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Preparing for Adulthood- preparing for work


Start with an expectation of work as an option for all young people…

Young people with additional needs and/or disabilities can and want to work.

Different employability and employment options are available for all young people.

A young person’s first experience of work may not be when they leave school/college. Many young people have part-time jobs while they are still in education.

  • Gaining experience builds confidence
  • Learning while doing encourages young people to develop good employment habits.


Actions need to be taken at different stages by different people to make sure that young people can progress along the most appropriate route into paid work.

Schools have a role to play in ensuring all students are being prepared for employment. 

Careers guidance and access for education and training providers - Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff (January 2018)

Page last updated: 24/10/18

What can parents and young people do?

Families need to know about the local systems, mainstream and specialist that support young people into employment and how to access them with additional support if necessary.

  • Plan early
  • Ask questions about how the process worked for others with a similar profile and interest to see if those options are worth exploring.
  • Speak with other parents and young people who have already been through this stage to see what they recommend or would have done differently
  • Think about and be able to talk about what is important to you now and in the future
  • Involve supported employment services
  • Get good advice about options from the school and careers advisor
  • Make sure planning takes place to support all the needs of the young person needed to make employment possible

Work related resources for SEND learners and young people...

The Right Place – work placements for SEND learners

Supported by funding from the Department for Education, MENCAP are working with employers and education providers across England with the aim of securing work placements for 500 young people with a learning disability by March 2019.

Work placements provide an opportunity for people with a special educational need or disability to get the real workplace experience and employment skills that can help secure a paid job.

If you are a college, school or other education provider supporting students with SEND on study programmes, MENCAP’s Right Place project can provide you with access to agreed work placements with employers, and offer support to make them successful. 

Placements will be passed on to you, to match available SEND students into work placements and support them in the workplace.  The projects also offers guidance and information to settings on developing links with employers for placements and ongoing support to develop your practice.

Find out more: MENCAP – The Right Place project


Preparing for adulthood – Work Experience Resources

Work Experience Guide for Employers and Education Providers

A new short guide from Preparing for Adulthood aims to support employers and education providers (e.g. schools and colleges) to understand that with good partnership working, the barriers that make it harder or stop young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from accessing work experience, can be broken down helping lives to be changed; one experience at a time.

Work experience is an important part of any young person’s journey towards employment. Evidence shows that young people who have four or more quality work experiences or related activities, while still in education, are five times more likely to get a paid job.

Find out more: Preparing for adulthood – Work Experience Guidance


Routes Into Work Factsheet for young people, parents and carers and others

The Preparing for Adulthood website also contains a factsheet on routes into work.  This factsheet provides information about options for young people with SEND to help them move into paid employment. It explains more about what qualifications are required to access:

  • study programmes
  • supported internships
  • traineeships and apprenticeships
  • where to find out more information about options
  • how to apply to join a study or training programme.

Find out more: Preparing for Adulthood Factsheet - Routes into work

Annual reviews and planning meetings in school

Always attend review and planning meetings.

Ask for information in advance so that you can make the best use of them. If you cannot attend ask if the meeting can be rescheduled to a time when you are available.

Take time to prepare for the annual reviews. Use them as an opportunity to think about how further education or training can support any career plans and lead to employment.

If you don’t understand something that is being discussed ask the person talking to explain it more clearly.

Take someone to meetings with you if you find this helpful. A family member, friend or someone from a service that you find helpful.


Year 9

When young people are 14 years old it may seem early to be planning for a job, but it is important to PLAN for work experience the following year.

As children and young people progress through school, especially through mainstream school if they are taking GCSEs, the curriculum gets increasingly busy. Introducing work as a clear expectation helps push it in as an idea to be explored and developed.

A career plan should be developed and discussed during Year 9 at school.

Year 10

It is important that a school or settings curriculum takes account of a young person’s aspirations for the future and helps them develop the skills they will need.

The year 10 review meeting is an opportunity to discuss:

  • Work experience that has already taken place or is being planned
  • Build on the career plan.
  • Check curriculum options are still appropriate and ambitious
  • Discuss part-time work and what the young person will do after they are 16


Year 11 and beyond

By the Year 11 review meeting the career plan should be based on completed work experience and set out what the young person is going to do in the following year and beyond based on their work related interest.

