Transition from secondary school
In order to succeed, the individual needs to be able to cope with the changes that are occurring in their everyday life. Adolescence, for most, may have been a time of turbulence, but may have been even harder for the individual with Specific Learning Difficulties. He or she has had to try to cope with physical and psychological changes alongside difficulties that may already exist in his or her life.
Individuals with Specific Learning Difficulties may still have some difficulties with organisation, social skills and interacting with others, reading skills, writing and recording, and with specific co-ordination skills.
These difficulties may have been diagnosed, or may not have been fully identified, or may not be severe enough to warrant a diagnosis but may still interfere with the individual’s ability to access all parts of their educational needs and to cope with the transition process into Further Education or employment. Changes at work or college/university that others may be able to cope with may ‘throw’ the individual with additional learning needs.
Some individuals may be leaving Secondary School without the foundation skills, such as independent living skills, social skills, recording and organisation skills in place. This may put them at a disadvantage in an already demanding setting such as college/university or the workplace.
They may arrive at college/university or their new job at a distinct disadvantage and find they still have some foundation skills lacking. They may flounder quickly without the structure and support they have come to rely upon in Secondary School.
Transition from Secondary School can be one of the greatest changes in an individual’s life and heralds the starting point of true independence. He or she may have been supported and coped well in Secondary School and it may be only when they leave this, and have to manage in a new and dynamic setting with more responsibility, that some individuals start not to cope. This may become a ‘tipping point’ as they need to be much more self-organised.
Plan in advance and consider what needs to be addressed, and teach skills that may not have been achieved in comparison to peers.
Involve the key players – this is especially true at this time, as the individual may be regarded as an adult but still may need considerable support from home and/or from others. Involving the parents (where appropriate and with permission of the individual) may be important, to ensure a full and complete picture of needs and wants.
Being flexible is important – this means reviewing transition plans and considering if changes in the individual or the education setting/workplace he or she is entering need to occur.
Assess the risk – being prepared means that risks are assessed and a plan of action is determined. This includes undertaking an analysis of the demands of the course or job and considering the skills that are required, as well as considering difficulties that may arise in the first few days in the new setting.