NDTi have been delivering some inset days for school staff on behalf of Whole School SEND to both support a greater understanding of Preparing for Adulthood and the PfA pathways and to share ideas and best practice, concerns and worries regarding young people moving back into education beyond the restrictions of Covid-19.
Our first blog, Supporting children and young people with SEND to transition back to education, available to read on the SEND gateway, set the scene for why we wanted to deliver these sessions, and this second blog captures our learning and experience of delivering a second series of online training to support staff around locking in transitions for young people with SEND as we move out of some of the restrictions that Covid-19 created.
These sessions also continued with the theme of preparing young people for adulthood (PfA) but placed attention on employment pathways. For our second series there was a strong request to continue with the PfA theme but to particularly focus on employment pathways for young people with SEND. This was to help build the confidence of practitioners, give some practical measures that can help to support year 11 transitions, as well as an understanding of how to embed these processes working in partnership with local authorities, local health services and families and the Post-16 sector.
What did we learn?
Once again, the training received really positive feedback and was an opportunity to give us some insight into what’s working well and what the challenges and concerns are for those on the front line trying to support young people with SEND to ensure they get the most out of their education experience.
All of those who took part in the sessions work directly with children and young people with SEND, mostly in schools, mainly SENCO’s, Teachers and Teaching Assistants. We also had a handful of careers staff who joined us too.
What struck us was the lack of skills, knowledge and confidence for some people in understanding how to write good outcomes for young people that are holistic and stretch beyond the academic, especially PfA outcomes that must be addressed at the year 9 annual review, as outlined in Chapter 8 SEND Code of Practice.
What were participants worried about?
When asked about their specific concerns in supporting young people to move on from year 11 and have a successful transition, the participants responses were:
- How to ensure young people have confidence and self-resilience to move to their next steps
- How to make sure young people have all the information they need to make choices alongside a good understanding of what provision is available
- Concerns around needs for some students; visual impairment, physical disability, deaf and hearing impairments, and health challenges, and ensuring that the support is available for them moving forward
- Relationships between schools and colleges not always conducive to early planning
- Lack of work experience opportunities locally and worry about the job market moving forward
- Being able to support young people remotely and having to find creative ways for them to see possible options Post-16
When we asked about some of the solutions to these challenges, responses included the following:
- More taster days so that young people could try out new experiences and make better connections with colleges in their area
- Transition process to start earlier – for everyone, including clear information and expectations
- Intensive nurture programme on the curriculum which prepares them mentally, emotionally, and practically
- Greater use of resource provision to support inclusion
- A curriculum that prepares young people for adult life: employment, friends and relationships, community, health, and independence.
- Better support for families
- Simplified paperwork and an EHC plan that moves with the young person
- A central database that holds all the Post-16 provision and options in one place and a Post-16 navigator
- Incentives for employers to take on young people with SEND.
Employment can and must continue to be a real possibility for young people with SEND, even as we move out of lockdown - this PfA case study on Nathan shows what can be possible.
Since the sessions were delivered there has been a very clear directive from the Government that all schools and colleges will re-open in September for young people to continue their education and to spend time with their friends, along with a recent announcement of additional funding for both schools and alternative provision, and a recent U-turn around funding for FE.
The new government Kick Start Scheme seems to have completely missed out any opportunity to ensure young people with SEND are able to take advantage of this programme. There is a concern that employers may be put off taking part in Supported Internships for young people with SEND as the Kick Start programme comes with a £1,000 incentive for every new trainee an employer takes on.
For us what is important now more than ever is that young people with SEND do not remain disadvantaged and are not forgotten as we move back into the new normal, with continued focus on ensuring great outcomes and a belief in their ability to achieve and lead great lives.
Children and Young People Lead – National Development Team for Inclusion