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ASDAN qualifications help SEND college students realise their value

Warmley Park is a special school for young people aged three to 19, where learners transition to a bespoke college on the same site. We visited Warmley Park to see how its college students engaged with ASDAN qualifications and spoke to the Head of College, Marian Lovell, and teacher, Tim Marshall, about how they deliver a successful curriculum.  

“Our young people have moderate to severe learning difficulties with a number on the autism spectrum,” says Marian. “Many students also deal with social, emotional, and mental health difficulties. We chose to deliver ASDAN’s Personal Progress (PP) qualifications and Personal and Social Development (PSD) qualifications because we felt it was important to recognise our young people’s achievements through official accreditation and certification.” 

ASDAN’s Personal Progress qualifications are designed for learners working at Entry 1 or below and contain units specifically aimed at learners with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). Personal and Social Development qualifications accredit learners working from Entry 1 to Level 2. Both qualifications accredit learners aged 14+. 

“We wanted a flexible course that best reflected what we value and consider important for our students. ASDAN was able to provide that for us,” says Marian. 

Learner with Downs Syndrome in a stripy top mixes cake batter in a bowl

Encourages community engagement 

“ASDAN’s qualifications offer lots of opportunities to engage with the local community, which is really beneficial for our young people - such as the Community Action and Environmental Awareness units.”  

“ASDAN qualifications are so functional and enable our learners to be accredited for going out and giving back to the community, taking part in activities that improve our local environment. We've been involved in litter-picking and have been helping to keep the grounds of a local church clean and tidy, which positively impacts the members of the public who use the space.”  

“ASDAN’s community-based module activities have been a real highlight. Our learners have so much to give, and these activities have allowed them to realise their potential,” says Marian. 

“Engaging with the community gives our learners the belief that their skills are useful in the wider world and that they can aspire to have a job and have an active part of their local community,” says Marian. “Local people also benefit from seeing just what our young people can do because there can be that low expectation. We aim to go out there and absolutely blow those pre-conceptions away.” 

Learner in an apron smiling at the camera as she sponges paint on paper

“ASDAN’s courses are about building a young person’s confidence and self-belief” 

“One particular learner really struggled with his self-esteem and believing in himself. Through the ASDAN qualification, he’s developed his own voice and leadership skills. He now really believes in what he can do –going out and playing a full part in his community. 

“Through completing ASDAN’s qualifications, the parents and families of our students see the benefit of education and working towards goals and outcomes. 

“After college, our students may not move on to anything that requires entry criteria, but just because our students don’t need a qualification, it doesn't mean that it's less important for them to do,” says Marian. 

“ASDAN’s courses are all about building confidence and self-belief. Our students have developed the ability to present their work and achievements within the community in an interview. This is an important skill for students with additional needs as it is for anybody.” 

Collage flowers hanging in a classroom

Flexible, varied and complimentary curriculum 

“The scope of ASDAN qualifications is excellent – they offer so much choice,” says Marian. “When you're working with such a range of students with different needs, there is no ‘one size fits all’, so this is really important. The functionality of ASDAN courses is essential for us – our learners aren’t expected to just sit doing worksheets – we've so moved away from that type of learning.  

“ASDAN qualifications fit into our curriculum rather than drive it. I know a lot of teachers are frightened that a qualification will become so onerous and burdensome that you lose the enjoyment of learning. ASDAN qualifications enable us to keep our curriculum lively, energetic and purposeful but still have control over what we are offering to our young people,” says Marian. 

Units designed for young people with PMLD 

In 2020, ASDAN redeveloped its Personal Progress qualifications. New features include fully updated content across all 49 units, nine new units written specifically for learners with PMLD and reduced admin for educators. 

“ASDAN always seems to be looking for ways to be more inclusive. I’ve noticed a real increase in the number of units directed at learners with profound and multiple learning difficulties within the Personal Progress qualification.”

  Leaner in a wheelchair grates cheese with teacher

“ASDAN’s provides a structure for learning” 

While baking an apple cake with a learner, Warmley Park College teacher Tim Marshall tells us how they use multiple ASDAN qualifications to tailor their curriculum to each learner’s needs and abilities. 

“We deliver both PSD and PP because we have learners working at different levels, for example, our learners with profound and multiple disabilities do PP as it contains units designed especially for their ability,” says Tim.  

“We do three units a year for PSD, which means it's not rushed. This term, we're doing the Personal Safety in the Home and Community unit. In the autumn, we did Managing own Money and next term we'll do the Managing Social Relationships unit. 

“Alongside the PSD topics, we choose a PP unit that mirrors it so that all students can be working on similar skills or a similar area of work at the same time,” says Tim. “The students like that they're working towards a qualification.” 

“I like that ASDAN’s qualifications provide a structure for teaching and learning,” says Tim. “They guide you, but at the same time, they’re flexible enough that they don’t tell you exactly what to do. That’s what I like about ASDAN’s framework – you can tailor it to your group.” 

Group of young learners around a classroom table with two teachers

Prepares young people to transition into adulthood 

“We have 12 students preparing to transition to local colleges and ASDAN’s qualifications have definitely prepared them to succeed in that transition,” says Marian.  

ASDAN qualifications are an important part of the atmosphere we create in this college – they just fit perfectly into what we offer. If you’re an education provider thinking about delivering an ASDAN course – go for it!” 

Young man with Downs Syndrome in a red jumper laughing

Please contact if you have been inspired and would like to work with us to share your centre's success story. Or find out more about ASDAN’s Personal Progress or Personal and Social Development qualifications.