Preparing for adulthood

This page tells you how SEND learners are supported to make the journey from school to the world of adulthood after education.

​This page tells you how SEND learners are supported to make the journey from school to the world of adulthood. Last Updated: 31/01/2020

Whatever your needs, abilities, or age, the main purpose of your education and training is to have a successful adulthood.
The information below explains how we in Northumberland help young people on that journey.
Preparing for adulthood in education
Adulthood begins at 18 years of age, but the SEND Code of Practice demands that preparation begin much earlier. For example:
  • Professionals across education, - including early years, schools, colleges - health, and social care should support learners to prepare for adult life. They should help them go on to achieve the best outcomes in employment, independent living, health, and community participation.
  • High aspirations are crucial to success. Discussions about longer term goals should start early and ideally well before Year 9 (age 13-14) at school. They should focus on the child or young person’s strengths and capabilities, and the outcomes they want to achieve.
  • Help with the transition into post-16 education, and from post-16 education into adult life.
Supporting young people 
The SEND Code also tells local authorities that:
  • from 16 years onwards it is the young person who decides their future. Although, there is nothing to stop them asking their parents, or others, to help them make the decision.
  • young people are entitled to the same quality and level of information, advice, and support as parents
  • young people must have confidence that they are receiving confidential and impartial information, advice, and support
  • young people may need specialist support to help them prepare for employment, independent living, - including housing - participation in society, and careers advice where needed.
For these reasons, you will find many of the documents below are written in a different style. They are intended for young people to read, but should be helpful for families too.
To find out more, speak to the person responsible for SEND at your school or college.

If you:
  • are over 16 and not in education or training
  • have an EHCP in Year 11 or above
  • are in alternative provision
  • have elected to educate at home
contact the careers guidance team at 01670 622799 or 07827 244 027, or email
Useful links
Please see the following links to find out more about preparing for adulthood with SEND:
This page tells you about the different pathways into employment for young people who are preparing for adulthood.

Each of us is on a journey that will take us from childhood to adulthood and it is a different experience for everyone. We want you to think about what is important to you and for you, and consider what support you may need to plan for your future. 

Preparing for adulthood can sometimes be confusing and difficult, as well as exciting and fun. 

It is important to start planning as early as possible. Your school or college will help you think about options for your future, and you will have independent careers guidance that will help inspire and motivate you to understand your full potential. 

Careers Guidance Team
As a team, we:

  • are committed to supporting the futures of all our young people
  • want to help young people explore their career aspirations and make informed choices about their next steps 
  • provide a variety of tools to help pupils prepare; this may include help with subject choices, higher education, apprenticeships, or other routes to further learning and work.

Careers Advisers
We are a team of fully qualified careers advisers offering impartial information, advice, and guidance to young people in Northumberland. Each secondary or special school in Northumberland has an allocated adviser. We will work closely with school and home to support students into a successful transition. 

All students with an EHCP in Year 11 will have a careers interview and a summary of the planned discussions/outcomes with their careers adviser. The team also supports those who don’t have an EHC Plan, but may need some guidance and advice, especially when they're in alternative provision or educated at home.

Supporting young people into adulthood - who can help?
Please click here to see a list of local providers for further education and employment support.

Pathways into employment
To help you begin your journey, we have collated information on the various pathways into employment. Some young people may go through a number of stages before finding employment.

Work may be part time, full time, voluntary, or with or without support in the job itself. 

Please click on the blue drop down box below to see the various pathways and opportunities available to young people:

A traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience. It unlocks the great potential of young people and prepares them for their future careers, by helping them to become ‘work ready’. 

Traineeships are designed to help young people aged 16-24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience. They provide the essential work preparation training, English, maths, and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment. 

The three main parts of a traineeship are:
  • a work placement
  • work preparation training
  • English and maths where the student is still to achieve GCSEs at grade C or 4, or the Functional Skills equivalent. 
Doing voluntary work can be a good way to get some work experience. It can help you when applying for paid work. 

Study programmes
There are a number of local training providers who offer the study programme. Trainees will gain work experience, undertake work related qualifications and, if necessary, will continue with their English and maths. Trainees may be entitled to a bursary.

Supported employment
Supported employment is individualised support to secure people with disabilities, long term conditions, and multiple barriers to work a sustainable, paid job in the open labour market.  

