Information and advice about leaving school and moving into adult life

Leaving school and moving into adult life can be an exciting and challenging time for young people and their parents, with lots of changes and choices to be made about the future.

If your son or daughter has a learning disability, making this transition can be even more complicated. You may be receiving support from a number of different agencies, including health, social care and education services, and these will all change as your child approaches adulthood. In addition, these changes may happen at different times and may not always join up.

To make sure your son or daughter has a positive experience of transition and receives the right support, you as a parent need to make sure that you have the right information and are well prepared for the process. 

To begin with we had no idea about the key stages in the transition process. They organised the odd work experience placement for him, and tried him on a course for a week, but there wasn't much else. However, by the end of the process I had become a bit of an expert!

These pages offer advice and information for parents and carers about the transition process – how to survive it and how to make sure you are able to make successful and positive plans for the future.  

Throughout you will find links to other useful organisations and websites, as well as advice and tips from parents who have already been through the transition process. There is also information on action you can take – look for the "what next?" sign for things you can do.

You can find a short explanation of important words and phrases in the key words section at the end of this guide. 

This information is also available to download as a PDF.

More information on this can also be found on the Leaving school page, where you can download the Leaving school factsheet.


What is transition?

The term ‘transition' is used to describe the process of moving from childhood into adult life.

Transition and special educational needs (SEN)

If your son or daughter has a statement of special educational needs (SEN) the school must carry out a formal transition process which will help you and your son or daughter to plan for the future.

Transition plans and reviews

If your son or daughter has a statement of SEN you will already be used to the annual review of their statement.

Who should attend the transition review?

It is crucial that you and your son or daughter attend the transition review with key members of school staff.

What should a transition plan cover?

The transition plan should clearly set out your son or daughter's ideas and hopes for the future and cover all aspects of life, not just which college or service they may be moving on to.

Ongoing transition reviews

Every year after the year 9 review you should be invited to attend a transition review meeting, where you can review the plan and continue to talk about your son or daughter's options.

Person-centred transition reviews

Person-centred transition reviews are a way of running transition review meetings that puts the focus firmly on the young person.

Preparing for the transition process

Transition into adult life can be a difficult process for both parents and young people.

What if my child lives away from home?

If your child is living away from home, for example at a residential school or health unit, you may need some extra support with transition and planning for the future. 

Moving into adult services

As your son or daughter approaches adulthood, responsibility for their social care will pass from children's services to adult health and social care services.

Planning support for health needs

When young people are at school, therapy and medical support are provided through children's health services.

Planning for the future: education, employment and daytime activities

When your son or daughter leaves school there may be a number of options open to them, depending on where you live and the services available in your area.

Funding, money and benefits

During transition, you will need to think carefully about the various forms of financial support you will need to help your son or daughter to achieve their plans for the future.


Transition is a good time for you and your son or daughter to start thinking about their housing options for the future.