Find out about education, jobs and training for children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities.

The choices for young people with special educational needs and disabilities 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.

A personalised learning pathway helps a 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 focusses on three areas: independent living, employment and personal progress.

For more information, watch the video below or download the  personalised learning pathway brochure (pdf / 3 MB). There is also an  appeals process for placement on a personalised learning pathway (pdf / 73 KB).

Specialist careers officers work with young people aged 14-25 with special educational needs, focussing on those who have an education health and care plan. In exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the local authority, they may work with those without an education health and care plan.

Specialist careers advisers will be able to discuss a range of post-16 options with the young person and their parents or carers, including:

  • further education colleges;
  • apprenticeships and other appropriate supported work-based training;
  • personalised learning pathway and independent specialist colleges (see the  independent specialist college provision for young people (pdf / 94 KB) leaflet for details); and
  • signposting to the assessment and reviewing officer team for information on applying for post-16 mainstream and special schools.

This is intended to help students attending full-time and part-time higher education courses benefit as fully as possible from their course and is designed to cover special equipment, non-medical helpers and other general expenses. See the GOV.UK disabled student allowance web page for more information.

The young person will be offered support by the specialist careers officer through the school, if the school has commissioned this service.

Young people will also be able to access support from our supported employment team. This service can provide employment advice and information from Year 9, when presentations on work (in conjunction with specialist careers service) can be made to parents and children, which will link in with the school provided curriculum-based activities. These will raise aspirations and awareness of the possibilities for paid work, and will feature people in employment sharing their experiences, information on support sources, examples of the use of personal budgets and direct payments and the benefits of volunteering.

The supported employment team will also provide advice and guidance to the school and the young person on work experience from Year 10 or 11, following specialist careers officer input. The supported employment officer will attend Year 11 reviews where the young person has identified an interest in gaining paid employment.

Referrals can be made formally to the team when paid work is an option to be explored. This could be in the young person's last year on a personalised learning pathway or at an independent service provider, or earlier if appropriate.

See our supported employment page for more information. Many employment and training options are available, but finding the right information can sometimes be difficult. We publish an  employment pathways guide (pdf / 739 KB), taking you through the options available for your circumstances.

Supported internships are a structured study programme based primarily at an employer. Through learning in the workplace, these internships enable young people aged 16-24 with a statement of special educational needs, a learning difficulty assessment or an education, health and care plan to achieve sustainable paid employment by helping them build the skills they need for work.

Supported internships are unpaid and last for a minimum of six months. Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Alongside their time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if appropriate, as well as English and maths.

See the Preparing for Adulthood website for more information and resources on supported internships.

Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study. As an apprentice you will:

  • work alongside experienced staff;
  • gain job-specific skills;
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay; and
  • study towards a related qualification (usually one day a week).

Apprenticeships take one to four years to complete depending on their level.

More information can be found on the GOV.UK apprenticeships web page.

A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last up to six months. You can apply if you are:

  • eligible to work in England;
  • unemployed and have little or no work experience; and
  • aged 16 to 24 and qualified below Level 3.

You will get:

  • help with English and maths (if you need it); and
  • a work experience placement.

You won't be paid, but your employers can sometimes give you expenses for things like travel and meals.

Use this GOV.UK web page to find a traineeship.