Preparing for Adulthood Transition Guide
Helpful tips and advice
Now is a good time to start talking to children about what they want to do as they grow older. It is also a great time to start them on their journey to independence by talking to them about, or starting to teach the following:
- What do they want to do when they are grown up?
- What they might have to study to be able to achieve this.
- Learning to read their timetable on their own.
- Packing their bag and making a packed lunch.
- Knowing how to cross the road safely.
- Where and when to catch the bus from.
- Knowing where to go if they do not feel safe walking to and from school. This could be a family member's, or a family friend's house.
- Knowing how to say 'no' to things they do not feel comfortable with and are therefore more socially aware.
- Moving home when they are older.
- Staying safe online. Childnet has some useful tips about talking to children with SEND about staying safe online.
Children and young people don't always want to do things that build independent living skills within the home like cooking with their parents, so it's a great idea to find ways to facilitate this learning independently. This allows them to transfer the skills they have learnt into other places, not just at home. Youth clubs can be a great place for children to learn these skills.
There is lots of information on the Bucks SENDIAS website which can help you think about choosing a school and can help with the transition to secondary school.
If your teenager has an EHC plan, the local authority must ensure all reviews from year 9 focus on preparing for adulthood. Relevant education, health and social care services should all be involved in planning and supporting the transition from year 9.
A really good, and specific EHC plan is so important. Everyone involved in your child's life needs to understand what role they will play in preparing your child for adulthood. There needs to be a clear plan around going out and socialising, education, training/work experience, moving home and keeping healthy. If you think that your child's EHC plan is not specific enough you must say something and ask for changes to be made.
Education and training
If your teenager attends a mainstream school, they will be asked to choose which subjects they want to study from year 10. If appropriate these will be the subjects they will take for GCSE exams. Other accredited qualifications that might be available are:
- Entry-level qualifications that are closely linked to the National Curriculum but also cover vocational and life skills.
- Functional skills qualifications that support the development of practical skills in English, Maths and ICT.
- BTEC qualifications that are vocational and work-related courses which suit the needs of employers.
- ASDAN qualifications.
Your teenager may have a particular career in mind. Find out from the school careers officer or Local Authority Education Service what courses are available.
Independent living skills
It's a good idea to explore ways in which you can support your child to build independent living skills such as doing jobs around the house, helping make meal plans/shopping lists, helping with the shopping and cooking meals.
There are lots of groups that young people can attend to help them build these skills. There is lots of information available on the SEND Local Offer.
Independent travel training
The council, schools and colleges are working together to promote a programme of independent travel training for children and young people with SEND. This training helps children and young people to build road safety skills, personal safety skills, planning skills and coping strategies.
If you and the SEN Team feel that your child would benefit from this training, your SEN Officer can make a referral for you.
It's a good idea to make sure that your teenager's GP records state any special educational needs or disabilities and to fill out a Hospital Passport (also known as a Health Passport).
If your teenager has a learning disability, ask the GP to put them on the Learning Disability Register. Being on this register tells healthcare staff that they need to adapt their support and care to your teenager. The GP should also offer those with a learning disability an annual health checkup from age 14. A GP or nurse will:
- carry out a general physical examination
- assesses emotional well-being and behaviour
- asks about lifestyle and diet
- reviews current medication
- checks whether any chronic illnesses are well managed (for example, asthma or diabetes)
- reviews what other health professionals may be doing to help support your child
The health check is a chance for your teenager to get used to visiting the doctor's surgery on their own if they can, and it's appropriate.
GPs are responsible for coordinating the health needs of those who are over 18 with multiple, or complex conditions. They are responsible for arranging additional health support if it's required. The family and GP can review arrangements for moving to adult health services. Information from the health check-up can go towards annual reviews of the transition plan.
Planning for the move from children to adult hospital services should also begin from the age of 14. Different hospitals do these transitions differently and at different times. At your next hospital appointment, you can ask about transition arrangements.
Other health services
It's really important not to forget about other aspects of your teenager's health and where they go for their appointments, including opticians and dentists. Lots of health services can provide additional support to ensure that young people are comfortable at their appointments. It's really important to have a look around and meet with different practices to find the right one for your young person.
