Signposting - Moving to adult life - NNPCF - What the Children and Families Act says about transitions


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Section: Signposting

Subsection: Signposting - Moving to adult life

NNPCF - What the Children and Families Act says about transitions

The Children and Families Act 2014 - some key points of interest for parent/carers and young people with SEND

The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) has produced a useful guide on what the Children and Families Act says about Transitions for young people with SEND. It covers topics including:

  • The Role of Parent Carers when child reaches 16
  • Young People's rights at 16
  • Sources of additional information

To find out more, see the articles below.

The Role of Parent Carers when child reaches 16

As parent/carers we know that moving from children’s to adults’ services can be very difficult. One of the key parts of the Children & Families Act 2014 is how the new SEND system will improve life outcomes for young people from 14-25 years who have Special Education Needs (SEN) and to ensure this transition is seamless.

"Our vision for children and young people with special needs is the same as for all children and young people – that they achieve well in early years, at school and in college; lead happy and fulfilled lives; and have choice and control."
Department for Education

The Key Principles set out in the Children & Families Act are that:

  • Young people should be at the centre of planning for and making decisions about their future. Discussions should focus on what they want to achieve, and the support they will need to get there.
  • There is now a single system of support for children and young people with SEN form birth to 25. This means that no one should lose the right to extra support for their educational needs simply because they have reached 16 or left school. Further education colleges and settings now have similar duties to schools to support students with SEN. Young people who need more support may have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan until they are 25. Young people with existing statements and Learning Difficultly Assessments must be prioritised for transfer to the new system during 2014/15.
  • The law gives new rights to young people who are over 16 alongside an on-going role for parent carers. Young people can make decisions in their own right about the support they receive. This includes taking control of their own Education Health and Care (EHC) plan if they are able to.

The new Special Educational Needs & Disability Code of Practice: 0-25 years supports these principles. The code sets out what a local authority must do to enable young people to prepare for adult life. This includes:

  • Higher education and/or employment
  • Independent living
  • Friendships & Contributing to the local communities
  • Healthy Lives

The Act defines a young person as someone who has reached the end of compulsory school in the academic year they turn 16. This will be year 11 for most students. However, legally young people must remain in some kind of education or training until they are 18.

A young person who has a Learning Difficulties Assessment (LDA) will need to request an assessment for an EHC Plan during the transition period. Young people in further education with an LDA must transfer by 1 September 2016 according to the Transition to the new 0 to 25 special educational needs and disability guidance issued by the Department for Education.

A young person who has an EHC plan at school can continue to keep it if their needs have not changed. A young person or parent/carer will have the right to express a preference for a particular post 16 setting (School or FE College) to be named on the EHC plan.

Young People's rights at 16

All young people have the right to have their views taken into consideration about decisions that affect them. However, an important change is that when they reach 16 certain rights transfer from you, their parent/carer to the young person themselves.

A young person can:-

  • Ask for an EHC needs assessment
  • Make decisions about the support in their EHC plan
  • Ask for a personal budget
  • Appeal directly to tribunal about a decision relating to an EHC assessment or an EHC Plan.

It is assumed that young people have this right unless they lack the mental capacity to make specific decisions about their lives. Young people with disabilities and special educational needs should be treated as having the capacity to make their own decisions, even if they need support to do so.

What is the role of parent carers when their son or daughter reaches 16?
Many parents/carers are concerned about what this change will mean in practice and how the change in legal status affects parent/carers’ rights to be involved in decisions affecting their son or daughter. The changes to the law do not mean that parent/carers have no say. In practice many young people will want and need their parents’/carers’ support to make decisions, and many people will still need to make decisions on their behalf. It is about placing the views and aspirations of the young person at the centre of the process.

Section 19 of the Children and Families Act 2014 states that Local Authorities must pay particular attention to:

  • the views, wishes and feelings of children and their parents/carers, and young people;
  • the importance of them participating as fully as possible in decision-making and providing the information and support to enable them to do so; and
  • Supporting children and young people’s development and helping them to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.

The NNPCF welcomes young people being heard and their views being given higher significance. It is important for Local authorities and other agencies to recognise the need to work with the young person and their family to establish what support is needed.

Sources of additional information

For further information, you might be interested in looking at some of the following:-

Irwin Mitchell and their partners as part of the Independent Supporters programme have developed a series of factsheets about the reforms. There is a paper on Preparing for Adulthood. The factsheets can be found [here]

The national Preparing for Adulthood website is also an excellent source of information including a factsheet on the Mental Capacity Act.

1. Special educational needs and disability – A guide for Young People - [click here]

2. Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years - [click here]