Tools and resources

Participation and engagement with young people

Participation and engagement with young people

The guideline and legislation

The guideline recommends using person-centred approaches (1.1.4) to support young people's involvement in their own transition planning (1.2.11) and in the planning of services (1.5.5). To support them in this process, the guideline recommends enabling young people to identify a 'named worker' who could coordinate their transition care and support (from children to adult services) (1.2.5). The SEND Code of Practice sets out the requirements that need to be met:

Young people must have confidence that they are receiving confidential and impartial information, advice and support. Staff working directly with young people should be trained to support them and work in partnership with them, enabling them to participate fully in decisions about the outcomes they wish to achieve. Young people may be finding their voice for the first time, and may need support in exercising choice and control over the support they receive (including support and advice to take up and manage Personal Budgets). Advocacy should be provided where necessary. Local authorities must provide independent advocacy for young people undergoing transition assessments, provided certain conditions are met (see section 67 of the Care Act 2014).
(SEND Code of Practice section 2.15)


There is a wealth of resources on developing the participation of young people and on using person-centred approaches at transition. In many of these resources young people set out ideas which would improve their experience of using services and making choices. This is an example from young people with long-term health conditions:

Focus on me the person, not my condition;

Ask about my whole life;

Be friendly and don't make assumptions about how teenagers behave;

Have up-to-date, age-appropriate information;

Help me learn more about my condition so I can make good decisions

Common Room (2015) Talking about rights

Requests like these from young people sound simple to achieve, yet prove difficult to implement meaningfully within a multi-agency framework.

Learning from local areas

Learning from the local area workshops highlighted that participation and engagement of parents and carers was better or better established than the participation and engagement of young people directly. Local areas identified that the revised Code of Practice content, including using the more person-centred, outcome-focused Education, Health and Care plans, brings an opportunity to support young people to have a larger role in planning. In addition, the development of the Local Offer was seen as an essential element in improving participation and engagement.

Learning from the workshops covered three areas of participation: engaging with young people, sharing views and providing information to support young people and families in making choices. They are set out in the table below with the recommendations they link to in the guideline.

Guideline reference

Local area learning – participation and engagement

Recs: 1.1.1–1.1.4; 1.2.5–1.2.10; 1.2.11; 1.2.12; 1.2.19–1.2.22; 1.5.4; 1.5.5

Engagement with young people

Build in work with young people with SEND to the wider local participation and engagement programme. Sharing resources and skills across teams can increase staff confidence and encourage better engagement with young people.

Identify and plan support to meet the communication needs of local young people. This includes staff training (for example in using person-centred approaches), and having access to particular skills (for example, sign language), when needed. This can greatly increase the participation of young people in their own plans and in shaping local services and support.

Sharing information

Agree with families and young people how their views are shared. For example, views on service planning shared through the Parent Carer Forum; Youth Parliament or on dedicated council web pages can promote the needs of young people and highlight gaps in local support.

Share information that young people and families provide with services including commissioners. A regular slot at strategic and operational multi-agency meetings can be helpful along, with a clear point of reference for staff to access the information or views when needed.

Providing information

In relation to transition, 'information' might include support to assist in accessing information from an advocate or lead worker, support from the local Independent Support programme organisation or from peer support groups.

Systems like the Family Information Service; service directories; and Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) should include information for young people and families with SEND to make sure it reaches as many people as possible.

Include information on general issues, including drug and alcohol issues; pregnancy; child sexual exploitation (CSE) and personal safety; and local community activities in the Local Offer.

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