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Home > News > December 2006 > 06 December 2006

LSC launches Disability Equality Scheme

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has launched its first Disability Equality Scheme to promote equality of opportunity within Further Education (FE) and the learning and skills sector.

The scheme aims to ensure that equality and diversity values are embedded across the sector by laying down a set of commitments and an action plan to improve provision over the next three years.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of Dyslexia Action and chair of the LSC's Equality and Diversity Committee, launched the scheme. She said: "This scheme is the start of a new era in equality and diversity policy. It demonstrates a clear commitment to ensuring that the needs of disabled people are met by all education and training providers and we are hopeful that it will have a significant impact across the sector.

"For the first time, we require our policies to change and adapt to include disabled people, rather than asking disabled people to make do."

The scheme builds on the LSC's recent 'Talk to Des' campaign. Over the last five months the LSC has been gathering feedback and opinion from disabled learners, their carers, representatives and other key partners on how to make education more user-friendly.

Lee Probert, the LSC's director of equality and diversity said: "We are committed to listening to all learners to ensure changes are made for their benefit. Nearly 1,500 people responded to our electronic 'Talk to Des' survey. This unique insight has helped ensure our future work is relevant for those it is targeted to help and this connection with disabled learners is vital to the future success of the scheme."

Chris Banks, chairman of the LSC and disability equality duty champion for FE said: "It is the LSC's job to make sure that all young people and adults - whatever their background - have the opportunity to get the skills they need to succeed in work and in life. However, disabled people are still twice as likely as non-disabled people to have no qualifications and half of disabled people of working age are not in employment. In this day and age this is unacceptable, and we must work to promote disability equality throughout the FE sector."

The LSC says key commitments in the scheme include:

  • Complying with and promoting the Government's disability equality duty
  • Reaching out to those with low skills who are not currently involved in learning
  • Improving access to different types of learning
  • Improving learners' experience of the education and training they undertake
  • Ensuring that learners succeed and can progress in a way that matches their abilities and aspirations
  • Acting as an organisation that harnesses the talents of all, and does not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment

Bill Rammell, the minister for higher, further education and lifelong learning said: "This Government is strongly committed to ensuring that learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities have access to high quality suitable learning opportunities that offer real progression. We want them to have the same options in learning and work as everyone and to be able to progress as far as their talents and efforts will take them.

"Recent legislation has led to steady improvements in securing access to appropriate provision for learners with disabilities which meets their needs and which provides, where appropriate, the additional support they require to undertake it. A new cross Government group has been set up and will launch a joint-strategy next year for further improvements in provision and partnership working."

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