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Transitions - moving from one educational setting to another, or moving on from school to university or employment - are a challenging time for any child but can be especially difficult for children and young people with additional needs.

Managing this change well is important and can make a huge difference to how well your child or young person settles in their new environment.

We have worked with parents of children and young people with SEND to produce this page full of tips and advice to help you support your child to move on to the next stage.

For children in the Early Years (0-5)

    Starting nursery or school for the first time is an exciting milestone for your child but it can be a worrying time not just for children, but for parents too, and especially if this is the first time you will be leaving your child in the care of others. You may be worried about how they will cope, how they will fit in, and whether staff will understand their needs.  It is normal to have these concerns, but there are things you can do to help you and your child feel more positive about the change...
  • Do some research on the potential schools. You can find more info on this on our Choosing a School page
  • Talk to the SENCo or Inclusion Manager of your child's nursery/ school and agree a transition timetable with them. 
  • Take your child to visit the new school or nursery as many times as possible: introduce them to staff, let them see the classroom and where they will be eg. eating, sitting, or playing
  • If your child is being supported by a member of the EY SEND team, they will be able to help you with a transition plan. Contact your Early Years worker in plenty of time (around Easter if you child is starting in September) so that you have plenty of time to prepare.
  • Use lots of visuals when you're talking about the new setting including maps, photos and timetables, school rules
  • Keep talking to your child about new routines.  You can use 'social stories' or a story book to do this. Or you could make your own scrapbook using photos, maps, pictures, timetables 
  • Try creating an 'All About Me' page, for or with your child, to collect important information about them to pass on to their new setting.
  • Consider arranging a playdate with one of their new classmates if possible. Having friends and getting to know their classmates before they start will increase their confidence.
  • If your child has an EHCP, the first person to talk to is their SEN Officer. They will need regular reviews as the needs of children at this age can change quickly.  Through the EHCP review process, you can also get support with transition and with naming a school.  You can find out more about EHCP reviews here.
  • The Herts for Learning 'Supporting Smoother Transitions' project has a wealth of advice and practical activities to support transition, including a transition toolkit for families and for schools. 
  • You will find other resources online, like the ones below:

Moving up a year, moving to Secondary School, or changing schools

  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your child for this important transition. Start thinking about it early and visit potential settings (with and without your child). You can find more advice about this on our choosing a school page.
  • Talk to your SENCo and ask questions about how the transition will be managed (a 'transition plan').
  • Once you have decided on a school, visit the school as many times as possible.  Most secondary schools will have transition days but don't be afraid to ask for more visits if you feel it will be beneficial. Some secondary schools offer holiday camps in the school holidays to help children familiarise themselves with the school before it starts in September.
  • Keep all the information about your child in one place. Perhaps you could make a one-page profile for them?  You will be able to hand this over to the new contact person or SENCo.
  •  Think about the journey your child will make to school - practice the journey, and make sure transport arrangements are in place if necessary.  If your child will be walking to school independently, it might be a good idea for your child to walk to school by themselves for the last term of primary school to get used to it.
  • Keep talking to your child about the new school and the change of routine.  Try not to project your own anxieties about the change and remember to talk positively and mention the new opportunities it will bring. 
  • If your child has an EHCP you will need to start thinking about transition in year 5.  Their annual review should take place no later than the autumn term in year 6 so that all changes to the EHCP can be completed by the February before they start their new school.
  • There are many helpful resources online like the ones below: 

Moving on from school to college, university or employment

Moving on from school to college, university or employment can be an exciting time, but can also feel overwhelming. To help your young person make this transition as smoothly as possible, there are things you can do to help your young person prepare. Our Preparing for Adulthood webpages should have all the advice and information you need to help them successfully move on to the next phase of their life, including advice and information on these topics:

  • Further Education
  • Employment and Training
  • Independent Living (including info on housing options, money and legal decisions).
  • Physical and mental health
  • Friends and Community 

The Services for Young People Learning Difficulties and Disabilities team are dedicated to providing additional support to your people with LDD to help them move into work, an apprenticeship or learning.  You can find out more about the team on the SfYP LDD team website

There are many other useful resources online including:

 

Top tips for parents

We have worked closely with the parents from our SEND Online Feedback Group to create these top tips for transition based on the real experiences they have had with their own children or young people with SEND.

  • Start early! Visit lots of settings to determine which is the best fit for your child
  • Prepare - keep the important information on your child in one place - perhaps make a one-page profile of them - which you can pass on to the new setting
  • Visit the new setting as many times as possible and show your child or young person the areas where they will be spending time - the classroom, where they will eat, the playground, the inclusion area etc
  • Find out who your contact person will be at the new setting (usually the SENCo) and start to build positive relations
  • Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and voice any concerns or worries you may have
  • Keep talking to your child about the change, but be careful not to project your own anxiety about it
  • Listen to them and their worries
  • When talking about the new setting, use lots of visuals (maps, photos, timetables). These can help some children feel less anxious about the change
  • Stay calm - this will help them to stay calm

 



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