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). In Year 11, young people are approaching the end of compulsory schooling. When they turn 16, they start to be considered as adults in their own rights for some services.
This article covers the preparation for transition in the following areas:
- Legal Matters
- Finance and Benefits
Year 11 is the last year of compulsory schooling. However, although young people can leave school at the age of 16, they must remain in education or training (e.g. via an apprenticeship or traineeship) until their 18th birthday.
If your child wants to apply for a school 6th form or college place, check websites or the Options Guide (Sheffield Futures) for open evenings/days. You can use the search facility on www.ucas.progress.com to find courses and apply online. The deadline for applications for sixth form and college courses is 31 January.
Sheffield school sixth forms usually require 5 GCSEs graded 9-4 (grade A*-C in the old system), including a grade 4 (C) in maths and English language. However, they have the option of being more flexible about entry requirements for students with EHC plans, if it seems likely that the student could cope with the course and it meets their needs.
REMEMBER: The school year finishes early in Year 11, whether your child is taking exams or not – either on the last Friday in June or earlier because of study leave. Check with school in good time to make alternative arrangements.
There is no automatic entitlement to travel support beyond compulsory school age (16 years). If travel support is allocated, there is a financial contribution of £540 towards the cost of your child’s transport. Your child may be able to get a bursary to help with this contribution. You can find out more information on the Sheffield City Council website: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/disability-mental-health/post-16-sen-travel
If your child has an EHC plan and is moving into post-16 education, you will need to complete a Travel Request Form available from Sheffield City Council (LINK). This enables a decision to be made on whether your child is eligible for travel support.
Sheffield City Council does not provide travel support to work experience placements, medical appointments or other off-site visits; responsibility for this remains with the parents or carers, or school or college as appropriate.
For further information, please see https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/disability-mental-health/transport-for-children-with-special-educational-needs or contact the Travel Assessment and Training team on 0114 205 3542.
Whether or not your child has transitioned to adult health services for their long-term needs, if they are over 16 and require emergency treatment, they must attend the A&E department at the Northern General Hospital. However, if the young person is in transition and has active follow-up at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, they can still attend A&E there.
Your child may be invited to attend transition clinics which are jointly run by staff from children’s and adult health services.
Decisions about EHC plans
When a young person reaches the end of compulsory school age (defined as the last Friday in June of the school year in which they turn 16), some rights related to EHC plans transfer from the parents to the young person.
These are: the right to ask for an EHC needs assessment, the right to make representations about the content of their EHC plan, the right to ask that a particular education setting is named in their plan, the right to request a personal budget, and the right of appeal to the SEND tribunal.
If you think your young person lacks mental capacity to make these decisions, you should alert the local authority and inform them that you want to act as your child’s representative. When making decisions on behalf of your young person, you must comply with the Mental Capacity Act.
The Mental Capacity Act
This Act affects decision-making for all people over 16 years who are unable to make some or all decisions by themselves. The issue of capacity is decision-specific; this means that capacity can only be assessed in relation to a particular decision that needs to be made at a particular time. This is an important safeguard against blanket assessments of someone’s ability to make decisions based on their disability. It also recognises the fact that someone may be able to make some decisions but not others. For example, someone can lack capacity to make complex financial decisions or consent to medical treatment, but have the capacity to decide what they would like to eat.
When assessing capacity to make a decision, it important to consider whether your child is able to:
- understand the information relevant to the decision
- retain that information
- use that information to make a decision
- communicate their decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means)
When someone is judged not to have the capacity to make a specific decision (following a capacity assessment), that decision can be taken for them, but it must be in their best interests. The process of making a best-interest decision should be led by the person who requires the decision to be made; e.g. a doctor who requires consent before carrying out treatment. Consulting with others is a vital part of best interest decision-making, and the Mental Capacity Act requires the involvement of carers and family members.
Parents and professionals must always support a young person to be involved as much as possible in a decision made on their behalf, even if they do not have the capacity to make it themselves.
Ambitious about Autism, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation in partnership with Irwin Mitchell have produced a leaflet to help individuals who feel that they are not being appropriately consulted about the welfare of their loved ones: www.irwinmitchell.com/activities/best-interest-decisions-tool
You can apply to the Court of Protection to be a Deputy for your young person if they do not have capacity to manage their own finances, or make a decision about where they should live, or make a decision about their medical treatment or how their health needs should be met.
Unless you are entitled to a fee exemption, you must pay a fee to apply to be a Deputy and you must also pay a supervision fee every year after you have been appointed, plus a security bond if you are appointed as a Property and Affairs Deputy. If the Court decides you need a hearing, you must also pay a court hearing fee.
If you are represented by a Solicitor under a certificate for legal representation (Legal Aid), you will not be entitled to a fee exemption.
If you are applying to be both types of Deputy (Property and Affairs / Personal Welfare) you must pay the application fee twice.
If you are not entitled to a fee exemption you may be entitled to a fee remission which means you will have to pay a reduced fee to apply to be a Deputy, and a reduced supervision fee every year after you have been appointed.
If you are appointed, you will get a court order saying what you can and cannot do and you will have to send an annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian each year explaining the decisions you have made. https://www.gov.uk/become-deputy
Please note: You do not need to be a Deputy if you are only looking after your young person’s benefits and can apply to be an Appointee instead. https://www.gov.uk/become-appointee-for-someone-claiming-benefits
You can also make decisions on your young person’s behalf if they are aged 18 and over, have mental capacity and they appoint you using a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two types of LPA: Property and Financial Affairs, and Health and Welfare. You must register your LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian and pay the registration fee unless you are entitled to a fee remission or exemption. https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney
On turning 16 your child:
- Can claim benefits like Universal Credit (see below) in their own right. However, if they stay in full-time non-advanced education (e.g. GCSEs, A-levels, BTECs, NVQ levels 1-3) or some types of training, parents can choose to carry on claiming for them as part of their family. You will need to weigh up which option is likely to leave your family better off. You can get help from Contact’s benefits advisers (0808 808 3555) or Citizen’s Advice Sheffield (03444 113 111).
- can receive Direct Payments in their own right.
- will be reassessed under PIP (Personal Independence Payment) if they have been getting DLA (Disability Living Allowance) as a child.
Universal Credit is a new benefit for people aged between 16 and 64 years who are on a low income, out of work or unable to work. It is replacing most of the means-tested benefits for people in this age group.
If a young person aged 16 or 17 is not in employment, education or training, they may be entitled to Universal Credit if they satisfy at least one of the eligibility conditions. These include:
- Having limited capability for work
- Having medical evidence and waiting for a Work Capability Assessment
If a young person aged 16 or 17 years is in full-time education or training, they may be entitled to Universal Credit if they satisfy at least one of the eligibility conditions. These include:
- being entitled to Personal Independence Payment or DLA and having limited capability for work
For a full list of eligibility conditions, go to: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility
If the young person declares a disability or health condition when they make a claim for Universal Credit, they may be asked to attend a “Work Capability Assessment”. The outcome of this assessment determines whether they will be required to look for work or prepare for work as a condition for getting Universal Credit. https://www.gov.uk/health-conditions-disability-universal-credit
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides a programme of intensive support for all 18 to 21 year olds making a new claim to Universal Credit who are required to prepare or look for work. This is known as the Youth Obligation Support Programme. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-18-to-21-year-olds-claiming-universal-credit
Please note: If a young person is aged 18 or over and getting residential or community care services from adult social care, getting Universal Credit could lead to them being asked to pay some charges towards those services. More information: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/social-care/cost-of-care
Access to Work
Access to Work is a government grant scheme which is aimed at supporting disabled people to take up or remain in work. Grants can be given for a wide range of interventions that help to break down barriers to work. For example, communication support at job interviews; a reader for somebody with a visual impairment; a specialist job coach for a person with a learning disability; specialist aids and equipment; awareness training for colleagues; help towards taxi fares for someone who cannot use public transport; alterations to premises; or access to a mental health support service.
To qualify for the scheme, the young person must be aged 16 or over and have a disability or health condition (physical or mental) that makes it hard for them to do parts of their job or travel to and from work. They must also be employed or self-employed; have received a job offer; or be on an apprenticeship, traineeship, supported internship, work trial or work experience. Support is also available for job interviews.
The amount of money the young person can get will depend on their circumstances. It doesn’t have to be paid back and will not affect their other benefits.
Contact: 0800 1217479 / www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview.
16-19 Bursary Fund
If your child is in further education (school or college) or training they could apply for a 16-19 bursary. There are two types of bursary:
Vulnerable student bursary
Up to £1,200 per year if at least one of the following applies to your child:
- in or recently left local authority care
- is disabled and getting Income Support (IS) in their own name
- is disabled and getting Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and either DLA or PIP
- is disabled and getting Universal Credit in their own name in place of IS or ESA
You can apply for this if you need financial help but your child doesn’t qualify for a vulnerable student bursary. The education or training provider decides how much your child will get based on individual circumstances (this usually includes your household income) and what it can be used for. For more information, see www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund
A young person turning 16 is usually expected to take on responsibility for any benefits they claim in their own right. If they are unable to manage their affairs, you can become their ‘appointee’ for benefit claims. Becoming an appointee means that you are responsible for making any claims, giving any information required, and disclosing any changes that may affect your child’s entitlement to benefits. The benefits will be paid to you on their behalf. Becoming an appointee for benefit purposes does not mean you have any wider rights to deal with their affairs. For more information, see www.gov.uk/become-appointee-for-someone-claiming-benefits
You can find advice for other stages in transition on the following advice pages, which include specific advice on the topics listed:
- Education and training
- Social Care
- Finance and Benefits
- Education and training
- Transport and travel