Post 16 education and training

For some young people turning 16 may mean coming to the end of formal school life (normally the end of year 11), which is an important milestone in preparing for adult life.

Education Years 12 & 13 (age 17-19)

Raising the participation age means that young people must continue in education or training until 18. It does not mean you must stay in school; you can choose one of the following options:

  • Full-time education, such as school, college or learning provider
  • Work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Part-time education or training if you are employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week


To start or change your career you usually need a combination of experience and qualifications. An apprenticeship is a good way to combine on the job training with studying, usually for one day a week, towards a formal, nationally-recognised qualification at the end of your apprenticeship.


A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience that prepares a young person for their future career by helping them to become ‘work ready’. Designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience, traineeships provide the essential work preparation training, English, maths and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment.

For more information visit our starting work traineeships page or see government/collections/traineeships-programme

16+ Leaving care

The 16+ leaving care team provides help and support to children and young people who have been looked after by our social services and are leaving care.

Find out more

Transition to post 16 education and training for young people who have SEND

While some students with SEND may follow a study programme which help them achieve academic qualifications, others will follow programmes which focus on high-quality work experience and other non-qualification activities to help them prepare for employment and adult life.

Young people with an EHC Plan can also choose to undertake supported internships or traineeships which will support them to prepare for employment or apprenticeships.

Supported internships

Supported internships are structured study programmes based primarily at an employers site. They are intended to enable young people with SEND to achieve paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work through learning in the workplace. Internships normally last for a year and include 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.

Further education

Young people with SEND are not automatically entitled to have  an EHC plan after they turn 19. Many young people with EHC plans will have completed their further education by the age of 19, but there is a recognition that  some young people may need longer to complete and consolidate their education and training. The length of time will vary according to each individual up to the age of 25.

When a 19-to-25-year-old continues with an EHC plan, the local authority must review it at least annually. The plan must contain outcomes which should enable the young person to complete their education and training successfully and move on to the next stage of their lives.

Higher education

EHC plans are not in place for young people in higher education.  There are separate systems in place to support disabled young people in higher education, including Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

These are non-repayable grants that assist with the additional costs incurred by disabled students. DSAs fund a range of support, including assistance with the cost of:

  • specialist equipment
  •  travel
  • non-medical helpers (e.g. sign language interpreters)

For more information go to:

Where young people aged 18 or over continue to have EHC plans and receive support from adult social care, this will be provided under the Care Act 2014.

The EHC plan should be the overarching plan that ensures young people receive the support they need to help them achieve agreed educational outcomes. The statutory adult care and support plan should form the ‘care’ element of the young person’s EHC plan.

Need more help

Contact the information, advice and support service for free, impartial information, advice and support for parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Support is also offered to children and young people with SEND. They can also help provide information in a non-web format.

Useful resources

If you need more information or would like this information in a handy guide please contact use our feedback form to make your request.

The National Autism Society has created a Transition Support Service. There is a helpline, an email service and information available online.