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Special educational needs - post 16 opportunities and transitions
The choices for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) leaving school have a significant impact on their experience of moving into adulthood. Key factors in managing this transition from school to adult life are the availability of appropriate post-16 opportunities and ensuring that young people receive the right support. This webpage provides information on the support and options available, including information on special school sixth forms, independent/non maintained schools, further education colleges and apprenticeships. There are also a number of post-16 options open to young people with more severe and complex needs. Information can also be found in relation to personalised learning pathways and independent specialist colleges.
Supporting a young person's transition to post-16 learning
Discussions focusing on the aspirations of young people with SEND and the support that they need to make a successful transition to adulthood are important and should start at an early stage (normally around age 14).
Determining the need and level of additional support required by young people with SEND can involve school teachers, staff from the local authority, health professionals and voluntary sector workers. It is important that all young people with SEND are provided with information on transitions and that they receive the help needed as they move on from school.
All young people with a statement of special educational needs and disabilities are entitled to a Learning Difficulty Assessment in their final year of school.
A Learning Difficulty Assessment enables well-informed decisions to be made about the kind of post-16 education and training or higher education needed to help a young person succeed. The aim is to help young people progress to learning that will lead to employment and independent living, wherever possible, by identifying their learning needs, the right support and the appropriate provision.
The assessment often starts at age 14. It is a long-term document used to inform decisions about the post-16 education or training a young person should receive. It identifies their needs and what can realistically be provided to meet these needs. The purpose of the assessment is to prevent the young person receiving provision that is unsuitable An action plan will be drawn up and this will focus on the young person's expectations on completion of their post 16-learning. Throughout the assessment, the emphasis will be on the learner's aspirations, focusing on progression and eventual employment and independent living where appropriate.
The Learning Difficulty Assessment is updated and added to as the young person's needs and circumstances change. A range of professionals may contribute to the assessment, including the special educational needs officer, specialist careers adviser and the teacher who leads on transition planning for the young person. They will provide information about the support provided in school and access to any individual education plans. The special educational needs officer or other appropriate teacher may also be able to share information about the approaches which have previously been used successfully to help the young person overcome barriers in school. A young person's statement of special educational needs, annual reviews and other statutory assessment processes and school reports may also be used to inform the Learning Difficulty Assessment.
Transition to adult life - useful websites
There are a number of agencies who can support young people with SEND. A list of these agencies is provided in the 'useful downloads' section below.
Post-16 options for young people with special educational needs and disabilities
Specialist careers advisers will be aware of the full range of post-16 options open to young people with SEND and will be able to discuss these options with them and their parents or carers. Young people and parents/carers can also contact the Parent Partnership Service or special educational needs officer working with the young person to discuss the young person's needs in transition.
For more information on the Parent Partnership Service, young people and their parents/carers can visit their website at: www.northyorks.gov.uk/parentpartnershipservice.
There is a range of post-16 options open to young people with SEND. These options include :
Local authority-maintained or academy sixth forms may offer a wide range of learning opportunities which will support learners to develop skills in preparation for adulthood.
There are five maintained special schools which offer a range of post-16 learning opportunities. For more information, click on the name of each school to visit their website:
Independent/non-maintained special schools
Independent/non-maintained special schools offer a range of post-16 learning opportunities that the local authority may consider when there is no local maintained provision that can meet the young person's educational needs. For more information on independent and non-maintained special schools, contact the Parent Partnership Service or the young person's special educational needs officer.
Full contact details for special educational needs administration can be found below.
Further education colleges
There are a number of further education colleges across North Yorkshire that offer both full and part-time courses, including supported vocational courses where learners have the chance to try out a range of career ideas. There are many courses available for young people with SEND and many of these are available at foundation level.
All further educational colleges in North Yorkshire can provide support to young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
For more information on the courses available in mainstream further education colleges, click on the name of each college to visit their website:
Foundation learning is the name given to education provision at entry level and level 1 and includes a range of qualifications at these levels. Foundation learning is flexible and inclusive. It applies to learners aged 14-19 and to adults aged 19 and above. Foundation learning programmes may include:
Apprenticeships are an excellent way of gaining qualifications and workplace experience. As an employee, the young person can 'earn as they learn' and gain practical skills from the workplace.
For more information on apprenticeships, young people can visit the National Apprenticeship Service's website.,
Personalised learning pathway
A personalised learning pathway (sometimes known as specialist non-standard mainstream provision) helps the young person to progress based on a clear understanding of how each person learns best, the approaches that will help them achieve their goals and the support they require within the learning environment.
Personalised learning will focus on three areas:
Independent specialist colleges
An independent specialist college provides both day and residential educational programmes for young people with complex learning difficulties and/or disabilities who require a high level of expertise and support in making their transition to adult life.
For more information on independent specialist colleges, young people and their parents or carers can visit the National Association of Specialist Colleges website,
For more information on how to apply for funding for both personalised learning pathways and independent specialist colleges, see the local authority's placement and appeals leaflets which can be found in the useful downloads section below.
SEND - post-16 opportunities and transitions - frequently asked questions