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Top five courses for young people with SEND

In celebration of Learning Disability Week in June (17-23), we are excited to highlight the top five ASDAN courses designed to support young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The theme for this years’ Learning Disability Week is ‘Do you see me?’ and at ASDAN, we do. We see you! 

Since 1991, our mission has been to empower young people with diverse needs through practical, interest-led learning. We’ve been at the forefront of alternative education across the UK and we care passionately about accessible education for all and developing courses and qualifications for young people with SEND.

1. Towards Independence  

Towards Independence is a programme specifically developed for learners with severe learning difficulties (SLD) and profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). Members choose to deliver Towards Independence because: 

  • there are over 70 modules of practical, adaptable activities  
  • the programme provides formal recognition for small steps of personal achievement  
  • they have the flexibility to choose relevant modules based on individual interests and needs  
  • modules link to preparing for adulthood pathways, helping learners achieve outcomes stated in EHCPs  
  • members benefit from tutor guidance, training and supporting resources such as an evidence tracker and person-centred toolkit empower educators to get the best outcomes for young people progressing towards adulthood 

Social care provider Sense Scotland started delivering ASDAN’s Towards Independence to recognise and celebrate the skills and knowledge of learners aged 18 and over, in locations across the country, including Glasgow, Dundee, Fife and Aberdeenshire. 

“Many of our learners achieve things you would never have expected, whether it is doing woodwork, undertaking activities in the community, holding events or learning to play a musical instrument,” says Anne Sutherland, ASDAN Coordinator at Sense Scotland. 

“We wanted to find a flexible and engaging course that would enable the accomplishments of learners, some of whom have profound learning difficulties, to be recognised and certificated. Towards Independence has been a great programme for us and has met our needs.” 

Are you trying to work out if this could be a good fit for your learners? We’ve created a helpful document that showcases all Towards Independence module titles and how they address key SEND areas of need. 

For those seeking a qualification outcome, Towards Independence can be used to support the delivery of the Entry 1 qualifications in Personal Progress – download this mapping document for details.

Image with purple background and two ASDAN student book covers, once called Starting out and the other called Animal care

2. Personal Progress 

Covering units across topics of employment, independent living, health and community inclusion, ASDAN’s Personal Progress qualifications have been designed to address the needs of learners with SEND who are working at Entry level 1. The qualifications ensure that all learners are given the same opportunities to access appropriate and relevant education to develop new skills and improve their life outcomes.   

“After looking at several pathways, we felt that ASDAN’s Personal Progress, qualifications were an ideal fit for our learners. Personal Progress allowed the continuing development of skills within subjects like maths and English, but it used very real and hands-on experiences to do so, such as activities related to shopping, road safety and visiting local community facilities,” says Wyre Forest School’s Upper Phase Leader, Rachel Wright. 

She went on to say that “Personal Progress has helped learners develop their communication skills, allowing them the freedom to explore and investigate the world around them. The qualification has supported them in forming their own opinions and being able to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others in an appropriate way.” 

Read the full success story of Wyre Forest School. 

Young man in a red tartan shirt smiling at the camera with the cover of an ASDAN Personal Progress Qualification Specification to the left

3. Supporting Aspirations  

Supporting Aspirations is a person-centred curriculum mapped to the preparing for adulthood pathways. The aim of the Supporting Aspirations programme is to build the confidence of young people with PMLD and to better plan for good life outcomes. 

Supporting Aspirations has been developed alongside the four preparing for adulthood pathways, each pathway comprises three modules: 

  • friends, relationships and community 
  • employment 
  • good health 
  • independent living 

The module outcomes are based on what needs to be in place for a young person with PMLD to plan for the future and make a successful transition to new opportunities at college, adult social care, training programmes, employment or in supported living. 

We created a film to explain how the programme has been designed to help young people with SEND develop a breadth of outcomes required to live independently and achieve good life outcomes. Watch of the video on our YouTube

Girl with glasses in a leotard waving her hands and smiling

4. Personal and Social Development  

Our Personal and Social Development (PSD) qualifications offer imaginative ways of supporting young people in: 

  • becoming confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy 
  • being responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and embrace change 
  • managing risk together with their own wellbeing 

as well as introducing them to new activities and personal challenges. 

We spoke to Lesley-Ann Hetherington, Head of Learning for Life and Work at Integrated College Dungannon, to hear how PSD has worked for her and her learners. 

“PSD provides a refreshing alternative for the GCSE learners,” said Lesley-Ann. “Because assessment in PSD is based on a portfolio of evidence, it gives learners another way of evidencing their achievements as well as providing relief to those who do not thrive under assessment by exam. 

“I enjoy delivering PSD because there is such a wide variety of units to choose from. This, along with the flexibility of the course, ensures we meet the needs of each learner. Next year, my aim is for all our students to do PSD to complement their GCSE studies.” 

With awards and certificate options for Entry 1, 2 and 3, as well as, Level 1 and 2, there is something for all learners needs. 

Orange background with two book covers of ASDAN's Personal and Social Development standards with guidance

5. Personal Development Programme  

Our Personal Development Programmes (PDP: Bronze, Silver and Gold) offer imaginative ways for learners with SEND to develop, record, and certificate a wide range of young people’s personal qualities, abilities and achievements, as well as introducing them to new activities and challenges.  

PDP is comprised of 13 modules including Communication, World of work, Science and technology, with 192 engaging and creative challenges that can be adapted for every learner! 

This broad, activity-based course has a track record in developing learners’ personal, social and employability skills. 

“ASDAN’s Personal Development Programmes have allowed us to embed learners’ personal goals and interests into their timetable and have also raised students’ attainment in core subjects,” says Elise Howe, ASDAN Instructor at Wings School Notts. 

There are so many benefits for learners undertaking PDP: 

  • Boost learners’ confidence by helping them recognise and develop their personal qualities and abilities  
  • Empower students by giving them ownership of their learning 
  • Broaden learners’ experiences through a wide range of challenges  
  • Reward achievement through certification for 10 hours of work upwards  
  • Structure activities inside and outside of school with a ready-made curriculum 

Image of young person kayaking with a yellow paddle. A book over of ASDAN's Personal Development Programmes course is on the right of the image.

We hope you found this list of our top courses useful, and now know a little more about our SEND offering and how our programmes and qualifications can benefit the young people you work with.  

We have many more courses to suit a diverse range of needs and education setting. Want to find out more? Explore ASDAN's full SEND provision today.