Natspec has published a damning report into the quality of information, advice and guidance about post-16 options offered to young people with special educational needs and their families. 137 families of young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in England or Learning and Skills Plan (LSP) in Wales responded to the Natspec survey. The vast majority were highly critical of the support they had received.
The report has recommendations for colleges, schools, local authorities and government to address the issues raised by parents relating to timeliness, availability, sufficiency and quality of the information, advice and guidance (IAG) on offer.
- Two thirds rated the overall quality of the IAG that they or their young person received as poor.
- 58% of parents said that discussions about post-16 options came too late.
- Only 10% said post-16 options were formally discussed in the Year 9 annual review, in line with statutory guidance in England and Wales.
- Almost a third said that they were never encouraged to think about post-16 options.
- Almost half said they had done all the research themselves, with no support from their local authority.
- Only a quarter of families had been offered information about several different post-16 providers and supported to understand the difference between them.
The report includes detailed recommendations for colleges, schools, the inspection agencies, local authorities and government. These include the need for more information, to be provided earlier and in advance of transition points. Parents and young people require impartial services and need more information about their rights. Local Offers need a thorough overhaul, and both the English and Welsh Governments should ensure sufficient funding available to local authorities to enable them to provide a level of IAG on post-16 options to meet the requirements set out in their respective Codes of Practice. The inspection agencies should investigate and report on how effectively local authorities are providing IAG on post-16 options. DfE and Welsh government should also set some standards for local authorities for inclusion of young people in the decision-making process around post-16 options, and fund training for relevant staff to enable this to happen consistently.
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