Young people with learning difficulties need help when they leave education
Press release issued: 25 September 2007
Young people with learning disabilities who go away to residential schools and colleges face difficult times when they leave, according to new research.
The study, Help to move on: transition pathways for young people with learning difficulties in residential schools and colleges, by the Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol and HFT (The Home Farm Trust) found that the move from school or college is a stressful time for families and young people with learning disabilities. Despite government guidance on transition planning for this group of young people, the distance away from home often gets in the way of careful and timely planning for the next move.
For the 15 young people who took part in the research, there appeared to be a lack of meaningful choice about what to do next other than remaining in residential education or training. Paid work did not feature as a strong possibility for the future.
The study found that families and young people wanted more help and support to steer themselves through this tricky stage in their lives. Better information, more forward planning and sustained relationships with key professionals were all things which families thought would make a positive difference.
Initial research findings from the study were used by ‘Action Learning Sets’ in five local authorities in south-west England who wanted to review and improve transition pathways for this group of vulnerable young people.
David Abbott, Senior Research Fellow at the Norah Fry Research Centre, said: “Life can be hard for young people after they leave residential school or college. Our study shows that young people and families need lots of support and good information to help them move on.”
Robina Mallett, Family Care Support Officer at HFT, added: “This group of young people have more complicated support needs than most but this should not mean that they and their families have such a tough time getting what they need: our work with Norah Fry gives plenty of reminders about how we can improve things.”
Further information‘Help to move on: transition pathways for young people with learning difficulties in residential schools and colleges’ by Pauline Heslop, David Abbott, Lisa Johnson and Robina Mallett is published by York Publishing Services.
The research was a partnership between HFT, a national charity providing support and care for people with learning disabilities and their families; the Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol; Connexions West of England and the South West Agency for Learning Disabilities.
The research study took place between March 2004-December 2006 and was funded by the Health Foundation.
Action Learning Sets are small groups of individuals who support one another in learning and development in an area where they have an interest and wish to increase their expertise.
The Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol was established in 1988 and is one of the UK’s leading centres in the field of disability research. Its principal interests are the evaluation and development of services for people with learning difficulties and disabled children and their families.