Challenges in planning transition to adulthood for young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND): professional and managerial perspectives

Dunsmuir, Sandra; Cline, Tony; Crafter, Sarah and Laing, Jane (2020). Challenges in planning transition to adulthood for young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND): professional and managerial perspectives. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 20(1) pp. 27–37.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12459

Abstract

This study reviewed perceived changes to planning and management of transitions to adulthood for young people with special educational needs and disabilities in three local authorities in England, following implementation of the Children and Families Act (2014).

Wenger’s ‘community of practice’ theoretical framework was used to examine how groups of professionals and managers working in education, health and social care in three areas, set about implementing selected radical changes required by the legislation. Telephone interviews with sixteen participants were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. Themes identified related to professional activity, planning and organisation, implications for children, young people and parents and outcomes. There were indications of significant shifts in professional conceptualisations and reported practices as a result of the Act.

Participants described enhanced cross-service communication and co-ordinated working practices, achieved though service restructuring, co-location and changed lines of accountability. They are also reported to put an increased emphasis on long-term planning and a greater focus on involving the young person in planning and decision making with regard to defining outcomes, and living and working as an adult. The results are considered in relation to the extent that mandated change can influence attitudes and cultures within communities of practice, contributing to the contemporary theoretical debate to incorporate issues relating to power.

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