Section 1 – What’s Your Next Move After School?

After year 11:

You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays. You must then choose whether to:

  • stay in full-time education – for example at school, sixth form college or further education college
  • start an apprenticeship, supported internship or traineeship
  • work (including self-employment) or volunteer while also doing part-time education or training

Later (18+), in addition to the options above, you may want to consider:

  • Higher Education
  • leaving formal learning for work/self-employment – this includes Supported Employment
  • accessing Day opportunities and activities

You can carry on learning with an EHCP if you are still working towards your learning outcomes – some young people with SEND need longer to complete and consolidate their education and training. When determining whether a young person aged over 18 no longer requires a plan, a local authority must consider whether the educational or training outcomes specified in the plan have been achieved.

To find out what qualification levels mean you can visit the Gov. website

After year 11 at school you have a number of choices or Options.


School sixth forms and post-16

All schools are required to be inclusive and most children and young people with SEN attend a mainstream school.

Sixth form schools that offer post 16 courses in Dorset.

Schools in BCP

Sometimes a special school or specialist resourced provision might be the best option:

Special schools in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Special Schools in Dorset

Use the GOV.UK  ‘find and compare schools in England’ tool to search for schools and colleges near you, and check their performance.



There are three main types of college:

  • further education (FE) colleges,
  • sixth form colleges and
  • specialist further education colleges.

For information about applying to college click on this link

Use the following links for more information about local mainstream colleges.

Bournemouth and Poole College

Kingston Maurward

Weymouth College

We also have some colleges near to BCP and Dorset borders. You can find these through the SEND Local Offer for the Local Authority they are based within.

Young people over 16 are not entitled to education across five days a week so do check how many days a week the course is.


Specialist Colleges

When making decisions about post-school education options and applying for a place at a specialist college, the Children and Families Act means that by law you can:

  • have your views and wishes listened to;
  • request a place at a specialist college or any college of your choice;
  • get a personalised Education, Health and Care plan and;
  • appeal to a tribunal if you are not happy with the decisions.

You can request a place at a specialist college when this is the best place to meet a young person’s needs. Department for Education guidance on requesting a place includes:

“Parents and young people do not need to apply for and be rejected from a general FE college before requesting that a specialist post-16 institution be named on their EHC plan. The parent’s / young person’s request carries particular statutory weight, so they should request the provider they would like.”

Specialist Colleges are generally only available if you are not able to access your local college courses. You can agree the funding with your local authority SEN team and you would need to show that you have considered your local college’s courses.

Information about specialist colleges can be found on the NATSPEC website using the link below. Generally these colleges are further away, however we do have a few in BCP and Dorset.

Search for a specialist college on the Natspec website.


Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Supported Internships:

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences)

You can search for apprenticeships using these links:

There are inclusive apprenticeships for apprentices who have special educational needs, learning difficulties or disabilities

You can find out more about support in apprenticeships here:

A traineeship is a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship.

You can find out more about traineeships here:

Search for a traineeship using this link:

Supported internships are a structured, work-based study programme for 16 to 24-year-olds who have an education, health and care ( EHC ) plan. The aim of a supported internship is a substantial work placement, with the support of an expert job coach.

Accessible guide to Supported Internships

Supported internships guidance for learners 8th Feb 2022:

BCP Council now offer Supported Internships in partnership with SWRAC and Project Search.

Click on the next link to find out who else offers Apprenticeships, traineeships and Supported Internships locally.

Amazing Apprenticeships have information about T levels, apprenticeships and traineeships.

Don’t forget to contact Colleges – they usually offer Apprenticeships and Supported Internships too.


Work or volunteering

In England, a 16-year-old who is in full-time work or volunteering, by law, has to be in part-time education or training till they are 18. There are lots of rules about where and when you can work


Enterprise or Self-employment is another route you could take after you leave school or college. This could mean setting up your own business as either a freelance service, a sole trader or a registered company

Set up a business – GOV.UK

Support for starting a business | The Prince’s Trust

Locally The SAMEE project can help people learn all about how to set up an enterprise or business.

There are also organisations who offer direct help and support for disabled people to find work. Examples of these are:


Supported Employment –  you could work with a supported employment charity or The Department for Work and Pensions to support you into work. Use the following links for more information.

BCP supported employment

Dorset Supported Employment

More about Supported Employment from the British Association for Supported Employment

There is also a legal duty under the Care Act to facilitate employment and volunteering opportunities to people with disabilities, and other vulnerable adults. Ask a social worker for more information.

Dorset council has awarded a three-year contract to Pluss from this spring. The assistance ranges from CV creation and work experience to practical help like navigating public transport.

BCP COAST supports individuals who have a long term health condition or a disability to gain and/or sustain work.

Day Services & Supported Employment

Higher Education

Higher education is the name for qualifications and courses you can take after 18. It includes diplomas, foundation years, bachelor degrees and more. (Some students may go to university or into another type of higher education earlier than 18 years old if they gain relevant qualifications early).

We have 3 universities in Dorset: AECC University CollegeArts University Bournemouth and Bournemouth University, and UCAS can help you explore options further away from home.

Disability Rights UK has a guide to higher education that you may find useful. The guide includes stories from real students with special educational needs or disabilities.

The ESFA funds some courses in higher education institutions (HEI) that are not prescribed higher education courses, meaning it’s possible to have an EHC plan in these circumstances.

HEIs can use their ESFA allocation to provide support for particular students, provided it meets the funding, study programme and eligibility criteria that ESFA publish every year for 16 to 19 students (see ‘16 to 19 education: funding guidance’).

Prospective students should be made aware that HEI providers are not legally bound by the Children and Families Act 2014. However, they are legally bound by the Equality Act 2010.


Studying for a Level 4 (higher education level) qualification

Studying at this level would be considered a positive outcome from an EHC plan, and a pathway to finding a good job. A young person studying at level 4 in an FE college or HEI would not be entitled to an EHC plan.

There are separate systems in place to support disabled young people in higher education (HE), including Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs). These are non-repayable grants that assist with the additional costs incurred by disabled students. They apply to those studying HE in an FE environment. DSAs fund a range of support, including assistance with the cost of:

  • specialist equipment
  • travel
  • non-medical helpers (for example sign language interpreters)

For more information on DSA: Disabled Students Allowance

Or watch a video about DSA by clicking on the picture:

DSA is available to part-time students doing open or distance learning. In England you will be eligible for DSA as long as it is a designated course and you’re studying at least 25% of the full-time equivalent.

You can use your higher education qualifications towards:

  • UCAS has created a series of guides that are loaded with information to help you understand things like subject choices, gap years, University, finance, and Degree level Apprenticeships
  • And Not Going to Uni also offers information on options post-18


Services to help those with care and support needs with training, work experience, employment and how to prepare for work as well as volunteering opportunities can be found on the Local Authority Directory for your area

For people in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole please visit the Service Provider Directory here.

For people in Dorset please visit Our Dorset by clicking on the image below:

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