Further education
Local colleges have a number of routes that can lead to employment. One option is to undertake academic qualifications, such as GCSEs and A levels, which are accepted entry requirements for some jobs. Alternatively, further education can lead to higher education and then onto employment.

Another route is to do a vocational (work related) course; these can be in anything from bricklaying and engineering to beauty, tourism, and sport. Usually there are different levels of courses, and entry may depend on GCSE results or other qualifications. The courses can lead directly to a job or higher education. 

The final route is through courses run by the special needs departments. Often these courses are at entry level. They enable students to have work tasters and concentrate on gaining the skills they will need for the workplace.

Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification and develop work related skills, while earning a salary. There are usually entry requirements, as young people need to be working towards at least a level 2 qualification.

Please click here to view apprenticeship vaccancies on the National Apprenticeship website.

Supported internships
Supported internships are structured study programmes primarily based with an employer. They are designed for 16-24 year olds with special educational needs. Young people undertake work placements up to 4 days per week, with a strong emphasis on them gaining employment at the end of the programme.
Please click here to find out more about supported internships.

Higher education
Higher education is a form of study that leads to a degree. Further Education Colleges offer Foundation degrees; Universities offer Honours degrees. Information on courses and entry requirements can be found on the UCAS website. Finance for higher education is through the Students Loan Company. Students with a disability may be entitled to the Disabled Students Allowance. 

Access to Work
Access to Work offers support for individuals and employers. It is a fund provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, for help at work that isn’t covered by an employer making reasonable adjustments. The support offered is based on a person’s needs. 

An Access to Work grant can pay for:
  • special equipment, adaptations, or support worker services to help do things such as answer the phone or go to a meeting
  • help getting to and from work 
The money doesn’t have to be paid back and won’t affect other benefits.

For more information on Access to Work and apprenticeships, please click here. 

For more information about the pathways into employment, please click here for the Preparing for Adulthood website.
Young people should be prepared for as independent a life as possible from an early age. This involves the family and all services that might be involved with a child or young person with additional needs working closely together and drawing up plans.

Young people should be prepared for as independent a life as possible from an early age. This involves the family and all services that might be involved with a child or young person with additional needs working closely together and drawing up plans.

Where a young person has an EHCP, it is likely that they will need more tailored post-16 pathways. For a young person with special educational needs, it is really important that information is shared between schools and the chosen post 16 provider, whether this is a College or a training provider. Finding the right option for a young person is crucial, and decisions are best made based on the needs and aspirations of the young person. The success of the chosen option will depend on this.

Additional support may have been provided at times of transition into new schools through the young persons life, and this needs to continue as the post 16 options are considered and chosen. All professionals working with him or her should share high aspirations, and have a good understanding of what support has been effective so far in helping them to achieve their ambitions.

Schools can pass on tips and information about how best to support learning, and this will be helpful, in addition to copies of SEN Support Plans or the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Transition visits are key to success. The new setting may be very different to the young persons school, and this can be daunting. Reassuring them about the environment they are going to and allowing them to meet new staff a number of times will help significantly.
This booklet is for young people, their families and carers who may need a little bit of extra help getting ready for becoming an adult. It is about helping young people plan for the future.

Click here to read the Growing up in Northumberland booklet.
This section lists a sample of places that you can visit for volunteering opportunities in and around Northumberland.

Northumberland CVA
Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE)
VODA (North Tyneside Volunteer Centre) (national volunteering search site)
Many parents know less about being online than their children. It can therefore feel difficult to make sure that your child or young adult is being safe in the online environment they spend so much time in. We've listed websites below that offer a range of advice on keeping safe online.

Here you can find some useful links to e-safety advice.


If you are a young person yourself, have a look at these top tips for using the internet safely, responsibly and positively with Childnet. Further information from Childnet for parents and carers can also be found here.

Northumberland Youth Service

Northumberland County Council Youth Service have information for staying safe online that can be found here. The resources are made up of a poster and wallet card, both can be downloaded.

Internet Matters

If you are a parent or carer looking for help to keep your children safe online, there's a wide range of topics covered with Internet Matters.


The NSPCC has teamed up with O2 to help answer your online safety questions through a service called Net-Aware. Whether you want to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks, experts are here to help. Just phone 0808 8005002.

Keeping Children Safe online

Keeping Children Safe Online website provides a safe fun educational website that is interactive and teaches young children about Internet safety while they explore.

Get Safe Online

Get Safe Online is a public / private sector partnership supported by HM Government and is the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.