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Foundation studies

Everyone should have the chance to achieve their best. Discover our supported foundation and foundation programmes, for learners who need additional support.

Our foundation programmes meet the needs of a broad range of learners; from those with special educational needs or disabilities, to those who may have disengaged from learning in the past or not achieved their full potential. 

Opportunities for learners

Our learners have the opportunity to learn independent living and self-care skills, employability skills, digital literacy, English and maths, and in some cases, take part in work experience - depending on the programme they choose.

We work closely with colleagues from across our colleges, offering learners the opportunity to progress into new vocational areas. Our partnerships with external organisations and employers are central to equipping learners for successful futures. They include:

  • supported internships with Royal Berkshire Hospital, Mencap and Oxfordshire Employment Services
  • supported employment provision via specialist agency
  • work with two local authorities
  • more than 200 employers providing work experience
  • close links with special schools 

Our learning companies

In addition, we provide learners with the opportunity to develop vital employability and independence skills through our learning companies. These are social enterprises run by staff at students, and include on-campus shops and delivery services.

An award-winning education

Activate Learning have recently been recognised for the work we do to inspire special needs students into employment with a coveted education award. The Association of Colleges' Beacon Awards 'Support for Students' prize 2019 recognises our innovative partnership programme for young people with special educations needs and disabilities. Read more about the award here


Activate Learning is proud of the outstanding and award-winning Supported Foundation Programmes which offer students the opportunity to develop in the exciting setting of a mainstream further education college. Highly-skilled and specialist teams strive for excellent outcomes for our young people through tailored programmes.

  • Supported Foundation - Tier 2: This programme is for learners with learning difficulties or disabilities who are working towards supported or independent living. Learners will develop skills in food hygiene, food preparation, self-advocacy, travel training, personal care, English and maths, digital literacy and more.

  • Supported Foundation - Tier 3: This programme is for learners with learning difficulties who are working towards supported employment or an internship. Learners will develop employability and independent living skills through work experience, digital literacy and citizenship learning.

Student case study - Rachel, Reading College

Contact us about Supported Foundation Programmes



Foundation programmes at Tier 4 and 5 are for learners who may have been disengaged from learning, underachieving, or unsure about their study choices.

  • Foundation - Tier 4: This programme is for learners who have been disengaged from learning or underachieving, and who want to try different vocational options. Learners will develop vocational and employability skills, including English and maths, digital literacy and citizenship learning. Work experience is part of this programme.

  • Foundation - Tier 5: This programme is for learners who need to develop their personal and social skills to achieve success. Learners will also take part in an introduction to a chosen vocational area at Level 1. The programme includes personal and social development, employability skills, work experience, English and maths, digital literacy and citizenship. 

Vocational foundation study routes

Learners can follow one of the following vocational routes available at each of our colleges. Please note, at Bracknell and Wokingham College, Foundation Programmes combine multiple subject areas and vocational routes.

  • Beauty therapy
  • Business
  • Computing
  • Childcare
  • Construction
  • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Hairdressing and barbering
  • Health and social care
  • Hospitality and professional cookery
  • Media and gaming 
  • Motor vehicle
  • Performing and production arts
  • Protective services
  • Sports
  • Tourism 
  • Visual arts and design

Industry partners

We work in close partnership with a number of organisations to provide excellent teaching and learning for our students, including: Optalis choices for living, Project Search, Westgate Oxford, Oxfordshire Employment Service (part of Oxfordshire County Council), Big Lottery Fund and OxLEP.