Special needs choices

If you have SEN because you have learning difficulties or a disability, you should still be able to access the same options at 16 as non-disabled people of the same age.

Check out your options

Through your school you should be able to access to an SEN adviser or teacher who will help you to decide what to do next.

Along with you parents or carers, teachers and friends, your SEN adviser will assist you in researching your options and filling in application forms.

If you have a SEN Statement while studying at school, then you should attend a review with your local authority when you turn 14. This review will produce a Transition Plan for you, which should set out ways in which to address your needs after you leave school.

This plan can then be adapted and updated at later reviews.

After you turn 16 you may decide to:

  • Stay on at school for sixth form
  • Go to a sixth form college
  • Study at a Further Education (FE) College
  • Go into Higher Education
  • Start an Apprenticeship
  • Start working straight away.

If your local college cannot offer a course that suits your individual needs, then the Skills Funding Agency may be able to offer you a funded place at a more suitable institution.

This usually means an independent college tailored towards students with disabilities or special educational needs. These are known as ‘special designated colleges’ and are often residential.

All 16 and 17-year-olds who are not in full time education or employment are guaranteed a suitable work-based training place

Get your funding

There is a wide variety of funding you might be entitled to after you turn 16.

You may have to ask your college, university or training provider to find out exactly what financial help you can get.

Learning Support Funds are there to help individuals overcome their financial barriers in order to access continued learning. The funds are intended for those with the greatest need and are normally means tested.

A Learning Support Fund can be used to help with the cost of:

  • Transport
  • Childcare
  • Residential lodgings
  • Domestic emergencies
  • Course-related items like books, materials and equipment.

To find out more about these funds, including the criteria of your individual LA or college, you should contact your Student Support Officer at your sixth form or college.

Other forms of support to help you in your studies, training or employment can include everything from wheelchair access, to larger typeface on computer screens for visually impaired people, or screen readers for people with a hearing impairment.

Get the best without losing your benefits

If you are a disabled child or young person or have special educational needs and decide to go on to higher education, you may be able to claim the Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA).

However, if you claim benefits it might affect the income of your parents or carers, particularly if they are also claiming benefits.

For instance, if you begin to receive Employment Support Allowance or Income Support, your parents or carers will no longer be able to claim Child Benefit.

The best way to check is by getting in touch with your local Benefits office.

Who can help?

GOV.UK has loads of up to date information on all sorts of public services for disabled people including education and training.

For information on job hunting, benefits and opportunities in your area, visit Job Centre Plus.

The Learning Disabilities website is run by the Foundation for People with Learning Difficulties and is a good place to keep updated on news stories relating to your special educational need.

If you are hearing impaired you may find the career advice on the website for the Action Against Hearing Loss useful.

If you are visually impaired you may find useful career advice on the website for the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People).