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Preparation for adulthood

The SEND Code of Practice (2015) states:

Everyone working with children and young people who have SEN or disabilities should support them to prepare for adult life and help them go on to achieve the best outcomes in employment, independent living, health and community participation.

Preparing for adulthood reviews

Preparing for adulthood should form part of the planning for all children and young people with SEN and disabilities, right from the earliest years. However, for teenagers preparation for adult life needs to be a more explicit element of their planning and support. Discussions about their future should focus on what they want to achieve and the best way to support them to achieve it. For children and young people with EHC plans, local authorities must ensure that the EHC plan review at Year 9, and every review thereafter (including when they are at college), includes a focus on preparing for adulthood. 

Careers advice for young people 

FE colleges have a duty through their funding agreements to ensure that students are provided with independent careers advice. This duty applies for all students up to and including the age of 18 and also to 19- to 25-year-olds who have EHC plans. Colleges should raise the career aspirations of students with SEN and broaden their employment horizons. They should use a wide range of imaginative approaches, such as taster opportunities, work experience, mentoring, exploring entrepreneurial options, role models and inspiring speakers. 

High quality study programmes for students with SEN

All students aged 16-19 (and, where they have an EHC plan, up to the age of 25) should follow a coherent study programme which provides stretch and progression and enables them to achieve the best possible outcomes in adult life. Where appropriate, this should include access to mainstream courses followed by students who do not have SEN or a disability. Colleges are expected to design study programmes which enable students to progress to a higher level of study than their prior attainment, take rigorous, substantial qualifications, study English and maths, and participate in meaningful work experience and non-qualification activity. They should not be repeating learning they have already completed successfully. For students who are not taking qualifications, their study programme should focus on high quality work experience, and on non-qualification activity which prepares them well for employment, independent living, being healthy adults and participating in society. Full guidance about study programmes is available on the GOV.UK website. 

Pathways to employment 

All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience, and achieve the qualifications they need, to succeed in their careers. The vast majority of young people with SEN are capable of sustainable paid employment with the right preparation and 14 support. All professionals working with them should share that presumption. Colleges that offer courses which are designed to provide pathways to employment should have a clear focus on preparing students with SEN for work. This includes identifying the skills that employers value, and helping young people to develop them. One of the most effective ways to prepare young people with SEN for employment is to arrange workbased learning that enables them to have first-hand experience of work, such as apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships.

Transition to higher education

Securing a place in higher education is a positive outcome for many young people with SEN or a disability. Where a young person has this ambition, the right level of provision and support should be provided to help them to achieve that goal, wherever possible. 

Young people aged 19 to 25

Colleges must continue to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision needed by all young people aged 19 to 25 with SEN attending their institution. Guidance on EHC plans for young people aged 19 to 25 is given in Chapter 9 of the 0-25 SEND Code of Practice, paragraphs 9.150 to 9.156. 

Leaving education or training 

All young people with SEN should be supported to make the transition to life beyond college, whether or not they have an EHC plan. As well as preparing them for adulthood generally, colleges should ensure that young people with SEN have the information they need to make the final steps in this transition. This includes information about local employers, further training, and where to go for further advice or support. 

For young people with EHC plans, where it is known that a young person will soon be completing their time in education and training, the annual review prior to ceasing the EHC plan should be used to agree the support and specific steps needed to help the young person to engage with the services and provision they will be accessing once they have left education, and the college should contribute to this review.

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