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Transition Guide: From secondary school onwards (by NASEN)

From secondary school onwards

Schools should help pupils to start planning for their future adult life as early as possible, and by Year 9 at the latest. This should go beyond thinking simply about the transition to post-16 education and training. Schools should focus on raising aspirations and supporting pupils to achieve the best possible outcomes in education, employment, independent living and participation in society.

This could involve, for example:

  • including preparation for adulthood in planning meetings with parents and pupils at an early stage
  • making sure that careers advice and information provide high expectations and a wide range of options for pupils with SEND
  • helping pupils and parents to understand and explore how the support they receive in school will change as they move into different settings, and what support they are likely to need to achieve their ambitions.

Pupils with EHC plans

For pupils with EHC plans, from Year 9 onwards, the review meeting must consider what provision is required to assist them in preparing for adulthood and independent living.

Education providers and local authorities should support young people in a smooth transition to adulthood so that they:

  • are prepared when their EHC plan ends
  • understand what support is available after they complete their studies
  • are helped to prepare for employment, for example, supported in finding employment and job coaches and sourcing any welfare benefits that may be available
  • are helped to prepare for independent living, for example, given information about housing options and support in finding suitable accommodation
  • are able to keep healthy by understanding which health professionals will work with them when they are discharged from children's services, and how adult services will differ from children's services
  • are helped to participate in the community, for example by focusing on mobility and using transport systems, and using information about social and community activities
  • understand how personal budgets can be used to support preparation for adulthood.

Good transition planning will provide a clear handover to new professionals and services so that young people and their parents know and are confident in who they are dealing with and where they need to go for help.

Person-centred planning and review

The best kind of planning has the young person at its centre. Person-centred planning focuses on the child or young person and what matters to them and their family, rather than merely on processes or services and what is 'right' for the child or young person.

Person-centred planning looks at an individual's capabilities and helps them and their family think about short- and longer-term goals and the support they need to attain those goals.

A person-centred review brings together the child, their family and others who can help the child/young person to achieve their targets. Effective multi-agency engagement in the planning and review process will ensure that professionals work together to help young people experience a smooth transition into adulthood. The outcome of a person-centred review is a person-centred plan.

It is important that the child's views and preferences are elicited and taken into account in the meeting and, wherever possible, that the child/young person attends the meeting and participates in it.

A person-centred planning process builds on a shared commitment of everybody involved in a child/young person’s life to enable them to achieve the best possible future, in accordance with their aspirations. Person-centred planning and review should be ongoing to allow the plan to be tailored over time.

Post-16 options

At the age of 16, young people with SEND have four options: 

  • Staying on at school.
  • Going to a local further education college or sixth-form college.
  • Work-based learning.
  • Going to a specialist college.

The choices about their future that pupils face in secondary school can be more complicated for young people with SEND because they need to consider the extra support they will need with their learning or in training or employment. The principles outlined at the beginning of this guide apply equally at the age of 16 – good preparation and communication are key to a successful transition. Post-16 providers should have high aspirations for young people with SEN, who may range from those able to progress to higher education to those unable to gain academic qualifications.

Colleges should use their best endeavours to ensure that young people with SEN:

  • have access to a wide range of study programmes and support at all levels to enable them to achieve good life outcomes
  • are on appropriate courses
  • have the support they need to succeed
  • are helped to make a successful transition from college to adult life and employment.

To achieve this, post-16 providers should:

  • draw on assessments from students' previous educational settings
  • discuss students' needs with them and their families and involve them in planning to meet those needs
  • carry out their own assessments where appropriate. Colleges should have access to specialist skills to support students with SEND and should also ensure that curriculum staff are able to develop their skills, keep their knowledge up to date and are aware of effective practice.

Study programmes post-16 should also prepare students for a smooth transition to the next stage of their lives:

  • Adult life and independent living.
  • Further study or employment.
  • Participation in society.

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