Improving Transition Planning for Young People with Special Educational Needs

Improving Transition Planning for Young People with Special Educational Needs

Improving Transition Planning for Young People with Special Educational Needs

Improving Transition Planning for Young People with Special Educational Needs

Synopsis

Transition planning for young people with special educational needs is a crucial but often overlooked element of social inclusion. While there is now considerable official guidance on how to manage the school leaving process for young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, little is known about how to make effective transitions happen in practice. This book supports the transition experiences of young people with a range of special educational needs. The book: Provides insights into the experiences and perspectives of young people, their parents or carers and the professionals who support them during the transition period Explores influences on the decision-making processes and the involvement of young people and their parents or carers Suggests practical ways in which young people and their families and carers can be supported during the transition to adulthood. This is essential reading for Education students, teachers, headteachers, careers guidance and pastoral care personnel, parents or carers and educational psychologists.

Excerpt

In this chapter I explore the kinds of decisions that the young people and their families were making and how they were made. Broadly speaking, ideas about how decisions are made fall into two schools of thought: normative and descriptive (Bell et al. 1988). Baron (1988) describes normative theory as 'the theory of how we should choose among possible actions under ideal conditions. The best decision … is the one that best helps us to achieve our goals' (p. 48). Individuals weigh up the pros and cons of various courses of action using the information available to them. Governmental careers guidance and transition planning policies have been strongly influenced by normative or rational theories.

Descriptive approaches describe how people make decisions rather than how they should behave (Mellers et al. 1998). Descriptive models emphasize the messiness of the process and the potential for stress and anxiety. Decision making is influenced as much by affective and personality factors and past experiences as by logic. The extent to which we are motivated to make a decision is influenced by whether we feel in control and whether we feel that we are being presented with a genuine choice.

Why is it necessary to explore ideas about decision making in general in order to understand decision making during the transition from school? Jenkinson (1993) suggests that understanding more about the nature of general decision making helps professionals to provide better support both through how options are presented and by reducing the negative impact of external factors such as legal requirements or economic constraints. The bureaucracy associated with the decision-making processes can dominate and mask the complexity of what young people and their parents or carers are experiencing. The temptation to 'get the forms filled in' can distort proceedings to such an extent that the normal feelings of anxiety and worry that everyone experiences when making major life decisions are ignored and individual voices get lost. And yet what those voices have to say have the potential to make a profound difference to the decisions that are taken, the plans that are made and the nature of the support that is offered.

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