How Colleges Are Improving Support For Students With Additional Needs

Starting college or university can be a stressful time for every student but especially for students with additional needs.

A student would be classed as requiring Special Educational Needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which requires special educational provisions to be made for them, and they may also have a disability which falls under the Equality Act. 

Colleges and schools have specific statutory duties when it comes to supporting students with additional needs, but many have made it a priority to provide extra support and have dedicated teams who are able to offer advice, support and guidance.

Newcastle College in Newcastle upon Tyne is one such college offering pastoral and academic support for all students with a team of Learning Mentors who work with all students to help them develop the skills and behaviours needed to progress beyond college.

The level of support on offer was praised in the latest Newcastle College Ofsted report, particularly the support available for learners with high needs.

Here are some of the ways colleges such as Newcastle College are supporting students with additional needs.

Neurodiversity Support Teams

Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. This includes young people with labels such as Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyscalculia, Autism or Tourettes. Each person with these conditions face their own challenges and a neurodiversity support team will assess and take each person's abilities and challenges into account

A person with ADHD may face organisation struggles, whilst someone on the Autistic spectrum may have problems with the transition from school to college and a timetable. Support can come in many forms, such as mentoring, provision of assistive equipment or providing a safe and secure space on campus.

Disability Support

Whilst physical disabilities are more visible, they also come with individual support requirements. Many will have access requirements, whilst others may need assistance with medication, assistive technology, or more personal care. Support such as this is usually arranged through an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP), but again, many schools and colleges offer additional support to ensure student wellbeing.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology (AT) can really help those with additional needs reach their full potential, by helping the student become independent in their learning.

The technology ranges from mouse and keyboard alternatives to portable magnifiers, Dictaphones, automatic page-turners, voice recognition technology and specially adapted pencil grips.

Additional Support at College

Many educational institutions have put learning support at the forefront of what they offer, ensuring they are able to cater to almost any student need and provide a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Newcastle College has a Learning Support Team which works with students who have a wide range of needs including sensory, wellbeing, autism and learning or physical disabilities. The team also offers support with Dyslexia and exam access arrangements. A dedicated Assistive Technology Team offer transcription adapted materials and specialist equipment.

When you think that 300,000 children have additional needs, being able to turn to a support team is vital for them to progress into further or higher education and get their most out of college or university. 

*Collaborative post


  1. I work in the SEN team at a secondary school and I love working with our students. So glad to hear the help continues at the next level too!

  2. It's good to hear about so many different SEN needs being accommodated with a range of techniques and strategies.