HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 cc494-5W
Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has to liaise with universities and colleges with a view to assisting those with dyslexia into further education and higher education; and if he will make a statement. [4203]

Mr. Jonathan Evans

None. Guidance to the Welsh funding councils on their responsibilities for students with learning difficulties was set out in separate letters dated 5 May 1992 and 27 May 1992, paragraphs 22–24 and 28–32 respectively. Copies of both letters have been placed in the Library of the House.

Section 4 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 specifies how the Further Education Funding Council for Wales must discharge its further education duties—sections 2 and 3 of the Act—in relation to students having learning difficulties. It required the FEFCW to have regard to the requirements of those with learning difficulties and to arrange placements for them in independent specialist institutions where appropriate; it also defines a learning difficulty for the purposes of the Act.

In practice, the FEFCW makes funds available to colleges of further education to secure provision appropriate for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. This provision can be discreet programmes in independent living skills or it can be to support inclusion on mainstream programmes of study. Assistance for students with dyslexia is generally of the latter kind. The FEFCW also makes available funds to colleges to diagnose dyslexia and support students by providing specialist tutorials and equipment. In addition, the FEFCW has allocated funds specifically to promote on-course support for students with functional literacy needs. One of the most successful colleges in diagnosing dyslexia among students and offering support is Deeside college, which is the only college in the UK registered to use the Irlan diagnostic methodology developed in the USA.

In addition to the above, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 places a duty on the FEFCW to require further education colleges to publish disability statements about the provision of facilities for education made by a college in respect of people with disabilities. A copy of Welsh Office circular 48/96, setting out the FEFCW's and colleges' responsibilities in this area, is also in the Library. The governing bodies of higher education institutions are required to provide disabled students with a description of the facilities for education and research that they offer.

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