The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Gareth D Morewood

Making transition reviews count

When exploring post-16 pathways, transition reviews are indispensable. Help your Year 11s keep their options open.

I have written previously about how important NEETs are as a measure of inclusion. As we near the end of the implementation phase of the 2014 SEND reforms, never has supporting students through new GCSE examinations and into post-16 provision been more important.

Preparation for adulthood

Preparation for adulthood is a phrase I like, as it actually describes what is really important for the young people and families with whom we work. There’s a lot of misinformation around jobs and employment, but the key facts are that disabled young people are disadvantaged in 21st-century Britain.

This week I have been chairing Year 11 transition reviews, all attended by representatives from local post-16 providers. The preparation for post-16 pathways doesn’t start and finish with this meeting; in fact, this meeting is merely a mid-way point in a process that started in Year 9. But at this stage, a clear focus on which colleges/providers/courses to apply for is important.

Keeping options open

What is really important is for young people to apply for a range of different providers and courses – keeping their options open. I’m concerned by the narrowing of the post-16 curriculum; in essence learners need to show academic progress each year. This means that a young person cannot do a Level 1 course in, say, horticulture, then in the second year an equivalent Level 1 course in animal care.

There needs to be demonstration of ‘academic progress’ – i.e. from Level 1 study to Level 2. It is therefore sometimes better to start at a lower level and allow for progress, especially if the new learning environment of college is much more different to that of a school.

These decisions are made after results day in August. However, it is important to have options. That is why applications now should reflect a range of possibilities.

It is no good having a great EHCP if there are no appropriate options for post-16 education, employment or training available.

Reviewing in Year 11

I always enjoy Year 11 reviews. I have known most families since Year 5 and some of the progress the young people have made from those initial starting points has been significant. Focusing on academic outcomes is important, especially when mock exams are imminent. But so too are pathways into post-16 provision.

This year representatives from all the local providers attended these reviews, their first-hand knowledge of the courses and learning environments proving invaluable.

Also, it is important to review the EHCP in light of what support in those different educational settings will look like. What works for a young person who has been in a familiar setting for five years often needs amending for transition and the different learning environment.

What might a post-16 pathway look like?

In one of the reviews we held, we discussed a specific course that comprised of national qualifications to help students with learning difficulties develop their independent life skills and prepare for work. Participants can also develop their social and personal skills in a discreet and supportive environment, while also being part of the wider college community.

These courses are set up for two years, however depending upon the level of the student at entry and their individual needs, there is a possibility to progress through the qualifications and remain at college for a maximum of three years. There is also some opportunity for some students to attend on a part time basis if needed.

This flexible approach, with a main focus on life skills and preparation for work, can incorporate bespoke work placements with a dedicated ‘job coach’. This was a really great example of what can still be; daily battles for provision paled into the background as we discussed the possibilities and the young person and his family were so positive. 

Top tips for Year 11 reviews

  • Schedule the meetings as far in advance as possible to give everyone notice.
  • Ensure colleges and employment/training providers are present in some capacity. Often one college can provide a suitable overview for a few different ones, if others can’t make it.
  • Make sure the academic data you use to aid discussions is up to date.
  • Be clear on how students can apply to courses, and when the deadlines are.
  • Get contacts with key college staff for transition visits during the summer term.
  • Consider transport/travel training to support gaining increased independence.

More from Optimus

SEND: the N is not for NEET

Preparing young people for the road ahead


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