Talking about tomorrow


These are the questions parents most often ask. If you have a concern that isn’t covered here, contact us and we’ll do our best to help

Click a heading below to view the answer to each question.

Who is responsible for transition planning?

It’s important to know who should do what, and what to expect at each stage.

Usually education staff take the lead when someone is under 16, and coordinate planning. They must consult the young person to get their views, and gather information from family members and other relevant people, such as healthcare staff, social services or support workers.

Education staff should arrange meetings to agree what needs to take place to allow the young person to progress towards their goals, and who will be responsible. These should involve you and your young person, and your views must be taken into account. You can bring other people to these meetings if that helps you make your views known.

Read more on who is responsible for what.

At the moment it’s not clear who should take responsibility for the plan once someone has left school.

It’s usually parents who need to make sure things stay on track – so it’s important to know what the plan is and where you can find support.

When should transition planning start?

National guidelines in Scotland say transition planning should start “at least 2 years before the school leaving date.” That’s because it often takes a long time to get the right support agreed, funded and in place.

Many people find it’s a good idea to start collecting information well before then, so they’re prepared. Starting early means you can take your time, look at more options, and give yourself the best chance of getting the right support in place.

Every family is different, but planning starts with putting together a picture of your young person – their likes and dislikes, any ideas they may already have, and what they’ll need in future to help them thrive. The clearer you are, the more likely you’ll be to make decisions that work well.

Most young people won’t know what they want to do after school when they’re 14, so focus on making sure that when school comes to an end your young person is spending their time in a way that’s worthwhile for them, and gives them the best possible chance to go on developing their awareness, knowledge and skills. And don’t forget it’s OK for someone to change their mind – so flexibility is an important part of planning too.

I can’t see my young person in a job. What else is there?

First, don’t reject the idea completely. A lot can change – what you see at age 16 may not be what someone will be capable of at 25. Finding activities that develop their skills, interests and abilities can be steps on a journey that could lead into work further down the line.

Read more about the possibilities in the Learning Opportunities and Getting a Job sections.

Activities don’t have to be paid to be meaningful. Volunteering opportunities can start from as little as half an hour at a time and still give someone the chance to learn useful skills and meet a range of people.

The most important thing is that young people don’t become isolated, and have the chance to keep on growing and developing.

Can my young person go to college or daycare outside the area we live in?

Yes – they can apply anywhere they want.

What can be difficult is arranging or paying for things like transport or a support worker to get them there. If that isn’t an issue, or if you’ve agreed funding to pay for this, it’s very flexible.

“Incapacity” and what it means

Many people are uncomfortable with the word “incapacity”, but this is the legal term used to indicate someone can’t make decisions for themselves or take action on their own behalf.

Under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, the Sheriff has to be satisfied that is the case before appointing a guardian or guardians.

The Act works on the basis that the law should intervene to the least extent needed to safeguard someone. That means someone may have capacity according to the legal definition, even if they need support to manage their affairs or communicate decisions. If the Sheriff believes they have capacity, guardianship will not be granted.

Under the Act, someone has “incapacity” if they:

  • can’t take action for themselves, or
  • can’t make, communicate, understand or remember decisions,

because of mental disorder, or of inability to communicate because of physical disability.

What is advocacy? Can it help me?

An advocate listens to your views and concerns, helps you explore your options, and supports you to communicate your wishes in meetings and appointments. They won’t make decisions for you, but they will ensure you have all the information you need. They will also make sure meetings cover everything you want raised, that you get to ask questions, and afterwards that you understand the outcome.

Everyone finds it difficult to get their point across sometimes. It can be intimidating to speak up in a room full of professionals – and even if that isn’t usually a problem, emotion or stress can make it harder. Advocates work with you or your young person for a better chance of getting your voice heard in discussions that affect you. Some are trained to support people with little or no speech to identify and communicate their wishes.

How can I find out about opportunities where I live?

There isn’t an easy answer because things often change so fast it’s difficult for organisations to keep lists up to date.

Councils have a duty to share information, so check their website or call social services to ask if they can help you find the right opportunities.

One of the best ways can be word of mouth, so keeping in touch with other parents and carers through support groups or online can help. You can ask if there’s something specific you’re looking for.