Being supported towards greater independence and employability can be life-transforming for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This preparation for adulthood should happen from their earliest years and no later than by Year 9 (age 13 or 14).
This article covers the preparation for transition in the following areas:
If your child attends a mainstream school, they will be asked to choose which subjects they want to study at Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11, ages 14-16). In some schools this will take place as early as year 8. If appropriate, these will be the subjects they will take for GCSE exams.
Some subjects are compulsory at GCSE level: English, maths and science. Some schools have other compulsory subjects, e.g. religious education in faith schools.
Optional subjects vary from school to school, but your child must be offered at least one course in each of four groups of subjects: arts (including art and design, music, dance, drama and media arts); design and technology; humanities (history and geography); and modern foreign languages (e.g. French, German, Spanish).
If your child is not working at the levels necessary for GCSEs, ask the school about other accredited qualifications that might be available.
Entry-level qualifications are closely linked to the National Curriculum but also cover vocational and life skills. Assessment for these qualifications can be written, oral or practical.
Functional skills qualifications support the development of practical skills in English, maths and ICT. There is a strong focus on explanation and problem-solving, with a choice of assessment methods.
BTEC qualifications are vocational and work-related courses, designed to accommodate the needs of employers and allow students to progress to further and higher education or into employment.
For some students with special educational needs the National Curriculum at Key Stages 3 and 4 is not appropriate, especially in relation to qualifications and examinations. Legislation allows for pupils with EHC plans to have the National Curriculum disapplied. This means that they do not have to follow the National Curriculum. For more information, please see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disapplying-aspects-of-the-national-curriculum.
If your child has a learning disability, make sure that your GP records this on their notes.
This will act as a prompt so that reasonable adjustments can be made to ensure that your child can access high-quality and appropriate health care at all times and in all settings. From age 14 onwards, it may also mean that your child will be invited to attend for annual health checks.
Annual health checks
An annual health check will involve a visit to the doctor’s surgery to see a GP or a nurse who will:
- carry out a general physical examination (weight, heart rate, blood pressure etc.)
- assess emotional wellbeing and behaviour
- ask questions about lifestyle and diet
- review currently prescribed medication
- check whether any chronic illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes, are being well managed
- review arrangements with other health professionals, e.g. physiotherapists or speech and language therapists
The Annual Health Check is a chance for your child to get used to visiting the doctor’s surgery. It may also be a good opportunity to review any transitional arrangements for the move to adult health services. Information gathered through the annual health check can be fed into the EHCP process.
Planning for the move from children’s to adult hospital services should also begin by Year 9. It should be:
- led by a named worker, often a nurse, who will coordinate your child’s transition care and support
- developmentally appropriate, taking into account your child’s capabilities and needs
- not be based on a rigid age threshold
- take place at a time of relative stability, i.e. not at the same time as moving from school to college or during a health crisis
- Reviewed at least annually
Young people should be offered the opportunity to visit adult services as part of the transition process.
Clinical specialities do transition differently, although they should all follow the NICE guidelines (see www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng43). Some use the Ready Steady Go Transition programme and plan developed by Southampton Children’s Hospital (see http://www.uhs.nhs.uk/Media/Controlleddocuments/Patientinformation/Childhealth/ReadySteadyGo/Ready-Steady-Go-Transition-plan.pdf), and some run teenage clinics.
Ask at your child’s next hospital appointment about arrangements for transition.
If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, the Local Authority must ensure that the EHC plan review at Year 9 - and every review thereafter - includes a focus on preparing for adulthood. Education, health and social care services should all be involved in planning and supporting this from year 9 and into adulthood.
Preparing for adulthood planning should include support to:
- prepare for further/higher education and/or employment
- prepare for independent living
- maintain good health in adult life
- participate in society, including support in developing and maintaining friendships and relationships
You can find advice for other stages in transition on the following advice pages, which include specific advice on the topics listed:
- Legal Matters
- Finance and Benefits
- Education and training
- Social Care
- Finance and Benefits
- Education and training
- Transport and travel