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Towards Independence: ASDAN launches review of popular SEND programme

ASDAN has undertaken a full review of its Towards Independence programme to update its content and ensure it continues to positively impact and create meaningful outcomes for young people with diverse needs. 

From Monday 1 July 2024, the new Towards Independence materials will be available to order, ready for September delivery.

Towards Independence provides a framework of activities to develop and accredit personal, social, work-related and independent living skills. With over 70 modules, the programme offers formal recognition for small steps of personal achievement towards individual goals for adults and learners approaching adulthood.  

The programme is designed for learners working towards Entry level 1 and contains modules meeting a range of abilities for individuals with severe and moderate learning difficulties (SLD and MLD) and profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).  

Delivered in a wide range of settings, Towards Independence is a popular programme for educators helping learners work through the preparing for adulthood (PfA) pathways.  

ASDAN’s review of Towards Independence will ensure that the course’s tutor guidance, training and supporting resources are fit for purpose and provide young people with the best opportunity to progress towards adulthood.

A person-centred curriculum shaped by teachers 

In March 2024, we sent a survey to our members asking them to share their experiences of delivering Towards Independence. Members’ feedback will be instrumental in informing the programme’s improvements. Following the survey, we invited members to participate in a focus group, offering a professional development opportunity to be directly involved in shaping a new, accessible programme for young people internationally.  

We were delighted by the response to the invitation and have held five focus groups meetings this spring.  

Our Development Manager, Angharad Crane, details the rationale of this review and the importance of working in collaboration with our members: 

“Our refresh and review of Towards Independence will ensure that the course’s content, tutor guidance, training and supporting resources are up to date and enhanced to provide young people with the best opportunity to progress towards adulthood within an interest-led curriculum. Throughout this review, our passion and focus is on increasing opportunities and accessibility, and supporting best practice for our members,” says Angharad.

Our Programmes, Development and Design team identified six areas of development for the Towards Independence review. These areas have been informed by feedback from ASDAN members. Our focus groups formed a creative space for further feedback and co-construction of the new materials and we’re delighted to hear from the learners themselves whose voices have enabled meaningful content development. The programme’s six areas of development are as follows: 

  • Content update

The first iteration of ASDAN’s Towards Independence was published in the 1990s and the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) landscape has come a long way since then with new guidance documents around the Key Stages, an engagement model, Gatsby Benchmarks and education, health and care plans (EHCPs). Our review will ensure that Towards Independence complements the current SEND education landscape, uses correct terminology and is accessible to a diverse range of needs and abilities. 

  • Starting out module 

The first module, Starting out, is mandatory. This module enables learners to recognise achievements and plan targets and challenges, which can then be developed through further modules. Reviewing this module is an opportunity for best practice and to establish co-constructive planning methods through the use of a person-centred toolkit. A sensory version of this mandatory planning module will be available. 

  • Resources and design 

To ensure that teachers feel confident in delivering Towards Independence, we want to improve the content and design of both the learner and practitioner supporting documents, including creating more targeted resource packs. This update will include enhancing the digitalisation and access of the programme to ensure more young people with complex needs can benefit from a personalised curriculum.

  • Sensory suite 

The available sensory modules will be developed to meet higher expectations and fill any gaps in Preparing for Adulthood outcomes and SEND areas of need. Improvement will include new sensory versions of modules such as Making choices, Numeracy, Exploring work, Travel, Relationships and Engagement. 

  • Relationships modules 

A review of the current Relationships module will include updated terminology to meet Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) standards and will be adding sections to the current module to include topics around consent. To maximise accessibility and engagement, we will be developing a sensory version of the Relationships module and will be creating a resource pack to support the delivery of these topics.  

  • Work-related modules 

We will be reviewing the current employability suite of Towards Independence modules to make them more flexible and well informed with supporting resources for a wider range of sectors. We’ll be enriching the module’s activities using the Gatsby Benchmarks and The Universal Framework skills as well as adding new employability skills development and rights and responsibilities sections. We will also develop a sensory module named Exploring work to ensure learners with PMLD can engage meaningfully. 

New Towards Independence products will be available to order from 1 July 2024 to arrive ready for the start of the academic year in September.

Our Towards Independence: changes for 2024 document outlines how the modules have been updated and developed following feedback from our members, as well as the titles of brand new modules created. There are now 88 modules available for you and your learners to choose from.

To find out more about the programme and how it could benefit your learners, visit our Towards Independence page or get in touch