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A guide to preparation for adulthood and progression to post 16 education and training

Preparation for Adulthood

This guide was co-produced by representatives of local schools and colleges, social workers, careers advisors, SEND Key workers and commissioners.  A PDF copy is available to download here.


Employment, Independent Living, Community Inclusion, Health

What is an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

An EHCP is for children and young people (aged up to 25 years old) who have special educational needs and/or a disability, and who need a much higher level of resource than education settings can deliver on their own. In most cases, children and young people with special educational needs will be able to access the services they require through the Local Offer, and an EHCP will not be needed. Likewise, an EHCP will not be needed if a young person is studying for a higher education qualification, as funding is provided via a different route if required.

What does a good EHCP look like?

  • Meets the requirements of the Act, Regulations and the Code.
  • Describes positively what children and young people can do
  • Clear, concise, understandable and accessible
  • Is co-produced
  • Sets good, relevant outcomes
  • Tells the child or young person’s story well and coherently
  • Prepares children and young people for independence

The difference between Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Children and young people who have special educational needs (SEN) do not necessarily have a disability, and some disabled young people do not have special educational needs. There is however a lot of overlap between the two groups.

What is preparation for adulthood

Preparation for adulthood focuses on the four life domains that are widely used to think about planning for an adult life in the community.

  • Employment,
  • Independent Living,
  • Community Inclusion &
  • Health

In working with young people these four areas should be at the forefront of all that we do.  They enable us to remember that children and young people with SEND have the same aspirations, needs and rights as all young people.  They help us to find out what a young person’s aspirations are and what is important to them now and in the future.  They help us to support children and young people and their families to plan for life outcomes.

In focusing on these areas, we should be seeking for young people to aspire, personalising our approach, developing a shared vision, improving post 16 options and support, planning services together.

The four areas can be used as steps towards outcomes to help achieve a realistic aspiration.  The DfE published a useful tool which can be used to support discussions and planning throughout a young person’s journey.  This outcomes tool can be found here.

Various people involved in a young person’s life can be supportive in exploring opportunities to develop skills to achieve outcomes in these four preparing for adulthood areas such as:

  • Employment – Parents, School and College Staff, Careers Advisors, Job Coaches
  • Independent Living – Parents, School and College Staff, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, PA’s
  • Community Inclusion – Parents, School and College Staff, Social Workers, Club organisers, PA’s
  • Health – Parents, School and College staff, School nurses, GP’s, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, paediatricians

Preparing for Adulthood Principles

Young people, their families and carers, and those supporting them all say similar things about what they want when thinking about the future and moving into adulthood:

  • Independence and somewhere to live.
  • Work and doing things that interest and satisfy you.
  • Good health and well-being.
  • Having friends and being part of your community.

In Staffordshire County Council's Preparation for Adulthood Protocol for children and young people up to the age of 25 who will or may need social care support as adults we describe how we will work together to achieve this for each young person in a coordinated, efficient and smooth way, following the principles below: -

  1. Preparing for and moving into adulthood should be a positive process that assists in young people achieving their full potential;
  2. It can also be challenging and a bit scary for all as young people develop independence and try new things, but this should not let us limit thinking and opportunities for young people as it is part of growing up;
  3. In Staffordshire we will work as one Council and one system to provide a consistent preparing for adulthood experience for young people, their families and carers;
  4. It will reflect the voice of the child, young person and, where appropriate, families/carers, so that we can develop their confidence and ability to articulate their wishes; ‘Nothing about me without me’;
  5. Our offer will be clear and easily understood, using plain English, where this is their first language;
  6. Our offer will build upon a strengths-based approach based on an assumption of independence;
  7. We will promote realistic but aspirational expectations for our young people to deliver better outcomes, supporting positive risk taking in Adults where appropriate, while keeping young people safe and healthy;
  8. Everything that we do will be in a timely manner;
  9. Our system will support us to more effectively manage our demand by avoiding any unnecessary work or duplication;
  10. While supporting young people we will make informed decisions that balance the cost now versus lifetime costs;
  11. We should make the best use of the resources that we have;
  12. Decisions will be evidence based with appropriate checks in place to ensure that we can demonstrate their effectiveness;
  13. Through detailed individual conversations we will assist in setting realistic yet aspirational expectations that meet individual outcomes and statutory obligations.

Preparing for adulthood pathway – journey from birth to 25 years

Developing Preparation for Adulthood Outcomes

Golden Thread

‘Outcomes underpin and inform the detail of Education Health and Care Plans. Outcomes will usually set out what needs to be achieved by the end of a phase or stage of education in order to enable the child or young person to progress successfully to the next phase or stage.’(Code of Practice, 9.68)

From Year 9 onwards, all EHCP annual reviews should have a focus on Preparation for Adulthood.  Young people should be encouraged throughout the year to work to develop their skills to support them in preparing for adulthood and outcomes included in the EHCP should reflect the skills needed to achieve their aims and aspirations. 

Writing a good outcome can be difficult, please find below some useful resources to support in developing outcomes.

