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Supporting industry placement students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Industry placements can be really valuable for students with special educational needs and disabilities (sometimes known as SEND).

Support for employers

If the student undertaking a placement with you has a special educational need and/or has a disability, their college or school will help you work out how you can best provide support.

For example, the college or school could advise on tailoring a placement role to suit the talents of a particular individual. It might mean re-thinking parts of the role, so that students can learn, develop and demonstrate the skills, knowledge and behaviour in the way that suits them best.

How providers can help

You can talk to your college or school about the help they can give you with any potential, extra support that students might need in their placement.

This could include:

  • travel to and from the workplace
  • special equipment or adaptations such as computer apps or programmes designed to provide specific support, ensuring information is available in an accessible format
  • an independent mentor
  • a job coach for students with more complex needs, providing full-time supervision to help them become more confident and proficient at work
  • suggesting changes to work patterns or timing
  • support from the student’s parents or carers

Most colleges or schools will have an industry placement coordinator who helps to arrange industry placements which fit the student and employer best.

The coordinator would carry out risk assessments and health and safety checks, with the individual student’s needs in mind. They can also help with the important early days of the placement, to ensure that the student settles well and that you as the employer feel supported.

Help may include setting up equipment, accessibility checks of the premises, and supporting introductions to the team members.

Case study

An employer based in the Midlands provided an industry placement for a student with learning difficulties.

During the planning and set up stage of the placement, the employer and provider (together with the student and their family) discussed the placement in detail, especially the specific needs and the potential barriers to success.

Together they were able to identify potential issues in advance, and mitigate these. The significant barrier was identified as being confident to attend work for the first time.

Measures were put in place to support the transition to the workplace, through:

  • visits to the employer prior to the placement to increase familiarity and confidence
  • the student being accompanied by members of the provider team in the early stages of the placement, their presence becoming less and less over time
  • the student's first few days being part time, slowly building up the hours
  • an allocated workplace mentor to work alongside the student, especially in the early days of the placement

Within a little over a week, the student’s confidence was such that they were able to attend full time, knowing that they were fully supported through access to their workplace mentor when they felt that they needed support.

More information

Find out more about supporting people with specific special education needs or disabilities on GOV.UK.

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