Introduction to Preparing for Adulthood

The Children and Families Act 2014 sets out substantial new rights and protections for young people. These require a new way of working; in particular, local authorities and their partners will need to work together with young people to help them achieve successful long term outcomes, such as getting a job or going into higher education.

Planning for this will begin from an early age and will be done by working together with multiple agencies, providers, parent carers and the young people themselves. 

Preparing for Adulthood is the strand of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms which aims to support young people with SEND to move into adulthood with fulfilling lives. It focuses on young people aged 14 to 25: the pivotal age at which they start to work out what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

It requires a shift in thinking for those working with young children too. Raising aspirations for young people with SEND and planning services to help you to reach your goals needs to start in a child’s early years, or as soon as their educational needs come to light. 

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years identifies preparing for adulthood as a consistent theme across the reforms. It promotes high expectations and aspirations for what children and young people with SEN and disabilities can achieve, including paid employment, living independently with choice and control over their lives and participating in society. 

The four life outcomes for preparing for adulthood are based on what young person with SEND say is important to them:

  • paid employment (including self employment)
  • good health
  • independent living (choice and control over their life and good housing options)
  • community inclusion (friends, relationships and community)  

Preparing for adulthood process 

Preparing for adulthood is a process to ensure schools and other education providers help young people to start planning for their future adult life as early as possible, and by Year 9 at the latest. This goes beyond thinking simply about the transition to post-16 education and training. Education providers will focus on raising aspirations and supporting pupils to go on to achieve the best possible outcomes in employment, independent living and participating in society. 

Early transition planning is critical and needs to be in place for all young people with an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, focusing on outcomes and their transition to adulthood and how to achieve them. 

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