Special educational needs

Students use their laptop

How the Unit Award Scheme (UAS) helps your learners

The scheme:

  • rewards students for what they can do
  • recognises small steps of achievement
  • encourages, supports, engages and motivates
  • can acknowledge the support given to students.

Did you know?

  • Hundreds of special schools already use the UAS to recognise student achievements.
  • Over 4000 pre-entry level units are available to use.
  • You can write your own units.
  • Learners of any age or ability can use the UAS.

Sample units

Here are just some of the units available for Special Educational Needs (SEN) students:

We believe there is something for everyone with UAS.

Case study: Brunel and Burton Academies

Mandy Seymour, Teacher/SENCO, says:

I am the UAS coordinator in a small school for pupils permanently excluded from mainstream, 100% with an Education Health Care Plan and all within the main area of need in social, emotional and mental health. As a body our students struggle with attendance and being in learning spaces. They have all travelled a tough road to get to us and feel disaffected with education and their self-esteem is low and has a big effect on how they perceive learning and themselves as learners.

The AQA Unit Award Scheme has been fantastic for us; it enables us to teach groups or individuals on a wide variety of topics and to evidence to the students how well they can learn and they feel a real sense of achievement. One pupil, on completing some Entry 1, 2 and 3 Maths units (UAS can be used as a stepping stone towards the achievement of AQA’s Entry level certificates) stated, does this mean I could do a GCSE? When asked “what do you think?”, the answer was “I know I can now, I've got no excuse - you will just keep reminding me of all these certificates!”

We started using UAS last year and I claimed 250 certificates, across our 52 students. Once we knew what we were doing we have been able to create a curriculum that embeds UAS awards and so far this year I have claimed over 900 certificates, and by the end of the year this will be over a 1000. The award scheme makes this success possible by being:

  • well organised and efficient: claiming certificates is simple, the moderation process is fair and the feedback very helpful, the turnaround from claim to receiving the certificate is usually around a week and staff are always quick in replying to any queries or requests for support;
  • well resourced: the breadth of subject coverage is immense and very relevant as it is created by people working in educational settings with all types of young people, and the web site is well designed and well maintained making it a useful resource and easy to use;
  • excellent value for money: for a once yearly payment we have endless chances to get our young people feeling success – priceless! – and I love the fact that the more we use UAS the better value it becomes.

The units are extremely broad and easily differentiated using pre-entry level, entry level, level 1 and level 2. For example in all core subjects, science, maths and English, we have created a set of booklets that work through Entry Level 1, 2 and 3 and completion of this provides assessment of progress and evidence for the next steps which are, for us, the AQA Entry Level Certificate and eventually an iGCSE. Using the AQA Unit Awards linked to our curriculum, especially throughout Key Stage 3, has enabled us to build a flight path through core subjects which shows progress and achievement at every stage.

It has been a successful year and we have begun to replicate this process in every subject and next year will have AQA unit awards linked to our Art, History, PE, PSHE and Citizenship curriculum plans.

Staff tell me they appreciate:

  • the scope and flexibility of the awards
  • that the units give a clear set of outcomes
  • the clear differentiation in outcomes created through using the terms ‘experienced …’, ‘acquired an understanding of …’, ‘demonstrated the ability to …’ and ‘shown knowledge of …’
  • the wide subject coverage: although we have used hundreds of different units this year I have only had to write five myself
  • that gathering evidence is as simple or complicated as they want to make it.

Staff also appreciate that UAS acknowledge and trust teacher’s judgement in assessing by observation or discussion.

Our outreach staff who teach our most disaffected, off site, learners use UAS for everything - a basis of maths and English then a broad coverage, which has included things such as horse riding and climbing a wall. UAS provides a resource that can diversify and provide teaching and learning on any subject for staff and pupils that are rarely on site. As UAS coordinator my biggest learning curve was in how to simplify the process of showing evidence ready for claiming. Some of my simplest evolutions were the best, such as making sure staff provide a space to write the name and UAS unit number on every worksheet before photocopying – saves writing it 50 times! We have also created a set of stickers that say Outcome 1, 2, 3 etc which we can stick on relevant work showing which outcomes it covers. As coordinator this helps in make checking the evidence very simple.