A Case Study – Supporting Seamless Transitions From Secondary to Post 16 Education

Collaborating with young people and their parents/ carers to ensure seamless transitions from secondary to Post 16 education.

In November 2022, Emma Perridge (Highly Specialist Occupational Therapist and Post 16 Lead) and Ashlea Stephens (Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist and Post 16 Lead) attended a Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) strategy workshop for parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-25 in Sutton with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). It was hosted by colleagues from the London Borough of Sutton (LBS) and took place at the Civic Centre.

The workshop activity asked parents and carers the following questions when thinking about preparing for adulthood, and in their experience:

  1. What works well?
  2. What needs to be strengthened?
  3. How can LBS do things better?

Emma and Ashlea facilitated these discussions and were able to engage with parents on these topics.

As part of these discussions, a parent of a young person attending one of Sutton’s schools where therapies are provided in house, reached out with some concerns regarding her child’s transition to a mainstream college. Contact details were shared and the parent reached out to the therapists again in May 2023. A meeting took place where the young person’s mother was given the opportunity to talk about their experiences with therapy in school, and their hopes and fears for therapy in college.

Regarding their experiences in school, the parent shared:

“Therapy services have promoted independence, they have been excellent. I felt at one point it was a bit too much, and not giving her space to make those decisions [when] we all learn from making mistakes.”

When talking about their hopes for college, the parent shared:

“If it’s put into the curriculum so that its part of her learning, so it’s maybe discreet, so she doesn’t feel like she’s in therapy. She’s getting therapy but she doesn’t realise it.”

These aspirations are in line with the way Cognus Therapies work with young people to develop their independence and reflect best practice guidelines for working with young adults as outlined in the PfA agenda as well as the SEND Code of Practice – please refer to Chapter 8.

As young people move towards adulthood, best practice indicates a shift in focus from intensive packages of therapy working directly with the individual, to more focused work with communication partners and the environment. It was clear that this family were ready to embrace the transition from such intensive therapy provisions to more of a maintenance approach to therapy, this type of strengths-based intervention focuses on functional skills – that is, the skills young people need in daily life. This approach is more appropriate as young people progress through school to college, as it is more focused on preparation for adulthood and the life that the young person will lead. Evidence for this can be found in the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) ALD position paper.

Emma and Ashlea reached out to the SEND coordinators who oversee the NMI and also the college, to ensure that the young person’s needs and recommended therapy provision is reviewed ahead of her transition from school to college as the parent commented that it is important to engage her child from the beginning.

Working in collaborative ways like this, ensures that transitions from secondary school to college run smoothly even on occasions when the therapy is not delivered by Cognus.

Emma and Ashlea were asked to complete a therapy reassessment with this young person in June 2023. However, due to other commitments for the young person, this was delayed until early September 2023. Therapists completed the reassessment and reviewed therapy recommendations in the context of the young person’s new setting.

The parent gave the following feedback regarding the assessment session:

“We felt the therapists were adapting the session based on M’s responses and how she was presenting. They were brilliant in engaging M in the assessment process”.

Recommendations have now been made which will inform the young person’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and ensure that therapy is delivered in a way that is not only evidence based, but also preferred by both the young person and her parents – collaboration at its best!

If any local SEND teams would like to hear more about the Post 16 joint OT and SaLT assessment clinic, then please contact ashlea.stephens@cognus.org.uk or julie.kiely@cognus.org.uk to discuss.