FdA Learning Support for Further, Adult and Vocational Education

Top in Wales for Career Prospects in Education. Guardian League Table 2023

This course provides a recognised professional and academic qualification for a career within ‘Learning Support’ across the Further, Adult and Vocational Education (FAVE) sector, delivering employment-focused learning experience for students

The course, its content, and the qualification students can go on to achieve, have been developed in response to a Welsh Government initiative to recognise and qualify the ‘Learning Support’ workforce across the FAVE sector, as outlined within the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Transformation Bill.

With a long-established reputation for teacher education across the FAVE sector in Wales (also referred to as Post Compulsory Education and Training - PcET), the University of South Wales is committed to developing and supporting a socially diverse educational workforce of learning support assistants. This is the first qualification that specifically focuses on learning support within a Further Education context within Wales.

The course will prepare and develop your knowledge, skills and confidence as a learning support professional within the FAVE sector. You will learn how to better support your learners, through research and practice-informed tuition and support, and work with your peers across the FAVE sector (as well as professionals within both Learning Support and Teacher Education) to become an adaptive and resilient practitioner through the development of professional values and behaviours that have the learner at their core.

The ethos of widening participation is at the heart of FAVE, as it aims to create accessible learning opportunities for a diverse range of learners, such as school leavers, adult learners, those in work and seeking work, and those engaging in continuing professional development, across a broad curriculum that includes learning for vocational, academic, leisure or enrichment purposes.

Top in Wales for graduate prospects in Education. (Complete University Guide 2023)

If you have any queries about this course, please email [email protected]

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
N/A Part-time 3 Years September Newport City C

The course builds on the long-established tradition of expertise and practice that the University of South Wales has in post-compulsory teacher education in Newport, situated in the heart of the community and responsive to the professional and employment needs of the local community and the wider region.

The Foundation Degree of the Arts (FdA) – Learning Support (Further, Adult and Vocational Education) consists of twelve 20 credit modules:

  • 20 credits at Level 3
  • 120 credits at Level 4
  • 100 credits at Level 5


Part-time: Year 1 of study

  • Me, myself and I – 20 credits (Level 3)
  • Introduction to learning support – 20 credits (Level 4)
  • Developing resources for learning support – 20 credits (Level 4)
  • Practice-based learning 1 – 20 credits (Level 4)

Part-time: Year 2 of study

  • Equality, diversity and inclusivity in education – 20 credits (Level 5)
  • Planning for learning support – 20 credits (Level 4)
  • Language and literacies for learning – 20 credits (Level 5)
  • Practice-based learning 2 – 20 credits (Level 4)

Part-time: Year 3 of study

  • Developing positive relationships for learning support – 20 credits (Level 5)
  • Partnerships in learning support 3 – 20 credits (Level 5)
  • Case study of a learner – 20 credits (Level 5)
  • Practice-based learning 3 – 20 credits (Level 4)


The USW PcET team has a diverse wealth of experience from across the PcET sector, including Further, Adult and Community Education and the voluntary sector in Wales and England, and from across the PcET curriculum.

The teaching team are committed to research-informed teaching, and some are actively engaged in doctoral research.

A typical study day would be 7 hours in duration.

The qualification will be delivered using a blended approach with a combination of face-to-face learning sessions, placement-situated learning and online tutorials/professional dialogues. This approach provides an enhanced model of reflection which is key to your development.


The assessment strategy for this course is innovative and provides a breadth and variety of assessment techniques.  Examples include:

  • Visual journals
  • Professional dialogues
  • The use of educational technology in assessment design

The course is assessed by coursework only.


Each student will undertake a practice placement for 50 hours for each of the Practice-Based Learning modules (total of 150 hours across the qualification). 

All of the modules are designed to inform, support and develop the placement and practice element of the course, and will typically involve the following activities:

  • observation of experienced learning support practitioners
  • taking part in planning and other staff meetings
  • discussion of action research project
  • being observed whilst in practice (by practice mentors and/or course tutors)
  • feedback discussions with observer after practice assessed observation

It will be the responsibility of the student to source and agree a suitable placement that is approved by the course team before the commencement of the course.  There is support available from the PcET Placement Team for those students who are having difficulty securing a placement.

