Transition to adulthood for young people with additional needs

It is important to help vulnerable young people to experience the same opportunities as other young people. Agencies endeavour to provide suitable services to enable young people to achieve their potentials. It is important to be mindful that each person’s journey may present different level of challenges and represent different needs.

Children and young people experience many important transitions in their lives. Supporting young people as they move into adulthood is complex and presents a challenging management task. The challenge requires leadership at the most senior levels of management to ensure frontline staff have the skills to support young people and their families, to listen to their views and raise their aspirations to achieve best outcomes within the limited resources.

Planning for transition should be a continuous process reflecting the principles set out in the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice (2001), which can usefully be applied to others who do not fall within the SEN Framework.

We believe that a person centred approach to planning and review is necessary and that we will consider how we commission local services to enable us to respond more appropriately to individual needs on the basis of these person-centred processes.

Slough Transition protocols apply to the transition from childhood to adulthood, usually commencing at age 14 years or in school year 9 and up to age 25 years for some young people.

Working in partnership with adult social services enables the identification of those young people who are likely to meet the eligibility criteria for adult social care when they are 18 years old.

What do we know?

Young people with learning difficulties and disabilities want the same things in life as everyone else: to travel, to get good jobs, to have friends and relationships, to live independently, to have a good social life and to be valued as good citizens. Young people and their families may want different things and as many young people with learning difficulties and disabilities are more dependent on their families, services need to ensure that they support young people to have a voice in planning their transitions to adulthood. Person centred planning is the key to ensuring children and young people are fully involved in planning for their transition to adulthood.

Many young people with disabilities or who have Special Educational Needs (SEN) can face additional challenges during their teenage years. Too often the opportunities and support available to disabled young people and young people with SEN fall short of what they need to make a successful transition to adult life.

From Valuing People Now (2010) we know that less than 10% of people with learning disabilities are in paid work and of those, not many are working more than a few hours per week. We also know that more than 70% of people with learning disabilities want to work.

Young people with special educational needs need high quality work experience opportunities to help prepare for the world of work. We know employers also need support to enable them to become more confident in employing young people with special educational needs.

There has been an increase in further education opportunities for young people leaving school but tracking of destinations from this first move is essential to get a full picture of young people’s future destinations into employment and training. Historically, we know that young people with learning difficulties and disabilities find it more difficult than their peers to secure paid employment. For more information, you may wish to check Office for Disability Issues.

Some young people or their families are keen to live independently. This requires early planning and good information about the range and availability of housing options.

Feedback from young people is that young people with learning disabilities want to live within in their local communities and access mainstream services. Some require significant specialist support from a range of services to include health, care and housing to achieve this.

Young people with a disability who are 18 years old will have support through care planning to meet their social care needs. If they meet the eligibility criteria for Adult Social Care. This includes care needs, supported living options, employment and access to community services.

We know from our work through the Transition Forum that different services have different ages for transition. Young people with learning difficulties are not often known to their GPs and wider primary health care teams because they have been supported by specialist child health services. At age 18, young people transfer from the specialist child health services to their GP who may have had limited involvement with their planning.

Facts, figures, trends

In 2015 there were 812 Slough children and young people aged from 2 to 19 with a statement of Special Educational Needs. Around a third of these pupils will be between the ages of 14 and 19 and therefore in the transition to adulthood.

The number of young people aged 19-25 with a learning disability is estimated to be around 328 (2015). This is not predicted to increase over the next five years (Source: PANSI projections).

 In 2014/15 only 5.8% of supported adults with a learning disability were in paid employment, which is similar to the national average

National and local strategies (current best practices)


Valuing People Now expected all young people with learning disabilities to have:

  • person centred transition reviews and plans by 2012
  • young people and their families to have a strong voice at review meetings
  • to know what is positive and possible in terms of the future and that clear actions have been set in the areas of health, housing, jobs and careers, friends and relationships.

‘Valuing Employment Now’ includes employment pathways which set out the most critical things that need to happen during transition. The pathways focus on outcomes and activities rather than services.

The Children and Families Act 2014 introduces major reforms of provision for children and young people with Special Educational Needs. This will include the introduction of the Single 0-25 Education, Health and Care plan for young people with SEN from September 2014 and the option of a personal budget for families and young people with a plan, extending choice and control over their support.

The aim of the single plan is to focus on best outcomes for children and young people and should include:

  • paid work
  • independent living (choice and control over life and support and housing)
  • good health
  • friends, relationships and community inclusion.

What is this telling us?

The transition to adulthood is a difficult time for everyone, with greater barriers in terms of health, wellbeing and employment for those who have additional needs.

There has been an increase in the number of children and young people with a statement of special educational needs, though projections (calculated by PANSI) don’t show a particularly large increase in needs over the next five years.

What are the key inequalities?

Young people with special educational needs go on to have higher levels of unemployment than average, with greater risk of social isolation, poverty and associated health problems.

“Economic inactivity in Slough”, April 2013, a report commissioned by Slough Borough Council to identify and profile the inactivity in Slough, included a focus group of people with disabilities; they reported that there are very few paid opportunities for people with lower level qualifications.

What are the unmet needs/service gaps?

Though the proportion of people supported with learning disabilities who are in paid employment is similar to the national average, there remain improvements to be made here.

Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations

  • To continue to work according to the Children and Families Act 2014 and to signpost children and families to Slough's local offer