-time courses in Cookstown, (i) what consultation was carried out; (ii) with whom did the college consult; and (iii) to provide the general responses to the consultation.

Part time provision
Firstly, I wish to clarify the level and type of provision on offer at the Dungannon campus of South West College (SWC) for students with a learning difficulty and/or disability. The College has informed me that the existing part-time provision on offer at the Dungannon Campus related to courses for participants from the Beacon Centre. SWC consider that this type of provision would not be appropriate for young adults leaving special schools.
Therefore, SWC have stated they chose to review provision of courses for young adults leaving special schools, in the greater Dungannon and Cookstown catchment area, as part of the collaborative work with Principals and staff in both Sperrinview and Kilronan schools and Day Opportunity Workers and Transitions Officers. Subsequently, the college put in place a full-time programme, in addition to the already established part time provision in the Cookstown campus.
The college has advised that, in terms of general consultation, as mentioned above, they maintain extremely good links with the Principals and staff in the Sperrinview and Kilronan schools. In addition, strong links have been established with Day Opportunity Workers and Transitions Officers.
As a result of these links, part-time provision has been expanded at the Cookstown campus over the last five years. During this period, the college used meetings, open days and celebration of achievement events to discuss opportunities with students, parents and school managers. The feedback obtained from these meetings and events led to the expansion of existing provision for students with a learning difficulty and/or disability at the Cookstown campus.
The College has also advised that the issue of prospective students from Sperrinview Special School travelling between Dungannon and Cookstown on public transport was not raised during any discussions relating to location of provision; nor were any further substantive issues raised in relation to the location of this provision
Whilst the College state that there was no formal consultation regarding the location of provision at Cookstown, SWC have reassured me that open channels of communication were consistently maintained between the college and the schools concerned.