The placement (learning support practice) provides a number of opportunities: 

  • to experience and to manage a range of duties that is typical of the work of a Learning Support professional
  • to develop understanding of theories of learning and group behaviour, and to start to use insights from the literature to inform their practice;
  • to develop sensitivity and insight regarding the diverse learning needs and additional support needs of learners and to commit to developing understanding and skills in this area;
  • to provide learner support for individuals or groups of learners;
  • to provide guidance and advice on supporting learning;
  • to review and plan support programmes for individuals or groups of learners
  • to promote access to and participation in learning
  • to maintain records such as attendance and progress
  • to participate in review and planning meetings


You will study at the modern Newport campus overlooking the riverfront in the city centre. 

We have attractive and flexible learning spaces and a number of computer suites which will provide you with authentic learning opportunities.  You will also undertake a practice-based placement within a FAVE setting.



The support you receive during your time studying at USW will help you to manage and understand the demands aligned with being a learning support professional in professional practice within the FAVE sector. 

During your induction and throughout your course, you will be supported with your social, emotional and physical wellbeing by our expert support staff and teams. This support includes counselling, mental health, wellbeing, disabilities, advice around course progress, money and finances,  alongside many others support functions.

At USW, Personal Academic Coaching acts as a pastoral support mechanism that you will access throughout the course in both individual and group sessions. These sessions have been designed so that every student can build close professional relationships with a specified member of the course team, and with a small sub-group of peers. The tutorial provides a regular space and opportunity for an individual to raise issues so that early intervention can be implemented, and barriers to learning overcome wherever possible.

The placement mentor also plays a critical role in monitoring your wellbeing. You are encouraged to develop a close professional relationship with these mentees, and to discuss any concerns over wellbeing with the student teacher and the university personal tutor as required. Student teachers are also encouraged to explore the availability of support structures such as learning coaches and disability support for whilst they are at their placement institution.

The course has been planned and structured to ensure that the assessment and workload is evenly distributed across the academic year to further support student wellbeing

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

For entry to the full-time pathway, successful applicants must hold a learning support qualification such as Maximising Practice of Teaching Assistants (MPTA), or equivalent.  The qualification provides the foundation learning for an applicant considering to develop further. It is noted that the PcET team will develop a standalone module that would provide the relevant and necessary scaffolding for entry to the full-time route.  This will be validated prior to the start date of the course.

For entry to the part-time pathway, successful applicants will need to be employed within a learning support context in a FE setting.

Entry criteria detail typical offers but USW considers all applications on an individual basis which means that we could make offers based on qualifications, personal profile and experience. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed may also be acceptable.

  • Typical A-Level Offer – DD
  • Typical BTEC Offer - relevant BTEC level 3 profile of Merit/Pass or Pass/Pass/Pass
  • Typical Welsh Baccalaureate Offer - Grade C and DE at A Level
  • Typical Access to HE Offer - Pass Diploma with 60 credits overall to include 45 level 3 credits all Passes

Additionally, GCSE passes in three subjects at grade C or above to include Mathematics and English Language (or equivalent).

We assess oral communication and interpersonal skills as an integral part of the interview process. Applicants are also asked to bring an example of assessed academic/formal writing wherever possible, so that we can ensure the course is right for them.

An enhanced DBS check and registration with the Update Service is also required for this course – details will be sent to applicants at the appropriate time.

All applicants who meet the entry requirements for this course will be requested to attend an interview.


Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Part-time UK:  £720 per 20 credits

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Travel to Placements / Placement costs *
Costs of travelling to placements and any additional costs levied by placements
DBS * £55.42
This fee includes £44 for the enhanced DBS certificate, the Post Office Administration fee and the online administration fee.
DBS Updating Service £13
Whilst optional, it is strongly recommended signing up for this service, especially as there is a placement aspect within each year of study. It is also recommended should a student wish to pursue a career post-University where a DBS check is a requirement. Please note the service has to be joined within 30 days of receipt of your enhanced DBS certificate.

UK students

Apply via UCAS or apply directly if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International and EU students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK. 

Admissions statement

This course is aimed at providing a recognised qualification that is underpinned by practice in response to the statutory requirements for a suitably qualified learning support workforce as per the Additional Learning Needs transformation programme in Wales (Welsh Government, 2017)

The course is designed to enhance your employability in ‘Learning Support’ roles in Further, Adult and Voluntary Education sectors. If you are already in a position within the industry, the skills and qualification gained can improve your career prospects.

Typical career paths and job opportunities include:

  • Learning Support Assistants
  • Learning Support Coordinators
  • ALN/SpLD roles

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW foundation degree student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes one-to-one appointments from faculty-based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.