Improving Transition Planning for Young People with Special Educational Needs

By Lesley Dee | Go to book overview

7 How to improve transition
planning

7.1 Introduction

The focus of this final chapter is on ways of supporting the transition process for young people aged 14–25. Having a transition plan is helpful but it is the quality of the experiences that support the plan's development and implementation that are more important in the long-term and which will enhance young people's quality of life. In this chapter I discuss the place of the curriculum, personalized learning and interagency working in supporting young people's transition to adulthood. I begin by reflecting on the nature of the curriculum for the transition years.

To date there has been a distinct separation between pre- and post-16 curricula. Pre-16 most students follow a broadly similar curriculum and work towards similar qualifications. Post-16 provision is diverse and characterized by choice and many different qualifications. Most pre-16 students with special educational needs, like their peers, follow a broadly common curriculum which has become increasingly inclusive (Byers et al. 2002). They may or may not undertake examinations at age 16. However while some groups of learners with special educational needs have benefited from improved access to both vocational and academic routes through, for instance, examination accommodations and specialist equipment, others are marginalized by the academic school culture which forces them to leave school at age 16 or earlier. Post-16 the curriculum is generally determined by their destination, which in turn is strongly influenced by the type of school they attended, whether special or mainstream. Post-school destinations include further education, work-based training, specialist residential colleges, employment or, for a few, university. Exact figures are not known, but generally speaking young people with special educational needs attending mainstream schools are likely to leave at age 16 or earlier, while those attending special schools are more likely to stay on (apart from pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties). Young people with severe or profound and complex learning difficulties may remain beyond age 19 (Florian et al. 2000) with the knock on effect that some will remain in full-time education up to the age of 25.

Recent curriculum thinking (DfES 2004b), described in Chapter 2, has attempted to reconfigure the 14–19 curriculum, seeing it as a seamless offer

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