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Young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) moving on to further education - colleges and training providers

After completing secondary education, all young people with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities will have the opportunity to progress to further education (FE), attending either a sixth form, vocational college, or training provider.

A young person with special educational needs will have transitional support as they progress into post 16 learning, and their next steps will be discussed during their Year 11 Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) review or their SEN support plan review. Secondary schools will also include preparation for adult life in their curriculum and provide independent career advice to young people from age 13 onwards. This includes advice tailored to the needs of young people with SEN and disabilities. 

Further education planning should start no later than the Autumn term in Year 11, and the young people should be at the centre of these discussions.

Mainstream further education

When young people leave secondary school, they will have the opportunity to choose from learning courses that match their interests and support needs. Most further education courses will run three days per week and some colleges offer either specialised bases and/or foundation learning for learners with higher needs. 

For some young people, an academic curriculum may be preferred however some young people may need more focus on improving their communication skills, independent skills and preparing for adult life. Learning can be more vocational, helping young people identify opportunities for potential employment in the future, and enabling them to develop the skills they will need to move onto employment or higher education.

Mainstream colleges will support students with special educational needs by following a Graduated Approach or Assess, Plan, Do and Review cycle. There will be a named person in charge of support for students with SEN. 

The students' Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments and plans and the effectiveness of their support will be reviewed annually, and the college should take into account:

  • progress and changes to the young person's ambitions and aspirations
  • the college and young person should jointly plan any changes to support
  • the young person's pathway into adulthood and progression beyond college learning onto employment, higher education, or lifelong experiences

Specialist post 16 colleges

Some students and their families or carers will seek education placements in a specialist post 16 provision. The council is only able to support a specialist post 16 provision when there is clear case for a young person's needs cannot be met in a mainstream post 16 provision and all local mainstream further education options have been fully explored and discounted.

The Durham Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Information Advice and Support Service team can be contacted for further advice and guidance regarding specialist provisions.

Visit Natspec: find a college to search for a specialist college.

Preparing for adulthood - college and beyond

Preparing for adulthood (PfA) is the term used to describe the support on offer to young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) as they transition into adulthood and develop independent living skills.

Preparing for adulthood usually focuses on four pathways, helping young people to achieve the best outcome in:

  • higher education or employment
  • independent living and housing options
  • getting involved in the local community and society, and having positive relationships
  • good health

The young person's progression pathway will be discussed at EHCP reviews.

Learning and careers advice and guidance is available in colleges for all students.

For young people unsure of their next steps during their post-16 education or after completing their education, the council has several teams who can offer supportive advice and guidance. Our DurhamWorks and Durham Enable teams can provide advice and guidance to young people with SEN and not in education, employment or training to explore their college and training options. See our Advice and support services to help young people moving into post-16 education or work page for more information.

After college - moving onto work and independence

Please visit our Moving on to work - supported routes into employment page.

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