Background to Preparing for Adulthood (PfA)

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In September 2014 a new law called the 'Children and Families Act' came into force. This has brought about some changes in the way children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) are supported in education. 

This law gave new rights to young people who are over 16 and no longer of compulsory school age. Young people can make decisions in their own right about the support they receive, including taking control of their own EHC plan, if they are able to. Young people with special educational needs (SEN) can be supported up until they are 25.  

Annual reviews are an opportunity for a young person to discuss what they would like to achieve as they grow up with: 

  • family 
  • school or college 
  • local authority 

The aim is for young people with SEN to be supported towards greater independence and employability. 

What does Preparing for Adulthood mean? 

Preparing for Adulthood means preparing for:

1. Higher education and/or employment

This includes exploring different employment options, such as support for becoming self-employed and help from supported employment agencies. 

2. Independent living

Independent living gives young people a choice, control and freedom over their lives and the support they have, their accommodation and living arrangements (including supported living). 

3. Participating in society

This includes having friends, supportive relationships, participating in and contributing to the local community.

4. Being healthy

Being as healthy as possible in adult life. 

The importance of Preparing for Adulthood

Being supported towards greater independence and employability can be life-transforming for young people with SEND. This support needs to start early and should centre on the young person's own aspirations, interests and needs. 

The SEND Code of Practice (2015) sets out the requirements of the Children and Families Act (2014).

There may be very good reasons to start planning for adulthood sooner than Year 9. All professionals working with young people should share high aspirations and have a good understanding of what support is effective in enabling them to achieve their ambitions.

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