Young people with special educational needs (SEN) can be supported up until the age of 25 – well beyond compulsory school age.

Annual reviews are an opportunity for your child, or as a young person for you, to discuss with family, school or college, and the local authority (LA), what your child/you would like to achieve as they/you grow up. The aim of this is for young people with SEN to be supported towards greater independence and employability.

From Year 9 onwards, your LA must make sure that the annual review meeting considers what provision is required to help your child, or you as a young person, to prepare for adulthood and independent living. This is a legal duty found in regulation 20(6) and regulation 21(6) of The SEN and Disability Regulations 2014 (The SEND Regulations 2014).

Start planning early

The SEN and Disability Code of Practice (the Code) sets out what should be considered in annual reviews from Year 9 onwards.

For teenagers, preparation for adult life needs to be an explicit element of their planning and support. Discussions about their future should focus on what they want to achieve and the best way to support them to achieve (paragraph 8.7 of the Code).

There may be very good reasons to start planning for adulthood sooner than Year 9 and the Code suggests that it can be helpful for EHC plan reviews before Year 9 to have this focus too. 

Person-centred planning

Planning must be centred around the individual and explore the child or young person’s aspirations and abilities, what they want to be able to do when they leave post-16 education or training, and the support they need to achieve their ambitions. LAs should make sure that children and young people have the support they need to participate fully in this planning and make decisions. Transition planning must be built into the revised EHC plan and should result in clear outcomes being agreed that are ambitious and stretching and which will prepare young people for adulthood (paragraph 8.9 of the Code).

It is important your child or you as a young person, can give their/your views and cover the topics they/you think are important. Some helpful resources to assist with this are:

There are some key points for annual reviews and transition between school and further education and/or training:

  • Planning depends entirely on the young person’s aspirations and abilities and what is needed to support them to “achieve their ambition”: the EHC plan must fit the individual young person and not the other way around.
  • Young people should be appropriately supported to participate and make decisions. Parents and carers need to think about how best to enable their young people to make decisions when the time comes.
  • Transition planning must be built in to the revised EHC plan. Although outcomes will need to be revised, remember that only the contents of sections B and F of an EHC plan can be appealed and it will be crucial that the transition planning is specified and quantified in section F of the revised plan.
  • The outcomes sought for a young person must be “ambitious” and “stretching” and “prepare young people for adulthood”. This is very important when thinking about education or training for young people aged 19-25 where provision tends to be more bespoke (and harder to get).

What is preparation for adulthood?

As this depends entirely on the individual, there are no hard rules. The Code has some useful examples of what this might be (see paragraph 8.10):

  • support to prepare for higher education and/or employment
  • training options such as supported internships, apprenticeships and traineeships
  • support in finding a job, and learning how to do a job (for example, through work experience opportunities or the use of job coaches);
  • help in understanding any welfare benefits that might be available when in work
  • preparation for independent living including where the child or young person wants to live in the future, who they want to live with and what support they will need
  • considering local housing options including housing benefits and social care support available
  • support in maintaining good health in adult life, and
  • support in participating in society: this is a wide-reaching concept and includes such things as understanding how to get about (using transport and benefits options relating to this) and making and maintaining relationships.

Crucially, the Code makes clear that: 

“Where young people have EHC plans, local authorities should consider the need to provide a full package of provision and support across education, health and care that covers five days a week, where that is appropriate to meet the young person’s needs.”

“Five-day packages of provision and support do not have to be at one provider and could involve amounts of time at different providers and in different settings. It may include periods outside education institutions with appropriate support, including time and support for independent study.”

(Paragraphs 8.39 and 8.40 - our emphasis)

If you are a young person with an EHC plan your LA should still support you even if your LA thinks it is unlikely you will be able to live independently or to go into paid employment. This is because you will still benefit from special educational provision to help you make progress. See our page on what to do if the LA takes away your EHC plan for more information.

Who provides this support?

The support required should be set out in the EHC plan. Reviews in Year 9 onwards should identify what action should be taken, and by whom, to provide the support the young person needs (paragraph 8.11 of the Code).

Remember that anything which educates or trains you as a young person is capable of being special educational provision. Health care provision and social care provision which educates or trains you must be specified and quantified in section F of your EHC plan.

See the section on what an EHC plan contains and our EHC plan checklist to see whether the EHC plan contains everything it should, and what changes you should ask for.

It’s also important to remember that schools and colleges have duties to participate in the planning process for Year 9 onwards.  Paragraph 8.24 of the Code says:

“If it is clear that a young person wants to attend a different school (sixth form) or a college, then that school or college must co-operate, so that it can help to shape the EHC plan, help to define the outcomes for that young person and start developing a post-16 study programme tailored to their needs.”

What if the young person is not in education or training?

If you have an EHC plan and are aged under 18 but are not receiving education and training (for whatever reason), your LA must review your EHC plan “to ensure that the young person continues to receive education or training”. This is a legal duty found in regulation 29 of The SEND Regulations 2014.

Whilst this review is not, strictly, an annual review, your LA must carry out the review in line with regulations 18 and 19 of The SEND Regulations 2014. What this means is that it must follow the steps we set out on the page about the annual review process.

And finally…

LAs must not cease (or stop) an EHC plan for young people simply because they are aged 16 or over.

If you are a young person aged 19 – 25 years old with an EHC plan, you may need longer in education or training in order to achieve your outcomes and make an effective transition into adulthood. This is something else that your LA must consider during your annual reviews.

See our page on what to do if the LA takes away your EHC plan for more information.

 

If you haven’t been able to find the answer to your question on this page, see our FAQs.