Your top questions about post 16 education in England answered

7 mins read

Thursday 20 July 2023

Tags: Post 16 education in England

Thanks to everyone who attended our recent Facebook Q&A session about post-16 education in England for your disabled child.

There’s certainly a lot to think about when your disabled child turns 16 – from the next education setting they will attend and the SEN support they may need, down to the new legal rights they will have as young people.

To help, we’ve rounded up the top 5 questions that parent carers asked our SEN advisers during a Q&A session earlier this month in Contact’s private Facebook Group.

And remember, we have lots more information and advice about your child’s post 16 education rights and options on our website, as well as about SEN support for young people aged 19-25. 

Q. My son finishes SEN school aged 19 next summer. We’ve been told there isn’t a place at the local colleges for a variety of reasons such as they don’t have space for the physical equipment, or lack of suitably qualified staff, or there is no suitable course for him. We would love him to continue his education as he is still learning. He has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. What are our next steps? Does the local authority have to find a suitable solution/place for him?

A. As your son would like to remain in education and still requires special educational provision, the local authority (LA) have a duty to find a suitable setting or make a suitable arrangement for your son. As he will not be moving until next summer, there is enough time for your LA to formally start the process of reviewing and amending the plan. The LA also have a duty to consult the settings that you would like them to consider for your son. Consultation involves sending these settings a copy of the EHC plan and reports. The settings must then respond with their opinion about whether they have space or a suitable course.

Take a look at our information about naming a school in an EHC plan and in which circumstances the LA might refuse naming the school you want. Ensure the EHC plan is reviewed early next academic year if it has not been reviewed recently. Our website has more information on the annual review process or how to ask for changes outside the annual review.

Q. Is there any financial support out there for trying to do A levels from home? Are there any other study groups or organisations from home schooled 16 plus?

A. If a young person has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and it is evident that they cannot physically attend a post-16 setting, it is possible for the local authority to fund education at home. However, if the young person does not have an EHC plan, it is unfortunately unlikely that the local authority will provide any financial support.

There may be a grant-giving organisations that can give you financial support. We have an education grants list with detailed information about different charities that provide educational grants to families. It may also be worth using the Turn2Us Grants search tool on our website onto check if there are other organisations can help you but that haven’t been included in our education grants list.

For further information on home education, we would suggest contacting Education Otherwise. As well as offering home education resources, they also run regional Facebook communities where you can meet other home-educating parents and find groups in your local area that meet regularly in person.

Q. I really need support to get a college Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan right. The LA have failed him previously and he’s behind and I only have a couple of days left of my 15 day review of the draft. Can I get some help? The plan is so woolly.

A. You could ask your local authority (LA) for an extension as you are still seeking specialist advice in order to make an informed response. Many LAs are happy to give another week or so.

To help you check the plan, have a look at our information specifically on checking the draft plan which goes through each section in turn. There is also some useful information from the Council for Disabled Children on examples of good practice in EHC plans.

Finally, although we don’t have enough capacity to look at documents, if you call our education helpline on 0808 808 3555 we would be happy to talk through the principles of what should be in the EHC plan. The helpline is open Mon – Fri from 9.30am to 5pm (with a later start on Tuesdays from 10.15am).

Q. We had a meeting with the college about the support they can put in place for my son who explained really well in his own words, that because of autism, adhd and dyslexia, he can’t remember things, even short term and he was told he would have to learn how to remember! I know if the first couple of months don’t go well he will leave education and I will never get him back in and he is not capable of a job at this point in his development, how do we get the college to fully understand his needs and support him correctly?

A. I am so sorry to hear that he was told to learn to remember – this could be considered discrimination. If you have not been already, ensure that you and your son are speaking to the learning support team in the college. Further education colleges have a legal duty to use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision that a young person needs. They must fulfil this duty for all students with SEN, even if they don’t have an EHC plan. There should also be a named person in overall charge of SEN provision at college, similar to a school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO). Take a look at our information about SEN support in post-16 settings.

Colleges also have a duty to not discriminate against disabled young people, and they must make reasonable adjustments to prevent them being placed at a substantial disadvantage.

I suggest emailing the learning support team in the college to remind them of these duties. If you’d like, feel free to call our helpline on 0808 808 3555 to speak to an education adviser about this beforehand.

Q. Do (young disabled people) have to go to day centres when they turn 19 or should the Education Health and Care (EHC) plan still apply even with severe Learning Difficulties? My Local Authority (LA) are suggesting day centres.

A. The EHC plan must continue as long as the young person still has special educational needs, stays in some kind of education or training, and it is still necessary for the LA to arrange the extra support that they need in order to achieve the educational outcomes set out in their EHC plan. Some special schools have developed separate further education provision for 19-25 year-olds.

It may be worth asking the LA to put their view in writing with reasons as to why they are suggesting day centres.