Chapter 13 - Preparing for Adulthood

13.1 What is Preparing for Adulthood?

The term “Preparing for Adulthood” is used to describe the process of moving from childhood into adult life.  It is used by professionals to describe the changes in services when a child becomes an adult. 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 for young people to prepare them for the move from school or college to a successful and independent adult life, whether this is 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 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.

13.2 What is the Preparing for Adulthood Pathway?

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; 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.

13.3 Pathways to Preparing for Adulthood

Preparing for Adulthood means planning for: 

  • Further education and/or employment – this includes exploring different employment options, such as support for becoming self-employed and help from supported employment agencies
  • 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
  • Participating in society, including having friends and supportive relationships, and participating in, and contributing to, the local community
  • Being as healthy as possible in adult life To enable young people to progress and develop so that they can achieve their outcomes and make that positive transition into adulthood the local authority has developed and will continue to develop a number of pathways. 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 further education and or employment. 
Diagram detailing the different pathways to preparing for adulthood when leaving school, including traineeships, supported internships and further education.

Pathways to Preparing for Adulthood

This diagram details the different pathways to preparing for adulthood when leaving school, including traineeships, supported internships and further education. 

13.4 The Role of Annual Reviews

The Preparation for Adulthood Pathway begins with the Year 9 Annual Review. At this review, discussions will take place that explore the types of opportunities that will be available for young people with SEND, what they will need to do to prepare for one of these opportunities, what qualifications they might need, what support will be available and who will support them.  This information will be contained in the Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and it will be reviewed each year to ensure it is still appropriate.  Other agencies, such as social care and other professionals should be included in these discussions and informed that this process is underway.

The Year 10 review will build on what was discussed at the Year 9 review by supporting the young person and their family to explore the young person’s aspirations and abilities and consider the best post 16 pathway for them.  Subsequent reviews will be held in a similar way, ensuring that young people are involved in making decisions about their future.  Schools have a statutory duty to ensure that young people are provided with independent careers guidance to support them to make a well-informed realistic decision from the provision available to them in the Local Offer.  As young people approach a transition, schools and post 16 providers should work closely to help the young person and their family with more detailed, personalised planning, for example, through taster days, link programmes and visits. This may involve considering back-up or contingency plans if the first option of choice depends on specific exam results.

A Final Review will take place in the year the young person leaves school. This will bring together the post 16 plans and help the young person progress towards adulthood.  It is important that schools share information with the receiving post 16 provider prior to the young person taking up their place, to ensure that suitable support is in place and that the college or training provider has a good understanding of the young person’s aspirations and how they should be supported.  The final review should ensure that the young person has been provided with impartial careers guidance to help them consider all of the options available to them and has applied for suitable post 16 provision.  Young people should be involved in discussions around their aspirations, support needs and be encouraged to promote their independence.

To find out more about the range of options available to young people available to them and their families as they leave school look at the Preparing for Adulthood page on the Wigan Council Local Offer website.

13.5 Pathways to Education

By the December, prior to leaving school, the young person should have a preferred option for their post 16 pathway. They should have been offered an interview to discuss the suitability of the provision and support required.  Alternative post 16 provision may be identified as a back-up option, which might be pursued if eligibility requirements are not met for their first choice of provision.

In January to March, the relevant post 16 providers will apply to the Local Authority for additional High Needs support costs.  This will be done via the V10 Form and will define the outcomes and support required, tailored to meet the individual’s needs.  Support being requested should be personalised and evidenced-based and linked directly to learning outcomes in the EHC Plan.  Outcomes for young people must be ambitious and challenging.

By 31st March the EHC Plan will have been amended to name the receiving post 16 provider.  If the young person later proves to be ineligible for a place at this post 16 institution (i.e. does not achieve the entry grades specified) alternative provision will be considered and agreed with the young person and their family and the Plan will be amended to reflect this.

Study Programme

A Study Programme is available to 16-19 year olds and consists of an academic programme or a substantial vocational qualification and is a mixture of qualification and non-qualification (tutorial and work experience) hours.  For the non-qualification hours, learners are required ‘where appropriate…to take part in work experience’, that is relevant to their course of study.  Young people who haven’t yet achieved GCSE Grade ‘C’ in English and maths at 16 will continue to study these subjects, by taking Functional Skills or similar provision to enable them to progress towards their GCSE achievement.

