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Support for parents and carers

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You can also search all of our services by visiting the information hub.

Top tips to help your child or young person choose their post-16 education or training

  • Keep the young person’s views at the centre when looking at the different options.
  • Contact the education setting or training provider you are considering and arrange a visit.
  • Before the visit read the school or college SEN information report and write a list of questions you’d like to ask at the visit.
  • Ask about the classrooms, timetable and how they help young people with SEND. Also find out if any outside professionals ( such as therapies) work with the setting.

Post-16 Education Settings - What are the options?

Does a young person have to stay in education once they are 16?

The law says that all young people must be in education or training until at least their 18th birthday. This might be:

  • full-time education in a study programme for young people over 16 (including a supported internship)
  • volunteering or a paid job, with part-time study
  • a traineeship
  • an apprenticeship

Staying on at school and going to Sixth form

You can choose to continue your education at the same school if it has post-16 provision. For some young people this can be a good option as the school will already know the additional support needed and can carry on that support through sixth form.

You can find information about all the schools that offer post-16 options here  . Specific information about each school’s SEND policy and SEN information support can be found on their websites.

Going to a local college in Portsmouth or the surrounding area

You may want to go to a different school or find a college which offers courses on things you are interested in.

All colleges have to provide help to students with SEND. Some colleges even offer courses specifically for young people with SEND.

All colleges should provide support to help students with SEND to complete their chosen course to the best of their abilities and some offer courses specifically designed for people with SEND.

For more information on the support offered by colleges , the SEN sections of their websites.

Click here to find a list of all the colleges in Portsmouth.

Studying for an apprenticeship

Apprenticeships combine hands-on  training in a job with study.

You can take  between 1 and 4 years to complete your apprenticeship – depending on which level you are studying.

The young person will get a wage and will  work at least 30 hours per week. The pay you get will be at National Minimum Wage.

At the end of the apprenticeship the young person will have a national qualification.

Levels of apprenticeship

Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels.

  • Intermediate or Level 2 is the equivalent of 5 GCSE passes at grades 4 to 9 (or A* to C).
  • Advanced or Level 3 is equivalent to 2 A-level passes.
  • Higher or Levels 4,5,6 and 7 are equivalent to a foundation degree or above.
  • Degree or Levels 6 and 7 are equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Who can apply?

You can apply for an apprenticeship while you’re still at school. To start one, you’ll need to be:

  • 16 or over
  • not in full-time education
  • living in England

Key points about apprenticeships

  • You will work alongside experienced staff.
  • You gain job-related skills.
  • You earn a money and get holiday pay.
  • You study towards a related qualification (usually one day a week).
  • Apprenticeships are not the same as going to university.
  • Some careers do not have apprenticeship pathways.

Visit Portsmouth College to find more about the apprenticeships they offer. 

Visit Highbury Colleges Apprenticeship page

Portsmouth Council Careers Apprenticeship page

Use the GOV.UK website to find an apprenticeship.

Click here to read Disability Rights UK guide to apprenticeships for disabled people.

Supported Internships - for young people with EHCPs

A supported internship is a study programme for young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). They last between 6 and 12 months.

The aim of a supported internship is to prepare young people with SEND for paid employment.

The course is split between the workplace and college and it gives on job based training with a local employer and a job coach to provide the young person with extra support.

On a supported internship, the young person is expected to require a higher level of support than a trainee or apprentice and will be offered workplace support in form of a job coach, as well as support for other learning.

Who can apply?

To start a supported internship, you must be aged between 16 and 24 and have an EHCP. There are usually no entry requirements.

To find a supported internship in Portsmouth visit one of the links below:

Portsmouth College Supported Internships

Highbury College Supported Internships

NHS Project Choice Supported Internships

Click here to read Preparation for Adulthood’s Easy read guide to supported internships

Requesting a post-16 setting when you have an Education Health and Care Plan

A Young person with an EHCP can stay in education until the age of 25 if their needs require them to. This means the EHC plan can stay in place if they still have needs and while they are in further education, training or supported internship, or if they are on an apprenticeship.

If you have an Education Health and Care Plan the Local Authority have to send you an amended plan naming your new post-16 education provider by the 31st March in the year you are due to start.  This means that you will find if you have a place on your post-16 course sooner than the majority of young people without EHCPs.

In the Autumn term ( sometimes sooner) your school will hold a transfer review. A meeting will be held and everyone will talk about your move to the next stage of your education. You will also get the chance to tell the Local Authority which post-16 setting you’d like to go to.

If you are not sure you can ask for some careers support before your meeting to help you decide. We have a specialist careers advice service in Portsmouth. Click here to find out more.

National Careers Service – Options for Young People with an EHCP Guidance

Post-16 special schools and colleges

In Portsmouth a small number of students attend special schools to complete their post-16 education. These are settings  for young people with special needs only, although lots will work with young people to help them form a link with local mainstream colleges.

Most young people who go to a special college or sixth form have an EHCP.

In Portsmouth City we have a number of young people attending the following post-16 settings:

Mary Rose School – Post-16 – Mary Rose have number of classes including ” The Lantern” which caters for young Autistic people. Mary Rose Academy (Solent) – The Lantern (

To see a national list of post-16 specialist colleges you can follow the link below.

Special education colleges, education for 16+ – Which School? for Special Needs (


A young man and a woman sat at a table with books

Careers Advice and Support for young people with SEND

Careers advice and guidance can help to explain the different choices and options available, and suggest opportunities for young people to consider before they make decisions about their future employment or careers.

In Portsmouth local secondary schools offer support and guidance on future plans and next steps towards getting a job or choosing a career.

Specialist Careers Guidance

We also have the specialist specialist careers guidance  team for young people aged 16-25 with special educational needs and disabilities. Click here to find out more.

National Careers Service

The National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. The service offers confidential and impartial advice. This is supported by qualified careers advisers. Click here to find out more. 

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