It's never too early to talk to have those difficult conversations with young people. This could include sex, relationships, consent and other topics such as mental health. The NSPCC and Young Minds both have some great guidance on how to have these sorts of conversations. Our Youthspace area has lots of help for young people as well.
Did you know you can self-refer to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)?
If you are worried about your young person's mental health, or you would like to find out if your child may have Autism you can refer your teenager to CAMHS. Self-referrals give you the opportunity to provide lots more information, and the process is very easy to follow.
Transition plans are not set in stone, they can be reviewed and revised as things change throughout the year. You do not have to wait until your teenager's annual review to make any changes if they are required. It is important to get the views of relevant professionals and/or voluntary groups before agreeing on any changes.
The wording of transition plans is so important to young people during their final years of school. The needs and outcomes need to be really clear and specific to your young person, and the outcomes need to be SMART. This stands for being specific, measurable, achievable and time-bound.
Education and training
Now is the time to review how school and studies are going for your teenager, and to begin planning for learning beyond the age of 16. It is also a good time to start looking at work experience. Some forms of work experience will need to be really specialist due to the needs and abilities of different young people.
It's also not too early to visit possible post-16 colleges, sixth forms, training centres or employers to see what they offer, and how easily your teenager could access them.
If you have not already started to discuss moving to adult health services (including adult mental health services), you should do this as soon as possible.
Your teenager can leave school on the last Friday in June if they will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays if they wish. They must do one of the following until they are 18:
- stay in full-time education
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- spend 20+ hours working or volunteering, while also in part-time education/training
Maintained schools, academies, further education colleges and sixth forms have a duty to provide pupils with independent career guidance.
Post-16 education programmes should stretch young people's abilities and prepare them for adulthood. They do this by giving them the skills they need to live as independently as possible, raise aspirations and prepare them for lifelong learning. Some children's transition plans may include a programme of education that lasts until they are 25 years old.
Some key things to think about are:
- Applications for course places must be made early in the school year. Check the application deadline for any sixth form or college your teenager wants to apply to.
- Look for open days or evenings - these normally happen early in the autumn term. If a young person finds these challenging the SEN team at the school/college may be able to arrange a separate visit.
- Confirm special arrangements for exams. Talk to the SENCO and/or Examinations Officer at the school as soon as possible.
Getting a job
If your teenager is applying for a job with training, find out which employers offer appropriate courses. Supported internships and traineeships offer work-based learning and apprenticeships offer employment with training. Discuss possible options with the school and/or careers advice.
If your teenager is planning on working after they turn 16 discuss at the annual review how to make an Access to Work application.
Leaving school may also mean leaving behind friends and social support which some young people may find difficult. You can plan how to make this transition as smooth as possible, perhaps by joining a club outside of school that would continue while other things change. This could link with an existing hobby or interest they have and could pursue as an older teenager.Your teenager may be eligible for a personal budget to help pay for social and leisure activities, or even a Personal Assistant (PA) to access them.
Discussions about the transition to health services should happen from the age of 14. Not all health services continue into adult life and service providers may change when a teenager turns 16 or 18. Discuss with health professionals what services exist, who runs them and who is responsible for funding them (from ages 16 or 18). Further information can be found on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Ceasing an Education, Health and Care Plan
A local authority can cease to maintain an EHC plan if it determines that it is no longer required for the plan to be maintained if the young person:
- has taken up paid employment (excluding apprenticeships);
- has started higher education (university);
- aged 18 or over has left education and no longer wishes to engage in further learning;
- has turned 25;
- has moved to a different local authority;
- has met the outcomes as specified in their plan.
The local authority will do this by issuing a 'cease to maintain notice' in writing to the parent or young person, stating why. This will come after a consultation with the young person, their parents and the head teacher of their school/college. The young person can appeal to the national SEND Tribunal if they disagree with this decision.
Young people with an EHC plan can continue in education through sixth forms or further education in college. These ultimately could lead to higher education and/or employment. If academic study is not suitable for your young person they can look at alternative options including supported internships, traineeships or apprenticeships. These all aim to prepare young people for employment.