Part time work such as a Saturday or holiday job is desirable. 

Some young people may have used Direct Payments or an indicative personal budget so that they are able to have more choice and control on how a funded support plan will work once they leave school or college. This can allow them to plan how to use some of their budget to support them with employment.

Person-centred support for young people with and without EHC plans should provide enough good information for planning the next stage. 

A single transition/support plan can be included as part of a young person’s EHC Plan. 

This should be helpful and clear enough to see young people through to their next phase of life, whether it is an internship, college course, supported employment, apprenticeship or self-employment.

Building employment skills

Personalisation, supported employment and transition planning needs to take place across all services involved with young people who have SEND to make sure they have the best chance of securing paid employment.

Schools may work with national organisations like National Citizen Service (NCS) that offer opportunities to get experience to add to a CV, learn new skills, meet new people and get experience planning and running a project.

There are many opportunities in Hackney for young people to get experience through volunteering.

Study Programmes

Students aged 16 – 18 attending further education colleges will be enrolled on Study Programmes made up of different elements or a menu of learning that helps prepare them for adult life including finding work.

Qualifications - vocational or academic qualification will make up the main part of your programme. Students will be exploring their collections of A’level subjects or B’tech subject through practical work and theory.


English and Maths - It is the government’s wish that all young people achieve a minimum grade 4 (previous grade C) or higher mark in their Maths and English exams.

Colleges will help people who have not already achieved these results retake them again.

Those that have achieved the required grades or above will be supported to extended their subject knowledge to higher level.

Work experience – A minimum of 30 hours work experience will be included as part of a study programme.

Colleges will have links with organisations and employers that will help students find opportunities to meet this requirement.

This may be condensed into consecutive weeks or spread across your time at college.

Personal Social development – To enable all students to develop, formulate ideas, express opinions and achieve their potential they are supported to become independent and self-motivated learners. Students will be supported to continue developing an understanding of themselves and others through tutorials and learning about equality and diversity.


Developing good employment habits

Learn and practice skills that lead to good employment habits:

  • travel training
  • telling the time and time management (supported by schools and colleges)
  • communication skills e.g. using mobile phones or apps
  • understanding and using money


Options available may include:

Support staff should work together and recognise the importance of employment planning and the part they play. 

Roles and responsibilities should be clearly explained so that young people and their families know who will support them.

Professionals supporting young people and their families can help them access information about employment options and make them aware of the full range of choices available and provide information on “in work” benefits for young people with additional needs and or disability trying work options.

Jobcentre Plus and supported employment services can inform young people about how the system works in each local area, and what support and funding is available to help people find and keep jobs.


Work experience

Using supported employment methods means it is more likely that work experience will be successful. Meaningful, successful work experience based on a young person’s interests and abilities builds a better understanding of the possibilities and challenges of work and build confidence and resilience.

Different agencies supporting young people to plan and live their lives should focus on young people’s interests and abilities rather than their difficulties.

The young person’s work career plan can then be developed and future opportunities targeted at the kind of work they may enjoy.

Mainstream schools and colleges should link with employment services during the year that work experience is offered. These services can then provide enhanced support for those that need it.

Specialist Schools may have bespoke programmes and arrangements information on which should be made available on request.

Who will support the young person to develop their career plan?

Reviews from year 9 onwards are ideal opportunities to provide young people and their families with good, accessible information about services and options.

Providing examples of young people with SEND who have previous experience of this process helps prove the concept and show what is possible.  

Information and support could come from the school curriculum, a careers service, a supported employment service or the young person’s family connections or circle of support.

Research shows that the most successful employment outcomes happen when best practice in supported employment is used:

  • in-depth person centred planning
  • job searching (supported in necessary)
  • job coaching
  • on-going support

People with learning disabilities may receive support from a job coach trained in systematic instruction’.

Training in Systematic Instruction gives people working with (and for) vulnerable people the skills and knowledge to provide the expert support needed to teach them to learn practical skills associated with work and other aspects of  independent living.

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