Guide to Transition

‘Transition’ in education terms means moving into, between or out of educational settings. There are three key transition points in your child’s school life: 

  • Early years to primary school 
  • Primary to secondary school 
  • Secondary school to work, college or university 

Moving from one school or educational setting to another can be stressful and children and young people with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus often find transition more challenging than their peers. By following this guide, parents and teachers can help to make transition easier.  

Person-centred planning

The best type of planning has the child or young person at its centre. Services should not simply focus on the process or what is thought of as ‘right’ for the child or young person. The young person should always be consulted and be involved in the process.  

Key points about effective transition

1. From early years to primary school
  • Share relevant information during transition visits
  • Give children the chance to visit their new school and join in a variety of lessons and sessions
  • Make an ‘All about my New School’ booklet with photos to look at and discuss regularly
  • Use stories to explain new situations
  • Give children opportunities to meet new staff 
2. From primary school to secondary school
  • Give young people with the condition/s several opportunities to visit their new school, accompanied by a friend if they wish. 
  • Allow photographs to be taken of parts of the school to help with remembering the new setting. 
  • Provide colour-coded maps for different subject rooms and important areas such as the cafeteria, assembly hall and form rooms. 
  • Good communication between school and home is key to a successful transition. 
  • Creating a pupil profile or passport can help 
3. From secondary school to work, college or university

Secondary school is the time when parents and carers help their child to understand their condition so that they can explain it to new people they meet. Young people need to know how to keep themselves healthy, safe and supported as they grow up and become adults.   

By the start of Key Stage 3, many parents and carers have already introduced self-advocacy, where a child or young person starts to take charge of describing their own conditionlearning to speak up for themselves and making their own decisions about their own life. With support, many children and young people learn about their rights, their responsibilities, who to turn to and how to take charge of their own needs as they become more independent. 

Preparation for adulthood should be discussed during regular planning meetings 

Careers advice and information should give high expectations and a wide range of options. Young people and their parents should be helped to explore options and what support will be needed to achieve ambitions. 

Good transition planning provides a clear handover to new professionals and services so that young people and their families know and feel confident in the professionals, who they are working with and where they need to go to for help and advice. 

Help the receiving school or educational setting to be prepared

There’s a duty on schools to ‘make reasonable adjustments’ where pupils with disabilities are placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’. This duty is anticipatory and should be planned for well ahead of your child attending a school or moving through to transition to a new setting.  

Schools need to anticipate the requirements of pupils with disabilities and to make adjustments in advance 

Schools can do this by: 

  • Reading pupil profile, relevant reports and supporting documents, provision maps, SEN Support plan or EHC plan.  
  • Meeting and talking with parents and carers, and other key professionals. 
  • Observing the child in their current school before they join the new setting. 
  • Preparing all staff so they have a good understanding of the additional needs of your child. Parents can assist with staff briefing and training. 
  • Making families feel welcome and secure 
  • Current school need to pave the way by sharing information and the implications of an individual’s disability. 

Pupils with EHC Plans in secondary school

From Year 9 onwards pupils with an EHC plan should have an Annual Review meeting, which considers what provision will be required to assist the young person in preparing for adulthood and independent living. This Annual Review is often called an Early Transition Review meeting. 

Preparing for Adulthood planning should include support to prepare for: 

  • Further or Higher Education or employment 
  • Independent living 
  • Developing and maintaining friendships
  • Creating circles of support 
  • Maintaining good health and wellbeing 

If your child has an EHC plaAND it is unlikely that they will be able to undertake unsupervised learning at college or it is unsafe to leave them at home unsupported, then the LA should consider providing a package of support across education, health and social care, covering 5 days a week. Five-day packages do not have to be with one provider and could be achieved with a range of appropriate providers in different settings.  

Further Reading

Need more help?

If you need to speak with one of Shine’s specialist advisers about spina bifida or hydrocephalus, call us on 01733 555988 or click here to email us.

Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. We aim to respond to all enquiries as quickly as possible!


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