Helping your child prepare to leave school

Reading time: About 3 mins

If your child has additional support needs, this guide will give you an idea of what to expect. 

Moving from school to college, university or work can be a difficult for any young person. 

If your child has additional support needs, the school and the careers service will start planning early to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Start planning early

Your child will have a transitions meeting at least 12 months before they’re due to leave school.

This meeting lets you both discuss different ideas and options with their teacher and a careers adviser from Skills Development Scotland. 

Depending on your circumstances, there may be some other people at the meeting.

This guide will give you an idea of what to expect, and how to help your child prepare.

Before the meeting:

1. Talk about what they want to do

Talk to your child what they’re interested in, and what’s important to them. Make sure they are comfortable talking to you about their hopes for the future. Encourage them to think of anything they’d like to cover in the meeting so that you can ensure it’s discussed.

2. Do some research

Look at information about different options such as college, university, supported employment, employment, and see what support is available.

3. Get up to date on their school work

Read their school reports, and ask how they’re getting on in class and which subjects they’re doing well in.

4. Try the Strengths quiz

You could try the Strengths quiz together. It’s a good way to help them start thinking about what they’re good at.

At the meeting: 

5. Listen

Listen to your child, their teacher and careers adviser. You’re there to support your child and encourage them. 

The advice you get will help your child decide what their next steps could be, and find out what support they can get to reach their goals. For example, you might talk through some potential options and make a plan detailing how your child can work towards these. 

Make sure your child understands what actions are expected of them, and that you both have a way to keep track of them. 

Amy’s story

Sixth-year student Amy was head girl at a secondary school for pupils with additional support needs.

She and her mum met with the depute head teacher (DHT) and Skills Development Scotland careers adviser Moira Higgins.

Amy was interested in childcare and has a lot of work experience from helping out at a nearby nursery. During the meeting, the group discussed how she might work towards a job in that area. 

Although her reports from the nursery have been great, Amy’s qualifications meant she might struggle to get into a childcare course.

The DHT and Moira helped Amy work out a plan to try and boost her experience, and to look at training programmes which could lead on to a Modern Apprenticeship.

Amy also had an aptitude for catering, so this is another option which was incorporated into the plan as a possible back-up.

After the meeting:

6. Get more information

There are lots of helpful guides available online for parents and carers.

You can also ask for more transition meetings if you feel they would help.