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10 May 2022

What are the education choices and opportunities for people with learning disabilities to continue their learning?

Kate Brackley works at Bild and is writing a series of blog posts. For this blog she talks about her experience of education and interviews Lara Holland from Bild for the Future (Bild’s lived experience advisory group) and Scott Watkin BEM, who has worked for many years advocating for, and with, people with learning disabilities.

Kate’s own experiences

I started my education at the age of five. I went to mainstream school as my Mum did not want me to go to a special school as she wanted me to be the same as everyone else.

Further into my school life I was building on my confidence and was able to access the special educational needs department as I was statemented. This meant I was able to get my GCSEs. Some people saw me as being different, they felt that I was receiving special treatment, so I got bullied because of this.

I did feel upset and became withdrawn, but I just continued with my learning and focused on my education.

My college days were a little better, although I did experience discrimination from some of the tutors. I gave up my dream of becoming a chef, but people recognised that I was more of a people’s person and felt that the way I interacted with the tutors and students should be used to give me a better chance of getting a job I would enjoy.

Impact of Covid

The Covid pandemic has had a big effect on education as people had to stop their education at school, college and universities due to all the lockdowns that happened, and therefore people had to be home schooled. This put pressure on parents to help them to learn and that must have caused so much stress for everyone.

During the lockdown Scott was working from home and also educating his daughter at home. It was very hard on the family and there was a lot of balancing between work and family life.

When the education sector re-opened and all the students went back to their schools and colleges they still had to be careful with the restrictions in place but they were able to carry on with their studies.

Most of the restrictions have gone now but some people are still anxious living and coping with Covid. This is so important in education settings as students want their studies to get back to normal so they can pass their exams and move forward, using the skills and talents they have learnt during their time in education.

How important is it for people with learning disabilities?

It is really important for people with learning disabilities to have a good education and the same rights to education as everybody else.


Scott says that it is important that people with learning disabilities are educated to make sure that they have good opportunities. People’s learning must be tailored to each individual’s needs, and teachers need the right skills to make sure that people are educated well and reach their potential.

Lara says that everybody deserves a good education to be given a chance to develop vital skills which will help them later in life.

People with learning disabilities have unique gifts and talents that not everyone else sees and sometimes people take advantage of this.

Education is important for everyone.

Were you supported to make your own decisions?

When I was young my Mum had to make the decisions for me.

When I left school I was at an age where I could make my own choices and decisions and I did have discussions with my Mum. At that point I did do further education at college, then I had to make a decision about my personal career. I chose to go into employment as no-one wanted me to go to university due to how hard university is, so that was why I chose to go into employment to change my life.

While Scott was in special education, he was supported to make his own decisions and to make his own choices. This was really good and helped him to learn and achieve his goals.

Lara went to a small school which was great, the school only had 90 students, and this meant that she was given more attention and able to make her own choices and decisions.

How important is it to you to get a good education? How has this helped you in your life?

It is so important for to get a good education as, from younger experience, all I wanted was to have the same education as everybody else and have the opportunity to gain qualifications, so I could get the same chance of a full-time paid job and a chance to change my life completely.

Scott has identified that it is really important to get the right education, to help to get vital skills and the confidence so people are ready for the big wide world.

A good education helped Scott to be a lot wiser and helped him get the job that he has today. He feels really good that he has the self-belief that has stayed with him for life.

Lara said that without a proper education you don’t learn things and won’t have the skills you need for later in life.

Writing this has helped me to gain confidence by sharing my experiences. So many people with learning disabilities want a good education but it isn’t always possible. Gaining confidence and vital skills that have helped me get a job at Bild is worth the work, and I can safely say that I enjoy my life the way that I want to and lead an independent life!