This post first published: 11 November 2015
Disabled Students Allowances Guidance on Missed Sessions
It is BIS policy that DSAs-funding is not available for NMH sessions that are repeatedly not being used. In this context repeatedly will normally mean 2 or more booked sessions per NMH support role per term.
The 2015/16 DSAs guidance contained further information about this, clarifying that sessions cancelled by the HEI would be deemed to be the responsibility of the HEI and that sessions cancelled with more than 24 hours’ notice are not expected to be charged to DSAs.
Further clarification has been sought by the sector about what is considered to be a session. In order to be as fair as possible to the range of support providers we have agreed the following process.
A ‘session’ will be deemed to be the entire day.
Therefore a provider who has been booked to provide a support role at any point during that day will have an equal status. For each support role, that day will be deemed the first missed session. Similarly, where repeat sessions are booked during the day, all sessions for that support role will be deemed as a single session, but charges should not be made where the support provider is able to make alternative arrangements for the remainder of the day.
Any support that was not scheduled for that day will remain unaffected. No ‘missed sessions’ will be counted against unscheduled support for that day.
What does this mean in practice?
A student has four booked sessions during the day:
- Booked session 1 BSL + notetaker
- Booked session 2 BSL + notetaker + library assistant
- Booked session 3 BSL + mentoring
- Booked session 4 notetaker + study skills support.
All the BSL support booked for that day will be counted as one missed session for the purposes of DSAs-funding.
All the notetaking support booked for that day will be classed as one missed session for the purposes of DSAs-funding.
The same will apply for the library assistant, mentoring and study skills support.
The student has been also recommended to have workshop assistant support, but none was booked on this particular day, therefore any allocation of workshop assistant support remains unaffected.
What action should the support worker or service provider take?
At the first missed session, the support worker or service provider should make all reasonable efforts to contact the student to find out the reason for the student missing the session and confirm arrangements for the next session booked. The reason for the missed session should be included on the invoice or supporting timesheet. The support worker should not attend the next session until the arrangement is confirmed with the student. If the student states they no longer require the support, support should be terminated and SFE informed.
At the second missed session, the support worker or service provider should again make all reasonable efforts to contact the student to find out the reason for the student missing the session and confirm arrangements for the next session booked. Again the reason should be included on the invoice or supporting timesheet. The support worker should not attend the next session until the arrangement is confirmed with the student. If the student states they no longer require the support, support should be terminated and SFE informed.
The support worker should not suspend the student’s support if the student wishes to book a future session. If the support worker no longer wishes to continue providing the support, they should notify SFE immediately so that another support worker can be identified. Alternatively they should contact the disability adviser to discuss ongoing support.
What is deemed to be a term?
Generally the academic year falls into 3 terms/semesters. However, some courses have non-standard delivery models that do not fall into 3 periods.
For ease we will refer to terms. This refers to the study periods that run either side of the standard holidays i.e. September – December, January to April, and May to July/August. The start of the academic year is not relevant for this purpose.
DSAs-funding remains payable on a first come, first served basis. Therefore the scenario where a student is nearing the statutory cap and a number of support workers are requiring payment will still be managed on a first-come, first served basis. Providers are encouraged to submit invoices in a timely and regular manner to ensure payment can be made.
Whilst BIS acknowledges that exceptions may need to be considered, it is expected that providers and students are working together to minimise the number of missed sessions and that exceptions will only be considered rarely.
SFE will not suspend support after two missed sessions. It is assumed that the need for support continues and that sessions are being managed by the support worker and the student. However, payment will not be made for any missed sessions occurring beyond the first two, other than in exceptional circumstances. Currently there is no defined list of exceptional circumstances and SFE will consider these individually.
The role of the HEI disability adviser
Where there is consent to share information with the institution, support workers may wish to liaise with the disability adviser if it appears that the student is not managing their sessions effectively and sessions are regularly being cancelled or missed without cancellation. This may indicate other problems or may indicate that the student does not require, or is not satisfied with the support they have been recommended. Early intervention in such cases may result in different support being offered.
BIS/SLC will separately consider what action might be taken if the nature of the student’s disability is such that they might regularly need to miss booked sessions without warning. Study needs assessors should indicate on the needs assessment report if they identify that this is likely to occur.