  • ‘An outcome is the benefit or difference made to an individual as a result of an intervention’ SEND Code of Practice p 9.66
  • We need to ask what achieving an outcome would do for the young person; what would it give them or make possible for them?
  • We should all be using person-centred approaches which put children, young people and their families at the centre, acknowledging that everyone has the right to exercise their choice and control in directing their lives and support they may receive.

Outcomes in an Education Health and Care Plan should focus on achieving improvements to a young person’s learning and development.  Outcomes should link directly to achieving a benefit or difference to the barriers or needs that have been described in Sections B. Outcomes should enable children and young people to move towards the longer-term aspirations of employment, higher education, independent living and community participation. Outcomes should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. Personalized to the individual need of the young person, they should be focused on aspiration and where possible be supporting them to be as independence in life as possible. We want our outcomes to raise aspirations and expectations whilst also encouraging our young people to thinks about the future and what this may look like for them.

Using the Outcome sandwich will enable outcomes to be SMART

Delivering outcomes in EHCP’s

Useful suggestions of example PFA outcomes:

  • Master outcomes - preparation for adulthood outcome bank
  • Suggested outcomes for learners on a supported internship

Remember the Golden Thread

There should be a golden thread directly from the aspirations in the one-page profile through to the provision - this is achieved by thinking about outcomes as steps on the journey towards the aspirations.

  • Aspirations
  • Needs
  • Outcomes
  • Provision

Transition to Post-16 Education and Training Pathway




Should include


Identify opportunities to discuss preparation  for adulthood with young people and as appropriate parents


Year 8 onwards

Education providers incorporate transition planning into annual scheme of work 

Have discussions with young people about their aspirations for the future

Signposting to post 16 education options

Signposting/engaging other professionals

 Via activities associated with Gatsby benchmarks


Local Offer for young people

Good Career Guidance

The SEND Gatsby Benchmark Toolkit

Plan dates for Preparation for Adulthood Annual Reviews

Year 9 onwards

Identify young people’s support network 

Investigate co-ordinating with other professional reviews such as PEP’s

Invite all to Annual Review

Timing is key - in a transition year Annual Review should take place in the Autumn Term

Invite those likely to be involved following transition year – new provider, social worker, health professionals

Annual review guidance - information linked to SEND Code of Practice

Education Health and Care Plan and Annual Review Quality Standards & Process Mapping | Staffordshire Connects 

Preparing for adulthood pathway – journey from birth to 25 years. | Staffordshire Connects

Consider quality standards prior to PFA annual reviews


Year 9 onwards

Year 9 onwards

 Year 9 onwards

Year 9 onwards

Year 9 onwards

Year 9 onwards

Year 9 - 14


Year 11 onwards





Y13 onwards

Enable time for young people to consider their views, plans for the future

Provide impartial Careers Advice – careers action plan as evidence

Work with young people to prepare or update their vocational profile

 Collate evidence of progression/achievements

 Seek input/reports from other professionals (via SEND Hub)

Consider young person’s capacity for decision making

Consider with young person any new EHCP outcomes to support progress to their aspirations

Consider what components needed in a study programme to best prepare for adult life 

For those leaving education, consider info about support for employment, any steps to help engage with services following education

Education Health and Care Plan and Annual Review Quality Standards & Process Mapping | Staffordshire Connects

Preparing for adulthood -vocational profile

Preparing for Adulthood - Decision Making Profile

Making decisions - an easyread guide

Mental Capacity Act video

Parents Guide My Adult, Still My Child - Guide for parents and carers of adults 16+ who may not be able to make decisions Guidance - 16 to 19 study programmes: guide for providers

  1. substantial qualifications that stretch students and prepare them for education at the next level or for employment
  2. English and maths where students have not yet achieved a GCSE grade 4
  3. work experience to give students the opportunity to develop their career choices and to apply their skills in real working conditions
  4. other non-qualification activity to develop students’ character, broader skills, attitudes and confidence, and to support progression

Jobs for all ages

Completion of Preparation for Adulthood Annual Review





Y9 onwards

Y9 onwards

Y9 onwards

Y9 – Y14


Y11 onwards

Y9 onwards 

Y9 onwards


Utilise all information gained through PFA associated activity

Ensure that young person’s aspirations for adulthood are updated

Ensure PFA section discussed and completed fully

Discuss and make clear in notes any changes recommended to outcomes to enable progress to aspiration

Indicate elements of study programme that would be most help to achieve outcomes – from next year’s education provider

Attach educational achievements (supports new providers)

Ensure relevant referrals are made

PFA Annual Review key topics to cover at annual reviews from year 9

PFA outcomes across the age ranges

Developing outcomes in EHC Plans(

Top tips on Page 8 - EHCP Exemplar Guide 2017.pdf (

Continue with transition to new provider preparation


Organise transition visits

Share care plans, support plans, risk assessments with new providers (upload to hub?)



Further Preparation for Adulthood Resources and Documents



Independent Living

Community Inclusion


Legislation and Statutory Guidance

  • Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014
  • Part 1 of the Care Act 2014
  • The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014
  • SEND Code of Practice 0-25 years 2014