Those students who aren’t able to study an academic programme or a substantial vocational qualification due to their level of need, will follow a non-qualification programme.  The activities must prepare them well for employment, independent living, being healthy adults and participating in society. Young people should not be repeating learning they have already completed successfully.

The Post 16 provider must undertake Annual Reviews to ascertain progress made towards objectives in the EHC Plan, that support remains effective and is adjusted where necessary and to discuss onward transition.  For funding to be continued beyond the first year of study, the reviews will need to demonstrate that young people are making progress towards their individual objectives.

The EHC Plan will cease if:

  • When the Local Authority is confident that the objectives in the plan have been met and it is considered that the young person no longer needs special educational provision.
  • The young person is not undertaking any type of education leading to accreditation.
  • A young person aged 16 or over leaves education to take up paid employment (including employment with training but excluding apprenticeships
  • The young person enters higher education
  • The child or young person has moved to another local authority area

For some young people, their EHCP will continue beyond the age of 19, if it is considered that the young person requires a longer period in education or training in order to achieve their outcomes and make an effective transition into adulthood.

13.6 Pathways to Employment

The vast majority of young people with SEN are capable of sustainable paid employment with the right preparation and support.  All professionals working with them should share that presumption.  Post 16 institutions must consider the specific needs of young people with SEN when designing pathways to employment. This includes identifying the skills that employers value, and helping young people to develop them. All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience, and achieve the qualifications they need, to succeed in their careers.

Reviews in school should help young people recognise the skills and identify work experience opportunities to explore employment, allowing them to have work based learning opportunities, giving first-hand experience of the world of work. A young person will maintain their EHC Plan if they entered the following employment with training opportunities:

  • Traineeships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Supported internships

The EHC Plan will cease if a young person enters an employment option other than those specified below.


These are education and training programmes with work experience, focusing on giving young people the skills and experience they need to help them compete for an apprenticeship or other jobs. Traineeships last a maximum of six months and include core components of work preparation training, English and maths (unless GCSE A*-C standard has already been achieved) and a high quality work experience placement. Young people can retain their EHC Plan when on a traineeship. For more information go to the Find a traineeship webpage (external link).


These are paid jobs that incorporate training, leading to nationally recognised qualifications. Apprentices earn as they learn and gain practical skills in the workplace. Many lead to highly skilled careers. Young people with EHC plans can retain their plan when on an apprenticeship. For more information go to the Apprenticeships webpage (external link).

Supported internships

These are structured study programmes for young people with an EHC Plan, based primarily at an employer. Internships normally last for a year and include extended unpaid work placements of at least six months. Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Students complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if suitable, and English and maths to an appropriate level. Young people with EHC plans will retain their plan when undertaking a supported internship.

Young people may be eligible for funding from Access to Work. This is available from the Department for Work and Pensions.  Schools and Post 16 institutions should support young people to apply if they are considering entering into apprenticeships, traineeships or supported internships. For more information go to the Access to work webpage (external link).

The local authority will work in partnership with the young person, the family and the post 16 institution to determine the best route for them. A thorough assessment will be conducted to ascertain the student’s potential, abilities, interests and areas they want to develop. A similar assessment will be carried out with any potential work placement to make certain the experience is a positive one for the young person.  

The Local Offer will identify where employment and training opportunities can be obtained.  The local authority will work with young people and their families to access the appropriate Preparing for Adulthood Pathway to meet their individual needs and career aspirations. See the Wigan Council website Special Educational Needs and Disability - Local Offer. 

13.7 Education, Health and Care: Roles and Responsibilities

Young people with SEND turning 18 may become eligible for adult social care, regardless of whether they have an EHC plan or whether they have been receiving services from children’s social care.

The Care Act 2014 and the associated regulations set out the requirements on local authorities for young people who are approaching 18 and who are likely to require an assessment. The regulations have been developed to support effective transition from children’s to adult social care services. Children’s Services must continue until adult provision has started or a decision made that the young person is not eligible for adult services. Where a young person has been assessed as having social care needs in relation to SEND they will be referred to the SEND Social Work Team, up to the age of 18 (in special circumstances up to age 19).

