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Post-16 education for young people with SEND

Find out what post-16 education choices are available for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Coming to the end of your formal school life can feel daunting, but it offers you new opportunities, as well as a sense of independence and freedom.

If you are thinking about what you would like to do in the future, you might want to talk to someone about your options. Within each school there is a designated person who can help you with choices and careers advice, once you reach 16.

Post-16 education choices

All young people are expected to stay in formal education or training until their 18th birthday. This does not mean that you have to stay at school – there are a number of options that may suit you better. Your options include:

  • sixth form (school or college)
  • further education college
  • apprenticeships
  • traineeships
  • supported internships

Apply for a sixth form

You can choose to stay at your current school or apply for the sixth form at a different school, if it has the course and subjects you're interested in. If you are thinking about changing schools, look at the school's website and attend the open day. You can make an informed decision if you have seen the school, met the teachers and students, and seen the facilities available.

Different schools offer a range of courses from A levels to more vocational courses, such as BTECs. Many special schools also offer post-16 options.

Find sixth form colleges in the borough.

Apply for a further education college

Further education colleges have courses for all abilities and interests. They can also offer additional learning support and supported learning courses for young people aged 16–25, with additional support needs, a learning difficulty or disability. These include IT and business skills, pathways to independence, and preparation for working in areas such as catering and horticulture.

Apply for an apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a great way to experience work, earn a salary and get a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeship roles can be found in many areas, including accountancy, engineering, financial advice and veterinary nursing.

For more information about apprenticeships and opportunities available, visit:

Apply for a traineeship

Traineeships are for young people who need extra support before they move on to an apprenticeship or employment. They offer training to help prepare you for work, provide English and maths for those who need it, and high-quality work experience opportunities. Programmes can last from six weeks up to six months, and up to 80% of the training takes place in a work-based setting.

Visit NEET Traineeship for more information.

Apply for supported internships

Supported internships can help young people with complex needs, and higher support needs, to access employment. You can get on-the-job training, and the chance to become familiar with the workplace. You need to have either an education, health and care plan or a current Learning Disability Assessment to apply.

See our guide to supported internships and opportunities.

You can also read about young people's experiences of supported internships, find accessible fact sheets and watch a video on the Preparing for Adulthood Website.

See our higher education page for your options after 18 years.