Some of the available post-16 options are:
- Mainstream Sixth Form
- Special School
- Further Education
Special Schools educate post-16 young people with a range of physical, behavioural cognitive issues and those whose needs cannot be met within a mainstream school. These schools have smaller classes, individual learning, one-to-one support and learning aids.
Your young person will attend full time and can study a range of academic subjects as well as benefit from learning life/independent skills.
Further Education (FE)
Further Education can be accessed following the end of year 11, though some young people (aged 16 to 15) will continue in a school setting for longer. They may also move to a college later, depending on their EHC plan objectives as colleges offer a wide range of courses and qualifications.
A course of study for a 16 to 18-year-old (up to 25 with an EHC plan) is often referred to as a 'Study Programme'. This term refers to a package of learning which might include some, or all of the following:
- vocational subjects relating to an employment sector; for example business or hairdressing
- academic courses like GCSEs and A-Levels
- independent study
- digital skills
- careers support
- work experience
If training (leading to employment, work or volunteering) is the route for your young person they can undertake programmes which aim to prepare them for employment. Some of the available post-16 options include:
Supported Internships prepare young people between the ages of 16 and 24 with a statement of SEN to enter the world of work or an apprenticeship. Supported Internships create structured work-based study programmes with the aim of achieving long-term, sustainable, paid employment/
The year-long programmes are designed to equip young people with the skills they will need for work. They use practical learning within the workplace with a range of employers and are supported by a job coach. The internships are unpaid, but some may offer expenses for things like travel and meals. Some supported internships may also be supported by Access to Work.
You could help your teenager think about this option with this easy-read guide.
A traineeship is a course for 16 to 24 year olds with a substantial amount of work experience to get you ready to progress into sustainable work or an apprenticeship. You will learn important employability and job-seeking skills and if needed continue improving your English, Maths or digital skills.
Traineeships can last from 6 weeks up to 1 year, although most of them last for less than 6 months. You won't be paid, but you may be given expenses for things like travel and meals.
Apprenticeships provide the chance to be an employee of a business. You will earn a wage whilst gaining job-specific skills and studying towards recognised qualifications. They can be started at any age post-16 and can be offered by most employers covering a wide range of different jobs.
Apprenticeships can take between 1 to 5 years to complete depending on their level and qualification range, from equivalent GCSE level 2 to degree level 7. Apprentices may also be supported by Access to Work, individualised support and flexibilities within the programmes.
Supported Employment has a personalised model for supporting people with significant disabilities to secure and retain employment. This model has, at its heart, the notion that anyone can be employed if they want paid employment and individualised support is provided.
The model is a flexible and continuous process, designed to meet all anticipated needs.
Voluntary and vocational routes into employment
For those who may not be able to access work through the above routes and options, volunteering is planned work freely given within the community. Voluntary placements help to develop employability skills, build confidence, provide recognised work and experience and can lead to possible paid employment.
It's really important to research and gather as much information on as many colleagues and educational institutes as you can. there are so many available and they will be more than happy to talk to you about what they offer. Go and explore and make sure that your young person's options are not limited to just one or two.
If a teenager has very significant health needs, they should ask for an Adult Continuing Health Care Assessment. This should be completed well before they turn 18 to allow enough time to complete the assessment and for any discussions about the care they are entitled to.
Up to the age of 16 or 18 and paediatrician usually coordinates the health needs of young people with multiple or complex conditions. After 18 this passes to the GP who is responsible for arranging additional health support. It is a good idea to ensure the GP has an up to date picture of your teenager's health and other needs.
From age 17, the Paediatric Community Nurse may also support the transition to the district nursing service.
The Care Act 2014 places legal duties on Local Authorities regarding what must happen when a teenager transfers from children's to adult's services. If a teenager is likely to have care and support needs the local authority must complete a transition assessment before they reach 18.
This duty also applies if a teenager is not currently receiving children's social services but may need services as an adult. For example, if they have a degenerative condition or mental health problem.
A young person, parent or carer can ask for this assessment.
If after an assessment the Local Authority decides the young person is not eligible for support, it should signpost them to appropriate agencies.
If the Local Authority decides not to do an assessment, it must explain why in writing. It must also provide information and advice about what can be done to prevent or delay the development of care and support needs.
Eligibility for children's social care does not guarantee the same support as an adult.
