Collaborative working and supporting under-represented groups is at the heart of Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY). GHWY became aware disabled students can fall off a cliff between Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) and responded with a collaborative output.
There exists a vast amount of generic advice to help students transition to HE. However, this often overlooks the unique experience of disabled students. The move to HE is a huge journey. However, for disabled students the transition to HE can be especially complex and a challenge to navigate. This is due to increased independence; different expectations in FE and HE; and how the language and terminology used for disability and support varies in HE. Therefore, disabled learners may not access the support they need and/or know what questions to ask.
Working collaboratively across a group of FE and HE providers, GHWY recently launched a Transition Pack for Disabled Learners. This is designed to raise awareness of how disabled students can access appropriate guidance when progressing from FE into HE. Our transition pack receives praise for humanising this transition by bringing in lived experience through embedding the student quotes/voice of those who have already made the transition to HE.
The pack aims to encourage practitioners, students and parent/carers to understand how a diagnosis (or awaiting of a diagnosis) translates in HE; informs of the Disabled Students Allowance (government grant in United Kingdom (UK)); and provides a roadmap of the HE application process from start to finish. Alongside the transition pack, we commissioned a literature review conducted by Advance HE for an overview of Disabled Learners research to support our work in this area.
Participants can expect a virtual tour of the transition pack including the key recommendations to support Disabled Learners. This session will also highlight the strategic objectives of the pack including a focus on GHWY’s approach towards dissemination. Audience members will be able to share their thoughts on developing the HE Disabled Students Transition Pack via an interactive online platform.
Our transition pack content is UK centred and based on the UK educational system. However, there are generic learnings on supporting disabled students: open lines of communications; listening to daily realities of students; and understanding the impact of systems and policies on those who trying to navigate them.
Tahera Mayat (Collaborative Outreach Officer) has worked at Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) for just over a year. Prior to that, Tahera was undertaking her PhD and worked as an Education Outreach Fellow (both at the University of Leeds). During her PhD, Tahera also engaged in some teaching assistance work with a focus on inclusive teaching and has Associate Fellow status of Advance HE. In her role at GHWY, Tahera co-ordinates the Access and Participation Strategy Group and the Under-Represented Groups at GHWY. Tahera also contributes to communications - whether writing articles on the work of GHWY’s under-represented groups for their newsletters or supporting relevant campaigns, such as, Learning Disability Week. As part of GHWY’s commitment to supporting disabled students, Tahera designed and delivered a talk on designing inclusive content with positive feedback.
John Hague (Area Manager) has now worked for Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) for over four years and recently became project lead for Disabled Learners as part of GHWY’s Underrepresented Group work within the Uni Connect Programme funded by OfS (Office for Students). After graduating from the University of Leeds with an MA in Music and Music Psychology, John’s passion for outreach work progressed as his previous roles include Higher Education Progression Officer (based at St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School in Wakefield), Project Officer and Area Manager. With an established passion for working with Disabled Learners, John is always keen to identify new ways to support learners with additional needs and support student progress. GHWY are keen to ensure Disabled Learners are enabled with optimal support to feel welcomed and established within Higher Education.