Transition describes the move from children’s services to adult services.

This can involve leaving school, transferring from children and family services to adult social care services, and/or transferring from paediatric services to adult health services. Family carers are often concerned about what will happen when their young person leaves full-time education.

They may also worry about the impact on their own lives, as schools provide a settled pattern, along with the opportunity to work, study or just have some time to themselves.

It has been recognised for many years that this period of change is not always well co-ordinated by services, and that planning is often poor, or does not start soon enough.

Therefore, transition has in recent years been a focus of government policies and programmes.

Transition planning at school

  • Person Centred Planning provides a way of helping a person plan all aspects of their life, including this transition. In England, in year nine (around 13-14 years of age), students with a Statement of Special Educational Needs will have a review organised by the school (called a person-centred review). The transition review is laid down in law and should include the following:
  • Family, friends and staff across different agencies who are supporting the young person should all be involved.
  • The plan is in a format adapted to the young person, (especially should they have high support needs and be unable to communicate their wishes in words) - for example, through the use of pictures, photos or video clips. Health needs should be addressed and incorporated into the plan.
  • The ensuing transition plan should be reviewed each year, until the young person leaves full-time education.
  • In year eleven (at the age of 16) in the last review before the end of compulsory education (which will be raised to year thirteen and the age of 18 in 2015), the young person should have an assessment and report concerning further education and training needs. This is called a ‘Section 139’ assessment, and should fit in with the overall planning for the future.  The goal for all young people leaving full-time education is to lead a full and active life; this is an aspiration shared regardless of any disability.

The 2011 Government Green Paper (‘Support and Aspiration’) is proposing a single assessment process, referred to as an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’.

This would span education, health, social care, and support into employment, along with the providing of access to better quality vocational and work-related learning options, resulting in young people being better enabled to progress in their learning upon finishing compulsory education.

National programmes

The Government funded a number of programmes over the past few years that focused on raising aspirations and opportunities at transition. These included:

'Preparing for Adulthood'

Since 2011, the transition element of the Government Green Paper (‘Support and Aspiration’) is called ‘Preparing for Adulthood’.

‘Preparing for Adulthood’ aims to provide knowledge and support to all local authorities and their partners, including families and young people, with the aim of ensuring that young people with special educational needs and disabilities achieve and maintain paid work, independent living, good health and community inclusion as they move into adulthood.