The most common options for young people at this stage are:
Between the ages of 16 and 19, some young people choose to go on to further education, for example at a local college. They may choose to study an academic course or something more work-related, such as hospitality or computing. You can find a directory of colleges providing further education and training for students with learning disabilities on the Association of National Specialist Colleges website.
Some young people may decide they are ready to move away from home to continue their learning at a residential college. Some colleges also offer day placements. If your son or daughter is interested in this option, it is a good idea to start planning early, as securing a place and organising funding can be a lengthy process.
Mencap runs 3 residential colleges for young adults aged 16-25 with a learning disability. Each college aims to develop personal, social and practical skills to help their students live life as independently as possible.
The school helped my son to plan so that the move into sixth form did not come as such a big shock.
Day service facilities offer a range of supported activities in the local community. These usually include a mixture of work, leisure and educational skills, and should be available for anyone over 16 who needs support. Many day facilities will also offer evening and weekend activities.
To find out about day services in your area, you can get in touch with your local social services, or in England you can speak to your Connexions advisor about what is available. Specialist organisations, such as Mencap and Home Farm Trust (HFT), also offer day opportunities.
If your son or daughter is thinking of getting a job after they leave school, you may also want to think about helping them to organise some work experience, or a volunteer placement. This will help them to get an idea of what kind of work they would like to do, what they enjoy and what they find difficult, and what kind of support they may need in the workplace.
For more information, you can find out about Mencap's volunteering opportunities for people with a learning disability. You can also contact Skill, an organisation that specialises in access to education after the age of 16, training at work and employment.