Preparing SEN pupils for adulthood

Written by: Linda Jordan | Published:
Image: iStock

There is much more focus now on schools’ role in preparing young people with SEN for their adulthood. Ahead of her workshop at Nasen Live later this month, Linda Jordan considers what schools need to be aware of

With the recent reforms to SEND practice, post-16 provision is more of a focus and schools must help prepare students with SEN for adulthood.

The SEN reforms call on schools, families and support workers to intentionally prepare young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for adulthood from age 14.Mainstream and special schools, including those with provision up to age 19, need to be engaging with adult services when they are planning for the young person to leave school.

In the local authority area, there is an expectation that there will be joint commissioning between the local authority (education and social care and the NHS) so that we are working towards much more integrated services.

This is important for young people from age 14, because if they have high support needs and are going to require support in adulthood from social care and/or health, then there is an interface with the adult legislation that schools need to be aware of.

If we are supporting young people to move into adulthood, then this includes assistance for employment, independent living, friendships, relationships, community, health and multi-agency working. We must also support them to be independent, engendering an understanding that from the age of 16, they have the right to make their own decisions and have control over their life.

So what can schools do to support independence? Schools need to know much more about the adult world, because it can inform the curriculum. So they need to know more about what is possible in terms of employment and independent living, and so on.

If they are contributing to EHCPs, they need to know what outcomes are relevant based on what’s possible and what’s available and what the adult world is like for young disabled people. Young people need to be far more aware of housing options, so schools should consider preparing young people for thinking about housing in the curriculum, as well as independence. I think the main issues are that we need to support schools to learn more about the bigger world, the bigger context. It isn’t necessarily more work, it is just gradually building up awareness, so that they can do their jobs better and support young people into adulthood.

Challenges for SENCOs and schools

In a way, the SEND reforms and legislation do not fit in with the rest of the education agenda; there are more and more issues where local authorities are finding it a challenge to advise schools that have opted for academy status. There are also a lot of SENCOs in academies that are finding that inclusion isn’t on the agenda, which is a real concern.

The recent funding consultation is proposing to go even more in that direction, so the environment is quite hostile and that is something we have to be really honest about. My view is that there is enough money in the system, but often SENCOs aren’t involved in how the additional money for additional needs is spent, which means that young people that need support do not always receive it.

It can be lonely for SENCOs, especially when they have children with complex needs in their classes but are not getting the support from their management team.

Ultimately, it is about enabling conversations and many of us believe that the answer is partnerships between special and mainstream schools, so that the specialist skills can be shared, and all schools can feel comfortable having inclusion high on the agenda.

  • Linda Jordan is senior development advisor for the National Development Team for Inclusion. Visit

Preparing for Adulthood

Linda Jordan’s session, Preparing for Adulthood, takes place at 15:30 on Friday, April 29, at Nasen Live 2016. For more information on Nasen Live, which takes place in Leeds on April 29 and 30, and to pre-book seminar places, visit

Further information

A range of free advice is also available on Nasen’s SEND Gateway, including:


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