In this chapter I discuss how the professionals who worked with the young people and their families exercised their influence through the formal decision-making procedures. I have already described the decision-making 'unit' as having a central core that consisted of the young person and their parents or carers and then an outer and more fluid network of mainly professionals who often changed year to year, such as class teachers and learning support staff. Sometimes personnel changed as responsibility shifted from child to adult services. These professionals had different levels of involvement with the young people and their families as well as different perceptions of their needs and variable degrees of influence.
The 2001 Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs lays down the approach which LEAs and schools should adopt in planning transitional programmes and is described in more detail in Chapter 2. One of the main purposes of the transition planning process is to support young people and their families in making choices about their postschool destinations and to formulate an action plan setting out the support required in the medium- to long-term. Heslop et al. (2002) found that one in five young people did not have a transition plan with many professionals failing to implement the Code's guidance on transition planning. For their part professionals can find themselves torn between the policies and legislation that guide how they work, the demands made on them by students, parents and other colleagues and the need to make their jobs manageable.
What does the Code of Practice say about how young people, their parents and professionals should work together? Parents must be invited to all statement review meetings which, from Year 9 onwards, include the transition planning meetings. After the meeting the transition plan must be circulated to parents. Young people do not necessarily have to attend the meetings but they should be fully involved in contributing to any plans that are drawn up. More generally, schools are encouraged by the Code to work in 'partnership' with parents but as Sandow (1994) and Armstrong (1995), among others, have pointed out, the concept of partnership is ambiguous, with comforting connotations but open to multiple interpretations and