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Preparing for Adulthood and Employment | Community Directory

Preparing for Adulthood and Employment

The Local Offer supports young people aged 16-25 to have positive experiences and should help them to progress towards gaining employment and contributing to their local communities.

It can be an exciting time of new opportunities, choices and increased independence but, it can also be a difficult and uncertain time for young people with SEND and require more careful consideration and planning.

Suffolk County Council and its partners aim to ensure that children, young people and their families can live fulfilled lives, with more young people moving successfully into adulthood and independence.

Download Suffolk's new SEND 16+ Transitions Guide.

Support and advice for Post 16 education, training or work

Planning your child’s future is important and schools have a duty to help you and your child.

It is now mandatory for all schools and colleges to have a careers leader in place. This person should have an overview of what support is place for your child whilst they are in school or college. 

They will work with others in the school or college to make sure that all the students in their organisation have access to a programme of careers education, opportunities to meet employers – both in the school or college – or outside visits, work taster or work experience. 

They will also ensure that students have the chance to speak to a qualified careers adviser who will have expert knowledge about the pathways and opportunities in the local area and will be able to help you and your child think about what best meets their individual needs.

All schools and colleges must also publish on their website details of the careers programme that is on offer for all students, along with name of the careers leader.

To ensure you get the most out of the transition planning, it is important to help your child to think about they like and their hopes for the future.

Some young people will need more support to do this, therefore it may be helpful to ask others who know them well that they think.

  • At the year 11 EHCP review meeting, decisions about post-16 options will need to be made
  • Your child will need to think about what they would like to do when they leave school and what support they will need to help prepare them for the future
  • Some young people may benefit from extra time in school after year 11
  • Applications for school or college should be made in the autumn term of year 11
  • Young people who are looking for an apprenticeship or training should start their search in the spring term of year 11
  • It is advisable to consider all the options and to have a back-up plan.

Education and Learning

Young people can leave school or college between the ages of 16 – 19; however, since 2015 there has been a legal requirement for them to continue in learning or training until they are 18. It's important to start planning as early possible. Young people will be helped to understand their options for the future by their school or college.

Further education (FE) colleges provide a range of courses suitable for students aged 16-19 with special educational needs. You can find more information on the college websites:

For young people with a level 3 qualification (e.g. A levels, BTEC etc.) and the desire and capability to study further, there are a wide range of courses to study at higher education institutions – either locally or further afield.

For more information on qualifaction levels, please see page 7 of the transitions guide.

Students with a disability or SEND can access a range of financial and personal support to help them achieve in their studies. Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) are grants to help pay for support that you may need when at University. You may be eligible if you have a Mental Health Condition, specific learning difficulty, Autistic Spectrum Condition, physical or visual disability and/or a long-term / life-long medical condition. Your DSA is a website that aims to simplify the process by providing clear information about each stage of the process - http://www.yourdsa.com/.  

Make sure you let the education provider know if your child needs any adjustments to make the course accessible to them.  The earlier they know, the sooner they can plan changes or support.  You can discuss the particular adjustments needed and how to arrange them with the staff member responsible for supporting disabled students at the place where you plan to study.

Search for the contact details of disability advisers at colleges and universities throughout the UK at - http://www.yourdsa.com/.  

Employment – help getting a job

Employment helps people to be independent and be part of the community, leading to a good ordinary life. For children and young people with SEND, getting work experience and developing employability skills is very important. It can also help an employer to recognise the skills that the young person can bring to their organisation.

Meeting employers

Schools and colleges have a duty to ensure all young people have opportunities to meet with employers during their time in education – an aspect which is inspected by Ofsted. This could be an employer coming to the school or college to talk to students about their job, help with a project, give students opportunities for a mock interview or mentor a student. Many schools hold careers fairs where students get the chance to talk to lots of employers in one day. (see also ‘Statutory school guidance’ Jan 2018).

Work experience

Your child should also be offered the chance to do some work experience during their time in education. This could be for a fixed period of time, such as one full week or spread over a number of weeks during a term. Schools and colleges have a responsibility to help students prepare for these kinds of experiences.


Volunteering can also help students develop skills that will help them in future employment. There are formal programmes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award or National Citizenship Service that schools and colleges will be involved in. You could also help your child to do some voluntary work outside school or college in an area that they are interested in. However, your child may need to be over 16 to take part in external voluntary work and they may need some support.

It's often hard for a young person to think about what they may want to achieve from their adulthood when they are in their early teens. But early planning is the key to success and so it's really helpful if parents and carers can work with their young people to start thinking about this.

All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience and achieve the qualifications they need to succeed.

This can be achieved through:

Search our directory for organisations who can help.

Health - keeping yourself well

Growing up and becoming more independent it is important to be aware of your health needs and how to look after yourself.

There are a range of health services available for young people with special educational needs and disabilities such as: GPs, hospitals, dentists, pharmacists, and opticians. In some cases, you may need to access specialised services which may be different depending on your need.

Visit our health section for more information on the services available for young people.

Community inclusion – friends and relationships

Friendships, relationships and being a part of the community, they live in are important to a young person's quality of life. There are many ways to get involved other than being in education or employment.

Clubs / Groups

There’s a wide range of clubs and groups young people can access within Suffolk to gain friendships and receive support.

To find out what’s available, search our local offer directory.


Volunteering can provide alternative opportunities to gain skills, achieve your goals, and develop valuable experience which could help you into paid employment.

Social media

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family however, it is important to make sure you are safe online. Foundation for people with learning disabilities have a downloadable easy read guide with information about social media and the internet.

Help and Benefits

Disability Living Allowance

Many disabled children qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The care component of DLA can be paid from the first few months of life. The high rate of mobility component can be paid from the age of 3, and the lower rate from the age of 5.

DLA for a child is normally paid to the parent. When the young person reaches the age of 16 the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) should check whether the young person is capable of managing the money for him or herself. If this is not possible the parent or some other person should be their appointee to manage their affairs. It is likely that the DLA award will come to an end from the 16th birthday and the family will be invited to apply for the Personal Independence Payment.

Personal Independence Payment

From June 2013 Disability Living Allowance started to be replaced for people aged 16 and above by the new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). There can be no more new claims for Disability Living Allowance from working age adults. Instead they can claim Personal Independence Payment.

When an award of DLA is due to run out (including when a child with DLA reaches the age of 16), people may not be able to renew their DLA claim but instead will be invited to claim PIP. From October 2015 the Department for Work and Pensions started reviewing all adult DLA awards.

Personal Independence Payment is similar to Disability Living Allowance. It has a ‘daily living’ component and a mobility component. The claiming and assessment process is different. Most applicants have to undergo a medical assessment.

Disabled student allowance

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.