When choosing a post-16 setting and an appropriate course it is important that your child and their views should be at the centre of this process – but they will need support. To enable you to do this you might want to visit a number of post-16 settings to ensure that you are properly informed before you express any preference.
Each post-16 setting will have different arrangements for parents and carers and young people to visit the post-16 setting and you should contact the post-16 setting initially.
It will be essential that the visit is arranged in advance and at a time which will be convenient for both you and the post-16 setting.
You might like to consider the points below to help you get the most from your visit.
They are only suggestions and it is important that you add any other questions or points that you think are particularly relevant, or important, for you and the young person. It may be a good idea to write down the questions you want to be answered and take them with you.
Also, make sure that you have enough time available and that you are given enough time in the post-16 setting to look around and ask questions.
Before you visit a post-16 setting
Read the post-16 setting’s online information very carefully, for example, their SEN information and SEN policy and think about what the post-16 setting will need to do for your child and how they can help you.
Think about what you would like to find out, the questions to ask and the people you would like to meet.
Ask for and read the post-16 setting’s own brochure or prospectus.
Visiting the post-16 setting
Arrange the visit during the day. This will help create a realistic impression of the setting and help make an informed decision. Try to spend enough time in the post-16 setting to allow you to make an informed decision.
First impressions are important but you should base any decision on a range of responses, experiences and the information you gather.
You may want to consider arranging an initial visit to the post-16 setting without your child – but you should return with them later. You may want to visit the post-16 setting with a friend or relative with whom you can discuss important issues later on
Think about how the young person will travel to and from the post-16 setting. Consider the actual travelling time involved and the daily arrangements you will need to make.
Try, if possible, to meet the staff who could be involved with your child – the student support staff and education staff.
The person showing you around is there to help and will be pleased to answer your questions. You may wish to make another appointment to talk further with the staff, especially if you feel that there are queries you still need to clarify. You may be able to do this over the telephone, or by email.
In the classroom
It may be helpful to explore:
- how the structure and timetable of the week and the teaching and learning in class will meet your child’s needs
- how the individual needs of young people are met
- which adults work with the young people and their role in supporting the young person
- whether there are other young people in the post-16 setting with similar needs
- what arrangements there are for you, as a parent, to discuss their progress and contribute to target setting and planning, learning opportunities, including homework
It may be helpful to explore:
- which external professionals visit the post-16 setting that are relevant to your child’s own needs
- how advice from visiting professionals is implemented
- whether the young person would have to miss the same lessons or subjects to regularly work with any visiting professionals
The post-16 setting in general
It may be helpful to explore:
- any special adaptations and equipment your child may need?
- how your child will be supported outside lessons – in particular, lunch and break times
- whether any extra activities are available after the post-16 setting
- whether there are opportunities to meet with parents of other young people at the post-16 setting, perhaps through organised meetings
- if you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of anything else, for example, books, organised trips or extra equipment
- the range and condition of equipment or resources in classrooms and workshops
- what the information and communication technology (ICT) facilities are like
- what the post-16 setting’s expectations are of their young people and parents
It may be helpful to explore the post-16 setting’s policies such as behaviour and anti-bullying or fire evacuation or safeguarding. Do they match your expectations?
Post-16 setting atmosphere – overall impressions
Does the post-16 setting feel welcoming and do the young people seem well-behaved and happy? Try to imagine whether your child would be happy in the post-16 setting.
If there is anything you do not understand or are not happy with don’t be afraid to ask or speak about it there and then.
After the visit
Discuss your thoughts and feelings about the post-16 setting with the person you went with, or with your partner, a relative or a friend.
Telephone or visit the post-16 setting again if you want more information, perhaps with your child this time.
If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or is undergoing an EHC needs assessment, please feedback your views to the professionals involved in their education as soon as possible.
It is important that you are happy with the educational arrangements for your child and that you are confident that the post-16 setting can meet their needs.
Residential post-16 settings
There are additional points to think about and questions you might want to ask, such as:
- what links will there be between the post-16 setting and you, such as home visits or letters and emails?
- how and when you will be contacted about progress?
- how and when you will be contacted if there is a problem?
- what privacy will your child have?
- can you visit the dormitory or bedroom your child will use?
- will your child know who to go to if they are worried or have a problem?
- what are the safeguarding strategies?
- what arrangements are there for your child to telephone home or receive telephone calls?
- what arrangements are there if your child needs attention or is ill during the night?
- what are the bathroom facilities and routines?
- what arrangements are there for medical care?
- what opportunities will there be for your child to join out of post-16 setting activities, for example youth groups, sport, other leisure activities?
- will your child get the same opportunities to shop, cook, clean and relax as he or she would at home?
Arrange to meet the person who will be responsible for the overall care of young people out of post-16 setting hours.
If it is proposed that they remain at the post-16 setting over the weekend, what would be the range and programme of activities?
It is important that you are happy with the residential arrangements for your child and that you are confident that the post-16 setting can meet their needs.
If you need more support, Devon Information, Advice and Support (DIAS) can help.
This team offers legally based and easily accessible impartial information and advice, to support children and young people aged 0 – 25 years, with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents and carers.