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Preparing for Adulthood and Employment

Preparing for Adulthood can be an exciting time for many young people.  There may be new opportunities, choices and increased independence, but it can also be a difficult and uncertain time for young people and their parents and carers. It might require more careful consideration and planning.  However, there is lots of support to help you.

Suffolk County Council and its partners want to help children, young people and their families to live fulfilled lives by moving successfully into adulthood and independence where possible. 

Suffolk County Council has produced a guide that includes lots of information to support transition from age 16.  It covers information on education, training, work and leisure, health and social care and contact details for key services. ­

Download our SEND 16+ Transitions Guide

Support and advice for Post 16 education, training or work

Planning your child’s future is important and schools and Local Authorities have a duty to help your child and you plan for their future. This should always have the wishes and feelings of the young person at the centre.

All young people with an EHCP should have a Moving Into Adulthood (MIA) plan. This should start from Year 9 and be updated each year.  The plan outlines the steps that need to be taken to make the transition into Post 16 learning successful.  The plan is drawn up with input from the young person, parents and carers as well as other professionals such as the school SENCo, social workers, health professionals, local authority staff and careers advisers. (Other young people with SEND can also have a Moving Into Adulthood plan).

The MIA plan will include information about:-

  • The ideas, hopes and dreams your child has for their future.
  • What support they might need to achieve this.
  • The best place for your child to continue in their education.

To ensure you get the most out of the transition planning, it is important to help your child to think about what they like and their hopes for the future.  Some young people will need more support to do this, therefore it may be helpful to ask others who know them well what they think.

It is now mandatory for all schools and colleges to have a Careers Leader in place. This person should have an overview of what support is in place for your child whilst they are in school or college.  They will work with others in the school or college to make sure that all students in their organisation have access to a programme of careers education, including opportunities to meet employers – both in the school or college – or outside visits, work tasters or work experience.

They will also ensure that students have the chance to speak to a qualified careers adviser who will have expert knowledge about the pathways and opportunities in the local area and will be able to help you and your child think about what best meets their individual needs.

All schools and colleges must also publish on their website details of the careers programme that is on offer for all students, along with name of the Careers Leader.

Education and Learning

All young people need to stay in learning until they are at least 18.  This could be school, 6th Form college, Further Education college, a Training provider or an Apprenticeship or traineeship.  There are lots of options available and it is important to get some help to explore which options are right for your child. All courses are free until young people are at least 19 as long as they qualify for residency in the UK.  There may also be bursaries that they can apply for. Look on the websites for eligibility criteria.

Your current school may have a 6th form that has courses suitable and relevant to your child’s plans or they may look at another school 6th Form, or a 6th Form College such as Suffolk One or Abbeygate 6th Form. You may need to look at schools, colleges and training providers in other counties too for provision that meets your child’s needs.

Further education (FE) colleges provide a range of courses suitable for students or all abilities and interests. You can find more information on the college websites:

Apprenticeships are available across Suffolk. This means your child will be working, learning and earning in a particular job. Traineeships and Supported Internships are available for young people who need more help and support to get into a job or Apprenticeship.

You can find more information on The Source – Suffolk’s website for young people.

Planning early will help you and your child to make sure that the school or college makes any adjustments necessary to make the course accessible to them. The earlier they know, the sooner they can plan changes and get the support in place your child needs. You may also need to consider transport arrangements and get these in place. Here is a link for more information on travel

For students wishing to progress to higher education or university, there is a range of financial and personal support to help them achieve in their studies. Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) are grants to help pay for support that you may need when at University. You may be eligible if you have a Mental Health Condition, specific learning difficulty, Autistic Spectrum Condition, physical or visual disability and/or a long-term / life-long medical condition. Your DSA is a website that aims to simplify the process by providing clear information about each stage of the process. 

Employment – help getting a job

Employment helps people to be independent and be part of the community. For children and young people with SEND, getting work experience and developing employability skills is very important. It can also help an employer to recognise the skills that the young person can bring to their organisation.

Meeting employers

Schools and colleges have a duty to ensure all young people have opportunities to meet with employers during their time in education – an aspect which is inspected by Ofsted. This could be an employer coming to the school or college to talk to students about their job, help with a project, give students opportunities for a mock interview or mentor a student. Many schools hold careers fairs where students get the chance to talk to lots of employers in one day.  Meetings with employers may also happen online via a secure virtual platform.

Work experience

Your child should also be offered the chance to do some work experience during their time in education. This could be for a fixed period of time, such as one full week or spread over a number of weeks during a term. This could be a virtual work experience or work inspiration opportunity. Schools and colleges have a responsibility to help students prepare for these kinds of experiences.


Volunteering can also help students develop skills that will help them in future employment. There are formal programmes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award or National Citizenship Service that schools and colleges will be involved in. You could also help your child to do some voluntary work outside school or college in an area that they are interested in. However, your child may need to be over 16 to take part in external voluntary work and they may need some support.

It is often hard for a young person to think about what they may want to achieve from their adulthood when they are in their early teens. But early planning is the key to success and so it's really helpful if parents and carers can work with their young people to start thinking about this.

All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience and achieve the qualifications they need to succeed.

Search our directory for organisations who can help.

Health - keeping yourself well

Growing up and becoming more independent it is important to be aware of your health needs and how to look after yourself.

There are a range of health services available for young people with special educational needs and disabilities such as: GPs, hospitals, dentists, pharmacists, and opticians. In some cases, you may need to access specialised services which may be different depending on your need.

Visit our health section for more information on the services available for young people.

Community inclusion – friends and relationships

Friendships, relationships and being a part of the community, they live in are important to a young person's quality of life. There are many ways to get involved other than being in education or employment.

Clubs / Groups

There’s a wide range of clubs and groups young people can access within Suffolk to gain friendships and receive support.

To find out what’s available, search our local offer directory.


Volunteering can provide alternative opportunities to gain skills, achieve your goals, and develop valuable experience which could help you into paid employment.

Social media

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family however, it is important to make sure you are safe online. Foundation for people with learning disabilities have a downloadable easy read guide with information about social media and the internet.

Help and Benefits

Disability Living Allowance

Many disabled children qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The care component of DLA can be paid from the first few months of life. The high rate of mobility component can be paid from the age of 3, and the lower rate from the age of 5.

DLA for a child is normally paid to the parent. When the young person reaches the age of 16 the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) should check whether the young person is capable of managing the money for him or herself. If this is not possible the parent or some other person should be their appointee to manage their affairs. It is likely that the DLA award will come to an end from the 16th birthday and the family will be invited to apply for the Personal Independence Payment.

Personal Independence Payment

From June 2013 Disability Living Allowance started to be replaced for people aged 16 and above by the new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). There can be no more new claims for Disability Living Allowance from working age adults. Instead they can claim Personal Independence Payment.

When an award of DLA is due to run out (including when a child with DLA reaches the age of 16), people may not be able to renew their DLA claim but instead will be invited to claim PIP. From October 2015 the Department for Work and Pensions started reviewing all adult DLA awards.

Personal Independence Payment is similar to Disability Living Allowance. It has a ‘daily living’ component and a mobility component. The claiming and assessment process is different. Most applicants have to undergo a medical assessment.

Disabled student allowance

This is intended to help students attending full-time and part-time higher education courses benefit as fully as possible from their course and is designed to cover special equipment, non-medical helpers and other general expenses. See the GOV.UK disabled student allowance web page for more information.

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