Transition through education

Transition from year 9 - preparing for adulthood

Preparing for adulthood, also known as transition, begins when young people are in Year 9 at school (13 or 14 years old) and carries on until they are 25.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) support

Early transition planning is very important, particularly, for young people with SEND who may have additional support needs as they get older.

Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) annual reviews

A young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan must have an annual review at Year 9, that focuses on preparing for adulthood.

Professionals from education, health and social care services (where appropriate) should all be involved in planning and supporting this from Year 9 and into adulthood and preparing for adulthood planning should include support to:

  • prepare for further/higher education and/or employment
  • prepare for independent living
  • maintain good health in adult life
  • participate in society, including support in developing and maintaining friendships and relationships

Person centred planning

It’s really important that young people are at the centre of all of these discussions.

The voice of our children and young people is really important in the planning process. Discussions about developing their independence, making friends and feeling positive about being in their local community should all be at the centre of planning to enable support to meet their current and future needs.

Year 9 annual review (age 13 – 14)

Gaining greater independence and learning skills towards employment can be life-transforming for children and young people with SEND. Preparation towards this should start in schools and settings no later than Year 9 (age 13 or 14).

Preparing for adulthood is an ongoing process and the Year 9 annual review is the first of several transition/planning meetings that takes place every year with the young person until they leave school in Year 11 or Year 14.

Whether your child or young person has an EHC plan or is on SEN support, all reviews and plans should be centred around their needs, hopes and aspirations for their future.

Our my life my review workbook will help to capture the child or young person’s feelings and aspirations.

This discussion should result in a transition plan that records clear objectives, the provision needed and clear outcomes.

Throughout the transition to adulthood process young people will have their needs assessed and plans will be updated to help ensure that their needs as adults are identified, and services put into place. EHC plans are reviewed annually, or when required, to reflect their changing needs as they grow older.

Year 10 – 11 (age 14 – 15)

At the end of year 11, some children with SEND will need extra help to help them successfully take the GCSE exams that will help them to go on to further education. Some may need extra time, a computer or a smaller/ individual room where they have fewer distractions.

If you are concerned talk to the SENCO or examinations officer at school as soon as possible about access arrangements.

Remember to raise any concerns you have at the annual review of the EHC plan.

Year 11 (age 15-16)

Year 11 is the last year of compulsory schooling.

If your child wants to apply for a school 6th form or college place, check websites for open evenings/days. You can use the search facility on  to find courses and apply online. The deadline for applications for sixth form and college courses is 31 January.

Remember to check the grades that are needed to access sixth forms.  The entry requirements for students with EHC plans, where it is expected that they will cope with the course and it meets their needs can be more flexible.

If your child is moving to college after Year 11, their course may not cover five full days, so it is important to think about what other provision may be available to support young people. If a young person has an EHC Plan, their allocated EHCP coordinator can provide support for this.

Decisions about EHC plans

When a young person reaches the end of compulsory school age (defined as the last Friday in June of the school year in which they turn 16), some rights related to EHC plans transfer from the parents to the young person.

These are: the right to ask for an EHC needs assessment, the right to make representations about the content of their EHC plan, the right to ask that a particular education setting is named in their plan, the right to request a personal budget, and the right of appeal to the SEND tribunal.

If you think your young person lacks mental capacity to make these decisions, you should alert the local authority and inform them that you want to act as your child’s representative. When making decisions on behalf of your young person, you must comply with the Mental Capacity Act.

The Mental Capacity Act

Post 16 education and training

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.

You can request the preparing for adulthood pathways, reference guide for young people aged 14-25 years using our feedback form to make your request.