Further education at 16+ for deaf young people

Supporting your child to choose a post-16 education and training provider.

A group of teens at college study and chat together.

A change to the school leaving age in England (as of August 2015) means young people must now stay on in education and training until their 18th birthday. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it's 16.

When your child is 16 there should be a number of options available to them including some or all of the following.

  • Joining their secondary school’s sixth form (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) .
  • Another sixth form college (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) .
  • Further education college.
  • Completing the Senior Phase of the Curriculum for Excellence at their school (Scotland).
  • Apprenticeships, traineeships (England and Wales) and supported internships (England).
  • A Modern Apprenticeship (Scotland).
  • A specialist college for deaf young people (in England or Republic of Ireland).*
  • Part-time study combined with full-time employment (including voluntary work).
  • Employment (Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland).

*Northern Ireland does not have any specialist colleges for the deaf, but the education authority will decide whether or not to approve a specialist placement. The placement would need to be in England or the Republic of Ireland.

*Scotland does not have any specialist colleges for the deaf, but sometimes there may be funding from your education authority for your child to go to a specialist college in England, if they wish to.

It will be important that you and your child research the different options available in your area. Your child’s school should support your child with this including organising visits or taster days at places they could study.

If your child has an EHC plan (England) then they will have the right to request that a particular institution is named in their plan. Your local authority will then have to comply with the request and name your child’s preferred provider unless:

  • it would be ‘unsuitable’ due to your child’s age, ability or aptitude
  • sending your child to the institution would impact negatively on the education of other young people (as it would use up limited funds). 

Your local authority will need to contact your child’s preferred provider and ask them to comment on the draft EHC plan before naming the institution on the plan. The institution will not be allowed to refuse admission to your child on the grounds of disability under the Equality Act 2010. However, they might comment on the appropriateness of the institution for your child.

If no request is made by you or your child then it will be up to the local authority to name a suitable institution. However, it would mean your child could have little control or say as to where they study at 16.

When your child has secured a place at a post-16 provider your child’s school should share information with the provider about your child’s SEN provision, or additional support needs (ASN) provision (Scotland). Any information shared should be done with your child’s agreement.

Read about Catherine's experiences of college here.

Glossary Terms