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Preparing for Adulthood

Preparing for Adulthood is a process that all young people go through when they move on from being a teenager and become an adult.  It can be an exciting time but it has also been recognised that this can be a very difficult time for some young people, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The information contained in this section will help you to find out what support, services or information may be available to help you and your family prepare for this important stage of your life.  You can either "View all services" or use the category buttons to narrow your search.

Together for Children and Sunderland City Council cannot recommend or endorse any providers or services listed.  Please read our full disclaimer here

We have provided some information below which you may find useful.


Preparing for Adulthood

All young people face major changes as they move from being teenagers to becoming adults and need to make important decisions about their future.  This change can be even more complicated if you have special educational needs, a learning difficulty or disability.  It is important that these young people receive the right support to achieve a smooth transition into adulthood.

A successful move can be achieved by providing the right information at the right time along with relevant support before, during and after the transition to a new place of study or work.

The SEND Code of Practice (0-25 years) states that 'with high aspirations, and the right support, the vast majority of children and young people can go on to achieve successful long-term outcomes in adult life'.

Local authorities and education providers must work with young people from Year 9 onwards to prepare them for adult life.  There are four areas that need to be considered:

  • higher education and/or employment - including exploring different employment options, such as support for becoming self-employed and help from supported employment agencies
  • independent living - enabling people to have choice and control over their lives and the support they receive, 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

The journey into adulthood

If a young person has an EHC Plan, schools have to start the formal preparing for adulthood process from Year 9 (aged 13/14), which will be the planning for your child’s move to further education, employment or training.  This means they will invite you, your child and any other professionals involved with your child to a Year 9 Preparing for Adulthood Review meeting. 

Children are supported in advance of the review in order for them to fully understand and maximise the potential opportunity of this review so they are able to make an informed contribution.  Preparation will explore what is important to the child now and for the future, how to support them best and to find out what their aspirations are.

From this meeting transition planning must be written into the revised EHC plan, including how any educational, health and social care needs will be met.  This will include details about planning for the transition from school to further education, training or employment and where relevant, transition arrangements from children’s to adult’s social care and health care services. 

The EHC Plan will be reviewed every 12 months and any appropriate changes will be made following the review.  In Years 10, and 11 the school is responsible for identifying EHC Plan review dates and the person in the school who will be the lead, e.g. the designated Teacher or SENCo.  The school is also responsible for circulating invitations to all key stakeholders.  

For more information about this process speak to your school SENCo or see the “Sunderland Multi-agency preparing for adulthood protocol and pathway for children and young people with SEND”.

The Department for Education have developed an outcomes tool that is designed to support the development of PfA outcomes in EHC plans across the age range. It explores the key indicators for preparing for adulthood at different ages and stages of development.  Download a copy of the tool here.

Sunderland's Preparing for Adulthood Pathway and Protocol

The Children and Families Act 2014 has brought about the most extensive changes to support for children and young people who have a special educational need and disability (SEND) for decades.  The legislation delivers a clear message that agencies must work together to provide careful preparation, multi-agency planning and excellent communication to ensure that young people who have SEND get the support they need so they can move from child, to young person, to adult as seamlessly as possible. 

Partners across education, health and social care have a key role to play in helping all children and young people with a learning difficulty and/or disability (LDD) prepare well for the transition to adulthood.  Sunderland have developed a protocol that sets out to address the roles, responsibilities and accountability for all partners whilst making sure the child, young person and their parent(s)/carer(s) are at the heart of the process.

This protocol will be used to ensure that a person centred, partnership approach to transition planning is key to its success.  The individual outcomes we aim to achieve with children and young people will enable them to take their place as adult citizens where their contribution to their local community is valued.

You can view and download a copy of the protocol by using the link on this page.

This Protocol is currently being reviewed and updated now Sunderland's new company Together for Children have taken over resposibility for Children's Services on behalf of Sunderland City Council.  Once the new document has been finalised it will be available to downloan here. 

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