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School stages and transition planning

Moving from one stage of school to another is a time of change. For children with Additional Learning Needs (ALN), these transitions require careful planning.

Your child or young person should be at the centre of this process, parents and carers should also be involved at all stages in the process.

What is transition?

Transition is moving from one stage or phase of education to another. Sometimes this might include moving school or setting.

Transition is a time of change. For children and young people with ALN, transition requires careful planning. Your child or young person should be at the centre of this process. You should also be involved at all stages in the process.

Parents can ask for advice from supporting professionals for children moving from one stage to another, this might include:

  • Advisory / specialist teachers
  • Health visitor
  • Therapist (occupational / physiotherapy and speech and language)
  • Early years setting leader
  • Class teacher
  • Additional Learning Needs Coordinator
  • Local authority professional
  • Parent Partnership officer

You can ask for a transition planning meeting, or arrange to visit a setting.

Below is a table of the different 'School Stages' children and young people progress through:

Educational StageChild's AgeSchool or setting type
Early Years (EY)0-3 yearsPre-school or nursery optional
Foundation Phase (FP)3-7 yearsInfant, preparatory or primary
Key Stage 2 (KS2)7-11 yearsPrimary
Key Stage 3 (KS3)11-14 yearsSecondary
Key Stage 4 (KS4)14-16 yearsSecondary - GCSE years
Key Stage 516-19 yearsSixth Form, secondary, further educational college, work based placement

Year 9 transition

In the SEN Code of Practice, Transition also refers to transition to adulthood, for pupils from Year 9 onwards.

Leaving school and moving on to adult life can be a worrying time for all young people and their families. For pupils who have statements of special education needs (SEN), a planning system and a transition protocol is available to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

The following points should be considered for young people as part of Transition Planning:

The young person

  • The young person's wishes and feelings should be at the centre of their plan.
  • What are the young person's hopes and aspirations for the future? How can these be met?
  • How can the young person be encouraged to contribute to their plan?
  • Alternative methods of communication should be considered, if necessary.
  • What is working well and what is not working well for them at the moment?

The parents

  • What are the parent / carer's hopes and aspirations for their young persons adult life?
  • How can parents / carer's continue to help to contribute to the development of their young persons skills?

The professionals

Careers Wales will have the lead role in ensuring the delivery of the elements of the transition plan that relate to the young person's transition into further learning or employment.

Careers Wales may visit the school and should interview the young person concerning their hopes for the future if they are leaving school at 16. The young person and their parents / carers should visit local college(s) to find out if these are suitable for their needs and also think about work experience.

For young people with greater needs it will be essential to find out about what choices there are as these are more limited.

For all parents and young people, it will be helpful to talk to others who have been through the process.

Post school opportunities for young people with ALN

A successful transition planning process will help give a clear understanding of what opportunities are available for young people post school. Young people can leave school legally at the end of June in the school year when they reach the age of 16.

From here, they can usually make their own decisions about what they want to do. Some will, however, need support with making plans. The main Post 16 options are:

  • Staying at school can provide many opportunities and be a positive choice. Some young people are able to stay at school until they are 19. The adviser from Career Wales can give you detailed information about the courses and qualifications on offer locally.
  • Attending a local college of further education while living at home is often the next step. Colleges can offer a very wide range and level of courses, both academic and work-related, which can be full or part-time. Many courses are designed to prepare young people for adult life by offering a range of vocational taster courses, the change to gain qualifications and improve skills in maths, English / Welsh and communication. Some students remain in their local college until the age of 25.
  • Specialist residential college - Nearly all young people with Additional Learning Needs and / or disabilities can go to their local college. Where no local college is able to meet a young person's needs, the special school in conjunction with Social Care and the Careers Adviser will work together to consider the most appropriate specialist provision.
  • Higher education will be an option for some young people whose academic ability enables them to access courses on offer. This could be at university, college or distance learning.
  • Supported work and training - A young person can enter the world of work through supported employment or a training program. There are a number of organisations that can help them find opportunities in real work situations. Many of these programs can lead to nationally recognised vocational qualifications.
  • Employment - Only a small proportion of young people go straight into employment from school. If this is the most appropriate option, the Careers Wales adviser can help with job-seeking skills.
  • Day service opportunities may be the most appropriate option for some young people. These are usually arranged in places where young people with a learning disability can pursue all sorts of interesting day time activities (often out of the day centre and in the local community). Here, they can make new friends, gain their own independence and become a valued member of the community. Day services are usually provided by Local Authority social services or voluntary organisations.


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