If a young person is not eligible for support, an assessment will give a good picture of their overall strengths and needs that voluntary organisations may be able to meet.
Support from the Local Authority's Children's Services must continue until adult provision has started, or until your teenager has been assessed as ineligible for adult care and support. Remember that a parent/carer may be eligible for Carer's Allowance. The transition assessment should consider this too.
Cost of social care support
People over the age of 18 who have eligible care and support needs may have to contribute toward their care and support costs where the young person has funds over a specific amount. The transition assessment will include a check on how much a teenager can afford to contribute. A teenager may have to pay towards:
- home care (day and night)
- day activities and respite care
- supported living
- support from a Personal Assistant (PA)
When a Local Authority assesses a teenager, who is already receiving support from children's social care, they must continue providing support until the adults' services are in place to take over (or until the assessment shows that adult care and support will not be provided).
You may be having lots of conversations at home about living independently, where your teenager might like to live and who they might like to live with. It's not too early to start exploring these options together.
You can find out about independent living services such as supported living in the Preparing for Adulthood area on the Bucks Local Offer. Your transition worker can talk to your about these options too and can help you organise visits and taster days.
You and your teenager may find these interactive guides helpful as your start to help them make choices and plan for the future. They cover topics such as building friendships and support networks, education, employment/purposeful activities, where to live and dealing with emergencies.
Some young people who attend special schools in Buckinghamshire choose to stay there until they are 19 years old. Leaving your special school is a big life change, especially if you have been there for a long time.
Some young people will have a Better Lives Assessment before they turn 18, completed by Adult Social Care. They will help you to explore local options like college with some community days, supported internships and volunteering. Your school will help and support you when it is time to move on. You will also get support from the iSEND team at the council.
Local colleges and providers of alternative education or employment programmes have open days and will organise tours of their facilities. You should go and see as many of these as you can.
Higher education including university
Young people with SEND are not automatically entitled to continue with EHC plans after they turn 19. Most young people with EHC plans complete their further education by age 19 and the EHC plans ceases. Some 19 to 25-year-olds will need an EHC plan for as long as it takes them to complete education and training.
In such cases, the Local Authority must continue to review it at least annually. The plan must contain outcomes which enable the teenager to complete their education and training successfully and move on to the next stages of their lives.
If a young person attends a special school, they cannot stay there after they reach 19, unless they are completing a course they started before they turned 18. Instead, they will need to move into college or other post-18 opportunities to continue their education and training.
A young person at university, sometimes called higher education, is not entitled to an EHC plan. If your young person has an EHC plan and starts university, the EHC plan will cease. Once they are at university, they will also no longer be able to request an EHC assessment.
There are different systems in place to support disabled young people in higher education, including Disability Support Allowances (DSA). DSAs fund a range of support, including help with the cost of specialist equipment. This could include:
- non-medical helpers (for example sign language interpreters)
If a young person has an EHC plan and also receives support from adult social care the support is provided under the Care Act 2014. The EHC plan remains the overarching plan that ensures young people receive the support needed to achieve agreed preparing for adulthood outcomes. These outcomes cover the following areas:
- independent living
- community inclusion
Supported internships and employment
Finding a job or purposeful occupation they will be really important to teenagers and young adults, especially as their education draws to an end. Supported employment has been successfully used as a model for supporting people with significant disabilities. It helps secure and retain paid employment.
Supported employment enables people with disabilities to achieve sustainable long-term employment, while businesses are able to employ valuable workers. Some employers offer supported employment. This is high-quality, personalised support for people with disadvantages or disabilities, which helps them find, access and stay in employment.
Supported employment providers can help with vocational profiling, job finding, find/engage with employers and on/off job support.
Jobs should be at least 16 hours a week.
Supported employment is guided by three main principles:
- The job should be an integrated workplace.
- The job holder is paid the rate for the job.
- Everyone has the right to end their reliance on welfare benefits.
Safe Place Scheme
Have you heard of the Safe Place Scheme? It is coordinated by the Bucks Community Safety team and is supported by Thame Valley Police and local voluntary organisations. A sticker is placed in a prominent position in the window/door of a 'safe place' which helps vulnerable people to know that help is available to them if they need it.