13.8 Funding for Post 16 Young People with SEND

In the context of this guidance a young person is someone over the compulsory school leaving age and under 25 years of age.  

Young people who have Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) can attract extra funding to assist schools and colleges in supporting them to achieve their educational outcomes and experience a successful transition into adult life. The Employment and Skills Act now states that a young person is expected to stay in learning until their 18 birthday; this can be extended to 25 for young people with SEND.  However this does not mean that there is an automatic entitlement to support post 19. The local authority may cease a plan after the age of 19 if it is not appropriate for the support to continue.  
The local authority receives funding from a government department known as the Education and Funding Agency (EFA).  This is used to fund the high needs places that institutions request; this is known as the ‘High Needs Block’.  A high needs place refers to a young person whose support needs are calculated at being above £6,000. Funding for young people with SEND is similar to funding for children in schools. It is made up of three elements:

Element 1 is the funding that all post 16 institutions receive if they hold a contract with the EFA.  It may differ depending on the type of institution and is paid to all institutions for every student regardless of their support needs. It is used to deliver the programmes. These can be:

  • Stand-alone qualifications
  • A study programme
  • Units towards qualifications
  • Work experience
  • A Traineeship, Apprenticeship or a Supported Internship. 

Element 2 - The setting will provide additional support from within their core funding. The nationally prescribed threshold per pupil, per year, is currently £6000.  Many young people have support needs. However, this does not mean they are categorised as having SEND, that they will require an EHC Plan and will attract extra funding through the High Needs Block.  Post 16 institutions receive funding from the EFA and from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). The funding they receive is used to support young people whose additional support needs are assessed as costing below £6,000.  A young person will only attract extra funding from the local authority if the cost of their support needs are assessed as being above the prescribed threshold. They may then be entitled to support from the High Needs Block. The SFA is responsible for young people who are aged 19 and over and under 25, who are not subject to an Education, Health and Care Plan.  The local authority is not responsible for agreeing places or for funding for this group of young people.  This is the responsibility of the college or work-based learning provider where their training/learning is taking place.

Element 3 - is the extra funding, sometimes referred to as ‘top up’ funding, that post 16 institutions can apply for if they are educating someone whose needs are assessed as costing above £6,000. There is no requirement for an EHC Plan for a young person for whom a college receives additional top-up funding except in the case of a young person who is over 19. However, in the majority of cases, young people attracting funding will have an EHC Plan or a Learning Disability Assessment (LDA).  This funding will differ for every young person as it is based on an individual assessment of their support needs. Post 16 institutions requesting this funding must be able to demonstrate what the needs of the young person are, what support they will put in place and how this support will ensure the young person meets the outcomes outlined in their plan.  LDAs will be phased out by September 2016.

Personal budgets can be considered to fund elements of the programme.  Young people and parents of children who have EHC plans have the right to request a Personal Budget, which may contain elements of education, social care and health funding.  Users can either take their personal budget as a direct payment, leave the local authority with the responsibility to commission the services or they can have a combination of the two.  The transition social worker will help the young person and their family to develop a personalised programme of activities and support using their personal budget. See Chapter 2, Section 2.7 for Personal Budgets.

A chart showing the process for Preparing for Adulthood for new learners.

Process for Preparing for Adulthood – New Learners

This diagram shows the process for Preparing for Adulthood for new learners. 

Process for new learners

A funding document (V10) which describes the support needs of the young person and outlines the associated costs will be submitted to the local authority.  The Preparing for Adulthood Team will negotiate and agree the content of the V10 and confirm that the funding request is supported. All applications for funding are then submitted to the SEND Panel for ratification; following which, a contract will be issued to the Post 16 institution.

Funding is agreed on an annual basis; requests for continuing funding must be accompanied by an annual review and an updated V10.

Process for Preparing for Adulthood – Continuing Learners

January – March

  • Institution to notify Local Authority of Annual Review
  • Local Authority to attend Annual Review

April – May

  • Receipt of Annual Review documentation with an updated
  • V10 supported by a completed destination form


  • Assessment of Annual Review and updated V10 carried out and judgement made as to suitability of continuation and placement


  • Funding decisions for continuation of placement confirmed and communicated to institutions.
  • Continuation of placement confirmed with parents/carers


  • Updated schedule of contract issued

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