Transition planning

There can be a lot to think about when you’re getting older and moving from child to adult services. Many different people may be involved in planning the transition process.

This page explains:

How it works

There isn’t a set way the transition process works. It depends on lots of factors, including: 

  • Your needs.
  • What you want at this stage in your life.
  • Which providers are involved. 
  • Where you live.

What should happen when

14-15 years old (Year 9) 

  • First transition annual review – this is the best time to start thinking about your transition.
  • Your education, health and care plan (EHC plan) should be reviewed. 
  • Health and social services may start transition preparation.  

15-16 years old (Year 10) 

  • Second transition annual review. 
  • Your EHC plan should be reviewed and outcomes updated. 
  • If you’re not planning to stay in school after 16, you can go and visit other settings, such as colleges. 

16-17 years old (Year 11) 

  • Third transition annual review in the autumn term. 
  • Your EHC plan should be updated in the autumn term. 
  • You decide where you would like to continue your studies after 16 if you’re not staying at school or leaving education.
  • If necessary, a panel will meet to discuss requests and carry out further assessments. 
  • You can now ask for an assessment of your social care needs. 

17-18 years old (Years 12 and 13) 

If you’re in school or college: 

  • Your annual reviews and EHC plan updates should continue. 
  • You may visit the placements you might go into after age 19. 

If you’re in a supported internship or apprenticeship: 

  • A named key worker should carry out your annual review and update your EHC plan.
  • You can discuss and plan further study, work experience or job applications. 

18-19 years old (Year 14)

If you’re in school or college: 

  • Your annual review and EHC plan update should happen as before. 
  • You can decide which post-19 placement you prefer. 
  • A panel will discuss placements if they have high costs. 
  • Under the Care Act, a local authority (LA) must carry out a transition assessment before your 18th birthday. But this should be happening anyway as part of updating your EHC plan.  

19-25 years old 

Your EHC plan can remain in place until you move into either: 

  • Higher education. 
  • Paid work.  
  • Voluntary work.
  • Work experience. 
  • Adult social care day provision. 
  • Residential care. 

When you’re 25

Your EHC plan will end, if it hasn’t already. But you may still have social care, health and carer’s assessments at any age.

Health care plans and personal budgets should still be reviewed each year.  

Who’s involved?

You’re the most important person involved in planning.

Your views, feelings and ideas should be at the heart of the process right from the start.

It’s up to the professionals involved to make sure you’re at the centre of decision making.

Find out more about making your own choices.

Who else might be part of transition planning?

  • Your parents or caregivers. These are the people who know you best. It’s important their needs, wishes and abilities are considered during the planning process, too.
  • The rest of your family. If you have siblings, they may be able to contribute. Their needs should also be considered as transition affects the whole family.
  • School staff, including anyone who gives you one-to-one support. They’re likely to have spent a lot of time with you and will have detailed knowledge of you and your needs. School staff play a practical role in transition, too, especially with your EHC plan. And your local authority may give information about further/higher education courses at an early stage, so you can start thinking about this.
  • Social care staff. Not all young people have a social worker. But if you do, they’ll be part of planning your transition. A representative from adult social services should go to reviews and planning meetings, too.
  • A healthcare representative. Someone who knows about your healthcare should go to reviews and planning meetings, so they can discuss your needs and help make the move to adult services go smoothly.
  • Support from an independent organisation. You may already be connected to an organisation, like Sense, who know you and your family and can support you through your transition.

Tips for transition planning – for young people and parents

  • Think ahead. You don’t have to wait for the process to start. As a family, you can begin talking about what comes next before transition starts formally.
  • Talk to other families. Those with slightly older children can be a great source of information as they’re a few stages ahead of you. Those at the same stage can give emotional support and swap notes. You’re not on your own.
  • Keep a note of thoughts and questions between calls and meetings. It’s easy to forget what you want to ask when you have the chance to speak to someone. It may be helpful to jot things down when you think of them, so you can mention them in one session.
  • Make notes in calls and meetings. Trying to keep everything in your head can be stressful. Jotting things down means you can go back to them whenever you need to. Include dates of phone calls or meetings to help you keep track of what’s been agreed.
  • Pace yourself. The transition process is a long one and you may feel overwhelmed at the beginning. Don’t panic. Different things will happen at different stages.

Challenges you may face 

Transition doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes things don’t happen when they should.

Coordinating everything can be difficult and you and your family may find different services don’t talk to each other or keep everyone updated.

Don’t forget, any change can be difficult, especially if you feel very settled with the support you’ve had so far.

People involved in your care and education should be able to give more detailed information about your situation.

If you are young person with complex disabilities, Sense is also here to support you through the transition process.

There are laws around transition. These cover what should happen, and what your rights are.

You don’t need to know all the laws, but these links could be helpful for you and your family if you’re having any issues.

This content was last reviewed in April 2022. We’ll review it again next year.