FdA Learning Support - University of Portsmouth

Learning Support

Part Time3yrs

Learn from practitioners from a range of backgrounds

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Would you like to develop your knowledge and critical understanding of supporting learning and take your education support role to the next level? If so this course is for you. The Foundation degree in Learning Support is designed for current and aspiring Teaching Assistants who wish to gain a professional recognition via a university level qualification. 

You will apply for the course through the University of Portsmouth’s website, and you can choose to study at one of our partnership colleges – Alton, Chichester, Eastleigh, Isle of Wight,  St Vincent'sSouthampton City College, Stanmore College or Fareham College (subject to approval).

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Study alongside your existing learning support role (whether you are in a general or special educational needs setting, in a school, college or other educational institution)
  • Experience a range of dynamic and professionally relevant teaching from highly experienced staff
  • Learn in supportive study groups with other practitioners from a range of backgrounds.
  • Discover ways in which you can take your learning into your practice

Whilst you are based in one of our partner colleges, you are a University of Portsmouth student and are therefore able to access a range of our facilities here.

What opportunities might it lead to?

Achievement of the foundation degree provides a recognition of both professional and academic achievement.   Successful completion of this course gives you the option to progress to an appropriate BA degree, such as the BA (Hons) Education Studies offered at the University of Portsmouth. It may also be used as a stepping stone to Qualified Teacher Status or to promotion in learning support roles. 


Alex Oliver, FdA Learning Support student

During my time on the FDA Learning Support course I have had the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and develop my practice. The support from the tutors and staff has been outstanding. They are always there when you need them. The course itself has developed my thinking and the dynamics of how I approach my job. I have a better understanding on many things including: how pupils learn, the reasons why behaviours are shown and the history of education.

Alex Oliver, FdA Learning Support student


Education, Childhood and Youth Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Hands-on opportunities to work in a relevant educational setting
  • The support available to all students
  • The flexibility of unit options that enable you to tailor your study to your own interests

Browse all courses in Education, Childhood and Youth Studies

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Structure & Teaching

The course is designed to encompass the wide range of topics associated with being a learning support professional. Students are encouraged to continually reflect on their studies and relate their learning to their professional roles. Some of the topics covered in the course include:

  • Strategies for supporting learner’s individual needs, understanding the range of special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Investigating theories of learning and understanding their use to support learning.
  • Exploring assessment and its impact on learning
  • Social and emotional needs of students
  • Developing support for numeracy and literacy

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

We have a well-established reputation for providing stimulating and academically rewarding courses and our tutors are committed practitioners who will guide you through your study.

Teaching will be in groups of 10 to 15 and will include group activities and seminars as well as more formal lectures.

Each unit of study will require you to reflect on your work based practice. You will be encouraged to identify a critical friend in your workplace who will be able to support you through the course.

Use of specialists from the learning support sector where appropriate will ensure that you receive current knowledge and expertise.

Library support: Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of e-journals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

How are you assessed?

There are no final exams. Instead, each unit has its own assessment focus, which will be one of the following:

  • essays
  • case studies
  • reflective reports
  • research projects

You will be given clear guidance for all assignments. 

Tutor's view


Chris Neanon
FdA Learning Support

This innovative course focuses on your professional role and will enable you to develop your knowledge and critical understanding of the workplace. It is used by students as a stepping stone to Qualified Teacher Status and to an enhance professional status in your school.

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Facilities & Features

Study in SECS

The School comprises a body of enthusiastic staff with a range of expertise in the professional and academic sectors. We offer a welcoming learning environment, in a location near the heart of town, the student buildings and the sea front.

Academic Skills Unit (ASK)

ASK will help you become a successful university student. Our workshops are designed to improve a number of essential academic skills from essay writing and understanding plagiarism to revision and exam techniques. This is a great way to enhance your academic performance and make a smooth transition into university study.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

If you are successful in the Foundation degree, you can apply for direct entry to level three of the BA (Hons) Education and Training Studies where you will study educational issues from a wide perspective including sociological issues and professional practice, alongside carrying out an in-depth personal study.

Many students have successfully followed this route into Qualified Teacher Status by completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, embarking on the School Centred Initial Teacher Training Programme (SCITT) or the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP). Others have used the qualification to gain promotion in the teaching assistant role.

Advice from the University’s career service is available throughout your course and up to two years after you graduate and this is supplemented by input from local education authorities.

Please note that this degree does not currently make you eligible for entry to teacher training at secondary level.

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Students on this course are working in the education sector, and will be able to incorporate elements of their work into their learning. 

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

International Students

Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484