Preparing for Adulthood Update
For all young people on the cusp of transitioning to their life as an adult the start of a new academic year will bring with it mixed emotions of excitement and trepidation. For those with a special educational need (SEN) it is likely that the change from a familiar school environment to college or training provider will bring additional pressures and heightened anxiety as they prepare for their life as an adult. Many will not only be adjusting to a change in educational placement but will also be considering what additional support they may require so that they can successfully develop their skills to enable them to live as independently as possible, access the their local community and maintain good health so that they are ready and prepared to leave college and possibly home to set out on their journey as an adult.
This year the ongoing impact of Covid 19 has made this transition from school to college or from college to employment, training or higher education even more uncertain than usual. However, feedback from schools and colleges has been very positive and attendance levels in Shropshire are above those that are recorded nationally. Schools and colleges have developed robust risk assessments and have put in place necessary precautions to promote the safety of students and staff and minimise the risk of spreading the virus. Restrictions as a result of Covid are likely to be with us for some time to come and will require schools, colleges and other services to adapt their approach and amend their offer to enable easier access as we face the reality of ongoing social distancing, shielding and self-isolation; all previously unfamiliar terms that have become part of our everyday vocabulary. In Shropshire we are fortunate that our schools and colleges have acted quickly to adapt. During the lockdown period alternative arrangements were put in place to support continued access to learning as well as to facilitate transition; this has included virtual tours, meetings, lessons and inductions. During the lockdown period, the local authority SEN Team requested that annual reviews of the EHCP were held using online meeting platforms such as Teams or Zoom. This proved very popular and enabled more people to contribute to the review. We are therefore asking schools and colleges to continue to offer the option of an online meeting so that those people who are not able to attend a face to face meeting can still join in. If you want to find out more about using Microsoft Teams or Zoom to arrange your annual review please contact your college or the SEN Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Autumn term is generally regarded as a time to start to plan for the next phase in your or your child’s education; colleges and training providers would normally be hosting events such as open days and information evenings. This year these are likely to take a different format to previous years. Please contact the settings that you are interested in visiting to check what arrangements have been made and to request an appointment with a member of staff so that you can discuss your options and any special requirements with them and share any concerns that you may have.
Health and care providers are also adapting their offers in response to Covid and are busy securing new approaches that will provide flexibility whilst taking account of necessary precautions to ensure the ongoing safety of those accessing services. Whilst some care services have not yet been able to safely re-open many are stepping forward with new ideas to develop their provision and are working creatively to meet young people’s need for ongoing care and/or support young people to learn new skills to increase independence and build and maintain friendships. Likewise, health services are developing and implementing on-line and remote methods of assessment and treatment. The impact of these changes will be closely monitored to ensure that, as far as possible, the quality of the services is not compromised. We will therefore be seeking your feedback over the next few months. If you would like to share your experiences about transition or your views about the services available or ideas about how we can improve what is on offer please email the local offer at email@example.com
As we find out about any specific events or receive information about how services that support young people with SEND are being delivered across education, health and care we will ensure that this is shared through the local offer news and social media.
Whilst we can’t know how long restrictions will last, but we are working hard with our colleagues to support young people’s transition and next steps ready for their onward move. We will make maximum use of technology for virtual tours of services and venues, we will use video calls where we cannot safely meet in person, and we will continue to listen to young people and families in Shropshire, working together to deliver successful steps towards adult life.
Julia Dean, SEND Service Manager, The SEN Team