Additional Learning Support: Empowering students to be anything

A boy with glasses sits in a wheelchair. He is painting with a long paintbrush

Additional Learning Support (ALS) is a department that many students may not come across during their time at Barnsley College. This fantastic team of support staff work behind the scenes to ensure that every student enjoys their time at College and makes the most of the opportunities they have here. But what exactly can ALS do for you and what type of support do they offer?

“…We work with individual students to allow them to access help according to their specific learning needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.”

Who are ALS?

The Additional Learning Support department is committed to helping individuals with learning difficulties and disabilities to overcome barriers to learning, in order for them to progress and fully integrate into the College community. Siobhan Evanson, who is Head of Department for ALS, describes their work as: “Tailored support – we work with individual students to allow them to access help according to their specific learning needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.”

Who can access ALS?

Any student in College can access ALS services. Every academic department across College has students that work with ALS – those who use the service have a range of learning difficulties or disabilities.

Amy-Jo Howell is a Level 2 Animal Care student who has autism and memory loss. She told us about how her disabilities affected life at College on a day-to-day basis:

“I don’t like loud noises – this means I struggle with constant noise, remembering things and I don’t like talking to new people.

“I struggle asking people for help and will only ask support workers, like Gaynor, for help.”

Daniel King, a Level 3 Performing Arts student, is affected by a disability called Anterior Horn Cell disease. He told us more about it:

“It affects my lower body. So, from the bottom of my spine, all the way down – it means I can’t do much physical things, like everybody else can.

“For example, it’s hard to do my coursework and things. I have a tremor, so if we are writing on paper, it’s quite hard for me to hold the pen.”

What sort of help do they offer?

“I’ve got my own personalised wheelchair. We keep it at home. It’s got a cold pack on it as well. If I need it one day, we just take it with me. My mum and dad will just drop me off and then support will meet me.”

ALS offer different methods of support for a range of complex learning needs. This might include allocating a support worker to help students physically get around College, or to assist with notetaking during lessons. The ALS webpage has a full list of learning difficulties and disabilities catered for by the department.

With the right help, part-time wheelchair user Daniel makes the best of his unique situation.

“When we are doing practical sessions, say we are doing a certain exercise I can’t do, I tend to put my own twist on it.

“I’ve got my own personalised wheelchair. We keep it at home. It’s got a cold pack on it as well. If I need it one day, we just take it with me. My mum and dad will just drop me off and then support will meet me.”

Amy-Jo also has a support worker, Gaynor, who is able to help with her specific learning needs.

“I have a support worker in most lessons, and I will sometimes ask her to take notes for me. I find Gaynor is the best at this.”

Some students don’t need much help in class – but they do require some provisions to ease their anxiety about attending College. This is something else that ALS provides across all College buildings. Koby Smales is a Level 1 Catering and Hospitality student with ADHD. He said:

“I need help crossing the road, because I can’t cross roads. I also need help with different stuff, such as going on a bus – I couldn’t go on the bus because I need someone with me.

“I like it when it is not crowded. I like it when I am in my own little bubble, like in my own room, so it is calm. I like when I get my own space and when it is not crowded.”

By providing break-out areas in across College and support in lessons, ALS allows students like Koby to have some quiet time, away from others to ease anxiety.

“It’s had a positive impact.” Says Koby.

“I am finding it easier than high school…. In high school, I did not get as much support as I am getting in College. Also, in College, I am finding it easier to do lessons and it’s more fun and I am not as anxious about going into lessons and finding my way around College.”

How can I access support?

Whether you have a disability or a learning difficulty; if it’s long-term or temporary; ALS can help you enjoy your time in College and achieve anything.

To find out more, you can visit the ALS page. Alternatively, you can email the department or call 01226 216 769.

 

Last updated: 18th August 2021

Originally posted on: 18th August 2021