Moving from one school to the next can be challenging for any child. For children with special needs or disabilities, transitions require extra planning and support.
Transition refers to the process of moving between different stages of education or care services.
The SEND Code of Practice 2015 emphasises key elements involved in good transitions, and these are relevant for all children and young people:
- Working with parents around transition planning
- Reviewing the support being provided in the current setting or school
- Good information sharing between the current and receiving setting or school
- Joint planning to undertake a supported transition
Types of transition
Early Years to Primary School Transition
This transition is about moving from nursery/preschool settings to primary school at age 4-5. This involves selecting the right school, visiting options, meeting the new school team, and planning required supports.
Primary to Secondary School Transition
This transition is about moving from primary to secondary school at age 11. Similar preparation is required in terms of choosing the right setting, arranging visits, communicating needs, etc.
Child to Adult Services Transition
This transition is about the process of moving from receiving child-based services and support to adult-based provisions. This typically occurs around age 18 in the UK.
It involves transition planning and application to ensure continuous care and assistance for individuals with disabilities or special needs as they enter adulthood. Areas impacted may include:
- Healthcare - Moving from paediatric to adult community or specialist health services
- Education - Transitioning from school to further education colleges, training programs, workplace support etc.
- Social Services - Moving from children to adult social care provision for needs like respite, housing, daily living support
- Financial Support - Applying for adult disability benefits
Transitions Between Schools
This transition is about changing schools at any stage due to relocation, being offered a specialist placement, or other reasons. This also demands coordination and sharing of information.
Transition from Home to Nursery/Preschool
This transition is about a child's first move into an early year's care and education setting. This can be emotionally challenging so preparation is key.
The transition process for children with special needs often requires more time and support to ensure it is smooth and positive.
Plymouth Enhanced Transition Framework
In Plymouth, we have worked with schools to produce a framework to support children who are making the transition from early years right through to secondary school, it is called the Plymouth Enhanced Transitions Framework.
Frequently asked questions
How can I prepare my child with autism to start primary school?
Schedule plenty of visits and introduce your child to school staff ahead of time for familiarity. Use social stories to preview school routines. Practice aspects like wearing a uniform. Send in your child's typical snack/lunch to assess noise/texture issues. Share effective calming strategies with teachers. Request adjustments like a quiet transition space.
What should I prioritise when researching potential new towns or areas to relocate to?
If moving with your special needs child, research what services, accessibility, activities and support are available locally. Look into health providers, nurseries/schools with strong SEN support, disability sports clubs, parent support groups and general accessibility of the area. Visit potential neighbourhoods.
How can I arrange introductions before my child starts at a new school?
Schedule meetings between your child, new teachers and support staff ahead of time. Set up play sessions at the school over the summer for familiarity. Share your child's needs and effective strategies used currently so staff can prepare. Request they be paired with a buddy pupil.
What documents should I share with my child's new school?
Provide complete records like EHCPs, medical/therapy history, assessment reports and school reports outlining effective support strategies. Sign consent forms enabling information transfer.
Why should I start planning young adulthood transitions early?
Begin discussing goals with your teen by 14 and research post-school options to allow time to apply, arrange visits and implement transition planning. Consider abilities, interests and support needs when weighing college, apprenticeships, and training programs. Plan any skills development or new travel training required.
How can I reassure my child about changing schools?
Emphasise potential new friends and activities. Involve them in choosing the new school after taster sessions. Reinforce it's the same - learning, playing, making friends - just in a different building. Share excitement about their new adventure. Reassure them teachers will be kind and helpful.
What should I consider when choosing my child's secondary school?
Along with mainstream and special schools, consider learning environment, size, SEN experience, staff training, accessibility and facilities. Arrange visits to experience schools under consideration. Have open discussions with staff about your child's needs and optimal support strategies.
How can I prepare my child for post-16 college?
Discuss interests and skills to match course choices to their strengths. Tour colleges together and meet disability support teams. Plan travel training if needed. Work with school advisors on pathway fit. If accepted, arrange short familiarity visits during the summer before enrolment.
Why are school staff introductions useful before starting?
Meeting teachers, the SENCO, potential classroom assistants etc. ahead of time allows your child to put names to faces. Staff also gain insights from discussing needs and successful support strategies directly. Rapport builds foundations.
Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:
- Early years (0 to 5 years old)
- Primary (5 to 11 years old)
- Secondary (11 to 18 years old)
- Preparing for adulthood
Is the information correct?
Let us know if the information on this page is wrong and needs to be updated.