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Further education

Explore your options for further education and training after school.

Education support for people with a learning disability doesn't stop when they leave secondary school - in fact, young people with a learning disability can continue to receive support with education and training up to the age of 25.

The point at which someone moves from being a child to being a 'young person' is when they have completed the academic year in which they turn 16. This is when they traditionally move from secondary education into further education.

Young people in Northern Ireland and Wales might decide to leave education at this stage, but in England they must stay in education or training until the age of 18.

Most further education takes place at colleges, training facilities or sixth form in school. There are lots courses and options available, including study programmes and tailored packages of support five days a week. Visit your Local Offer to see what options are available in your area.

The SEND system also offers support to anyone up to the age of 25 if they are still in education or training. 

There are also employment training options available to young people with a learning disability, which can help build skills and confidence to help get a job. These options usually involve doing a course that also includes a placement in a workplace.

There are three main training options available in England for young people with a learning disability - apprenticeships, traineeships and supported internships .


If a young person is over 16, they can apply for an apprenticeship. There are various levels of apprenticeship you can undertake depending on your current skills and qualifications, including:

  • intermediate apprenticeship
  • advanced apprenticeship
  • higher apprenticeship
  • degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements differ depending on certain factors such as the apprenticeship level and the age of the apprentice.

All apprenticeships are real jobs so all apprentices earn a wage , at least at £3.90 per hour in the first year if the apprentice is under 19. Full details on apprenticeships' pay and conditions.

Apprentices should work for at least 30 hours per week and an apprenticeship takes between one and five years to complete, depending upon the level of apprenticeship and the industry sector.

Most of the training is delivered in the workplace and the rest of the training is given by a training organisation , either at the workplace, off-site (perhaps at college) or via e-learning.

Learn more about apprenticeships.


Traineeships are education and training programmes with work experience , designed to get young people (aged 16-24) ‘work ready’.

Sometimes people take traineeships to help them get prepared for an apprenticeship. 

A traineeship often provides:

  • a high-quality work experience placement with an employer
  • work preparation training, provided by the training organisation
  • English and maths support, if required, provided by the training organisation.

Traineeships last up to a maximum of 6 months.

Learn more about traineeships.

Supported internships

A supported internship is a study programme for young people aged 16 to 24 who have an Education, Health and Care Plan, who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so.

They support people to move into paid employment at the end of the programme.

A Supported Internship is based primarily at an employer, with much less classroom study and less of a focus on English and maths support. Instead, it aims to equip young people with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace.

Supported Internships are unpaid and normally last for a minimum of 6 months.

Learn more about supported internships.

Other options

There are a range of other options young people with a learning disability can access in further education, including tailored study programmes. See your local offer for more details about what is available locally.

Get in touch, we're here for you

The Learning Disability Helpline is our free help and advice line.

Our team can offer advice, information and discuss what support Mencap can offer tailored to your needs, in your area.

Call or email us

Young people have the right to make decisions about their education

Young people have the right to make their own decision about the support they receive, including deciding where they want be educated. Your local Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS) will support you to make these decisions.

Many young people still want their parents' advice in making these decisions or may want their parents to make decisions for them, but the young person's preferences must always be considered when possible.

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