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Transition - moving on from Secondary School to Post 16 Education for a young person with SEND

All young people must remain in education, employment or training until the age of 18. Learning can be academic, vocational or work based.

The Post 16 Educational Opportunities explains the range of options open to young people and the types of qualifications and skills that can be gained through each pathway.

There is also lots of additional information within our Preparing for Adulthood pathway pages to help guide you.

Transition planning

From around year 8/9 young people should be encouraged to think about what they may like to do in the future. This includes:

  • further or higher education
  • training or work experience
  • employment 
  • independent living
  • interests and hobbies within their community 
  • thinking about their health needs

By the age of 13-14, someone in school will be responsible for co-ordinating a meeting to discuss plans for the future. This should include details of the young person's hopes, dreams and a plan of how they will be supported to achieve them.

The young person's school will work with post-16 providers to ensure the young person experiences a smooth transition to college, training or employment. When a young person has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, this should start being discussed at their Year 9 Annual Review meeting and at all subsequent Annual Review meeting reviews until the move.

For young people who have an EHC plan, following the Yr 11 Annual Review, which should be held in the Autumn tern or very early in the Spring term, the EHC plan will be amended to reflect the move to post 16 education. When the draft amended EHC plan is issued, parents and young people will then have the opportunity to let the LA know their preferred provision to be named on the amended EHC plan. Ameded EHC plans naming post 16 provision must be issued by 31st March for admission that September.

The ways that the school can help the young person to prepare for moving to college can include:

  • Taster sessions at colleges.
  • Discussions between the SENCOs at each provider to ensure the young person’s needs are understood.
  • Events held by post 16 providers e.g. South Devon College

Choosing a Post 16 Education provider

It is a good idea consider chosen areas of interest, types of courses you might be interested and the different types of post 16 education providers.

Options include (but are not limited to):

Additional and Different support - what colleges are expected to provide

Colleges have similar responsibilities to schools to provide reasonable support to young people with special educational needs, including when they do not have an EHC plan. This could include access to a teaching assistant, specialist teachers, one to one support, therapy input, independence skills and adaptations to resources or technology to make them more accessible.

If a young person arrives at college and is assessed to need more support than the college could usually provide, the college can request an Education, Health and Care assessment, up until the young person achieves their learning objectives, leaves education or training or turns 25 years old (whichever happens first).

SEND: 19-25 year olds entitlement to EHC plans is guidance provided by the government about the support which must be available to young adults with SEND.

If the young person has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, this will be with them until they achieve their identified learning objectives, leave education or training permanently or turn 25 years old (whichever happens first). The support outlined in their plan must be fulfilled by their education provider, such as a further education college. Annual reviews will continue to take place to ensure the support is appropriate, effective and outcomes are being achieved.

The Preparing for Adulthood website outlines how children with an EHC plan should be practically supported to develop skills for adulthood, right from when they are in the early years.

Adult learning

Adults with SEND may want to continue going on courses to learn new skills and gain knowledge about subjects they are interested in.

Functional Skills Courses in English and Maths, up to GCSE level, and basic ICT skills are usually free. Other further education courses are free until the age of 19, up to level 3. However, if a young person has an EHC plan, their course may be fully funded until they are 25 years old, if the course meets the targets outlined in their plan and the course is below level 4.

English and Maths and basic ICT (Functional Skills)

It is a priority to ensure that young people have good skills in English, Maths and basic ICT, as these are often essential for employment. If a young person has not achieved a GCSE in English and Maths at the end of Year 11, there are courses available in further education colleges to help them gain a pre-GCSE or GCSE qualification. Achieving a qualification in English and Maths may be a requirement to move onto other courses.

Courses in English and Maths, up to GCSE level, and basic ICT skills are usually free. 

Young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)

We are committed to reducing the number of young people who are not in any form of education, employment or training (NEET). These young people may face multiple barriers to their participation and need a different type of support.

They may already receive support from local services, but need a package of help aimed specifically at returning to work or learning.

We are required to keep in regular contact with young people, until they are 19-years-old, to offer support to help them get into education, training or work. This means that from time to time we will contact you, just to check things are going well.

Careers guidance support for young people who are NEET

16 to 18-year-olds

If you are a young person who is aged 16 to 18 and are not currently in any form of education, employment or training or you have recently dropped out of school, college or another training programme you can get free independent careers guidance and support from CSW Group.

Aged 19 and older

If you are aged 19 or over and are not currently in education, employment or training, you can get free independent careers guidance and support from the National Careers Service.

There are lots of places you can go to for information and advice about getting into education, employment and training.

Student services at your local sixth form or college

They can give you information and advice on a wide range of subjects including education and training options, careers, finance, transport, accommodation, childcare and additional support.

Jobcentre Plus

At your local Jobcentre you can find out about jobs in your area or get help and support applying for work. Find your local Jobcentre.

If you have a disability, you can also get help at the Jobcentre from a disability employment adviser.


Paying for Further Education

Courses in English and Maths, up to GCSE level are usually free. Other further education courses are free until the age of 19, up to level 3. However, if your child has an EHC plan, their course may be fully funded until they are 25 years old, if the course meets the targets outlined in their plan and the course is below level 4.

16-19 Bursary Fund is available to students in receipt of disability benefits to help with the associated costs of education, such as lunch, books and travel.

Further education courses and funding outlines a range of funding accessible to young people studying a further education course, without an EHC plan.

Discretionary funds can sometimes be offered to students whose education will be impacted by financial deprivation, SEND (with no EHC plan) or some kind of hardship. Colleges will need to be contacted directly as each will have their own eligibility criteria and level of grant available.

Higher Education (University Level)

Many young people with SEND progress to higher education, however it is not possible to have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan at University. Those who require additional support and may incur extra costs as a result of their disability may be eligible for a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). The financial support offered is based on individual need not household income and does not have to be repaid.

If a young person with an EHC plan has a confirmed higher education place, with their permission, the Local Authority will pass a copy of the EHC plan to the relevant institution and to the assessor for Disabled Students Allowance.

For more information about the Disabled Students Allowance and how to apply visit

UCAS has information and advice for students with disabilities, including access arrangements and financial options.

Note: Higher Education is funded through the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice does not apply to students in Higher Education.