Transition in education

When a child or young person with a special educational need or disability (SEND) approaches a change in their educational setting, or a new phase in their education, they may experience a range of emotions including excitement, anticipation and anxiety. This can affect both the child or young person and their parents/carers. This move or phase change in education is commonly called 'transition'. It is important to help prepare the child or young person for this, to ensure that the experience is as positive as it can be and the transition is successful.

There are many transitions that take place including moving from:

  • Home to setting (such as childminder, pre-school, nursery or school)
  • Class to class
  • Early years to infant or primary school
  • Infant to junior school
  • Junior or primary school to secondary school
  • Secondary to post-16 settings
  • Post-16 to higher education and adult life
  • One region to another
  • One year group to another

Person-centred planning

The child or young person is the most important person to be prepared for transition. This is called 'person-centred planning'. But it is also very important that their parents/carers are involved too.

There are several tools which parents/carers can use with their child or young person to help them gather and collect information which will be useful for transition planning:

Support at every stage of transition

Good transition planning is important for all children and young people. But children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) will require additional planning and preparation. Transition planning should start early to ensure it is successful.

All educational settings must adhere to the Equality Act 2010 which means that they have to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so as not to place disabled learners at a disadvantage. Settings should anticipate needs and make any reasonable adjustments in advance.

People from the current and new setting should talk and work together to plan for a positive and successful transition for all children and young people.

The Virtual School for SEND recommend settings use the Norwich Opportunity Area Common Transfer Form to ensure the consistent transfer of pupil information.

Additional support for children and young people with SEND could include:

  • Organising extra visits for CYP with SEND to give them more time to get used to the setting and people
  • Taking photos of the new setting and looking at them with the CYP to keep the new setting fresh and familiar in their mind
  • Introducing prompt cards or checklists to help them remember what to do/where to go
  • Using social stories to help prepare the CYP for change
  • Using a ‘My new school’ booklet or transition pack to introduce key changes and give information about the new setting
  • Giving out a clear map of the site and/or timetables
  • Identifying a ‘go to’ person for CYP and families to contact
  • Working with health professionals to adapt the learning environment and ensure accessibility
  • Organising specialist training for staff
  • Providing specialist equipment or resources to facilitate access to learning
  • Completing a ‘my usual week looks like this’ timetable with CYP and their parents/carers to provide additional background information to pass on to the new setting

Support when leaving school to go to college or work

Leaving school to go to college or work is a really big step. It needs lots of planning, which normally starts when the young person is 13-years-old.

The preparing for adult life (PfAL) section of our website has information for parent carers to help their young person:

  • Think about the things they want to do
  • Plan for their future

The most important person to be involved in planning ahead is the young person. They should be supported to make choices and be in control of preparing for adult life.

Who can help?

Parent carers can help their young person think about all the people who could be involved. They could be teachers, transition or guidance advisers or a social worker (if they have one). The young person could ask these people to join a circle of support.

If specialist help and support is needed to plan for the young person, it may be appropriate to make a referral for the preparing for adult life (PfAL) service.

Download the transition resources linked to on this page for even more information and ideas that will help support good transition planning.