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Preparing for Adulthood (Transition)


What do we mean by ‘Preparing for Adulthood’?

The term ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ is used to describe the process of moving from childhood into adulthood. Young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) should have equal life chances as they ‘transition’ into adulthood.
However, this transition can happen at different times for different families. Some families may feel their children are not ready for adulthood but that is what the transition process is for; to help build those stepping stones and provide the right skills for young people to prepare them for the move from school or college to a successful and independent adult life. This could be into Further Education, employment, Supported Internship/employment, training or volunteering.
During transition there will be changes in the support that is offered. There will also be emotional changes to go through as the young person starts the journey to becoming an adult and more independent. As well as leaving school and perhaps going to college or training, young people will be making new friends, starting new relationships, and maybe thinking about where they want to live. These decisions and changes can be both exciting and challenging.

If a young person has a learning disability, making this transition can be even more complicated. There may be a number of different agencies involved in supporting the transition including health, social care and education services and these will all change as the young person approaches adulthood. In addition, these changes may happen at different times and it can be challenging to ensure that they are joined up.


What is important to young people as they ‘Prepare for Adulthood’?

Most young people require support in four areas to ensure the transition into adulthood is smooth:

  1. Further education and/or employment – this includes exploring different employment options, such as support for becoming self-employed and help from supported employment agencies.

  2. Independent living – this means young people having choice, control and freedom over their lives and the support they have, their accommodation and living arrangements, including supported living and are equipped with the right skills to do so.

  3. Participating in society - including having friends and supportive relationships, and participating in, and contributing to, the local community.

  4. Being as healthy as possible in adult life - Together with social care and health services, joint commissioning arrangements will be made to secure health and care provision to support and prepare young people for adulthood and maintain good health and wellbeing.


What is the Preparing for Adulthood Pathway? When does it start?

The Preparing for Adulthood Pathway starts when the young person is in Year 9 (13 or 14 years old) and will continue until they leave school, college or Further Education.  Transition support from other agencies may continue until the young person is 25.

During Year 9 the transition process will begin to prepare young people for adulthood. The young person, the family, the school, professionals working with the young person and representatives from the local authority will discuss the most appropriate pathway and services that are needed, and agree a transition plan.

The plan will identify who needs to do what and by when to help with the young person's transition. This plan is then reviewed annually until the young person has left school.

We have co- produced a comprehensive guide to preparing for adulthood with factsheets containing information on key subjects to help inform carers of young people 14-25 years with SEND. These have been produced alongside Tameside parent carer forum  (Parents and carers of children with additional needs). 

Preparing for adulthood factsheets   

Who can help?

The Preparation for Adulthood Manager based in adult services provides a link between children's and adult services and can provide information and advice about adult services.

Children with Disabilities Team (CWD) provide a range of care and support services such as care in the home, holiday activity schemes, respite services and advice, guidance and counselling to young people and their families.

Health Transitions Worker, Integrated Learning Disabilities Service – provides a link for health needs between children’s and adult health.

Physiotherapists can support young people who have difficulties and problems with movement and posture or have respiratory difficulties. They aim to improve breathing, mobility, circulation and strengthen muscles.

Speech and Language Therapists assess and provide therapy for young people with communication and/or eating and swallowing difficulties.

Educational Psychologists work with schools and parents/carers to assess and offer support with a young person's learning and development.

Further information: