Transition may be transitory but it has life-long consequences. The following tips are for secondary school teachers who are working with young people preparing to leave and take their next step in life.

This information was put together with the help of an experienced lead of a specialised unit for people with additional needs, including many autistic people, based in a mainstream school.

The key to our success is we plan early and ensure that we are going down the individual path that our young person has mapped out for themselves with support from key people. Quite rightly, without them being at the centre of the transition plan, it is not going to work. Obviously there can be teething problems - it is so important to keep these in perspective. – Wendy Bates, Head of the Enhanced Resource Base, Ernesford Grange Community Academy, Coventry

Plan, personalise and prepare

  • Personalise the whole process to meet individual need.
  • Ensure that careers education and planning programmes form part of the young person’s transition plan and appropriately reflect their individual requirements (National Transition Support Team, 2011).
  • Support and encourage the young person to reach their full potential and work hard towards their goals and aspirations, while ensuring that goals set are realistic and achievable.
  • Plan well in advance with the key people involved – the young person, SENCO, parents/guardian, advocate if necessary, teachers, people from the new placement, eg teacher, lecturer, support worker, employer.
  • Use visual aids, eg videos and photographs of key people and buildings.
  • Start travel training early. It can be a long and intense learning process for all those involved, but it can be really rewarding to see someone become so much more independent as a result.
  • Be aware of the importance of social skills and social confidence.
  • Organise familiarisation visits to the new college or employer. These can be as staggered as needed, eg trip to gate, trip to college, trip to inside the college.
  • Have college staff visit your school to meet specific students.
  • Organise peer support, eg a friendship group, buddy system, or circle of friends if the young person is moving to the school’s sixth form, or visits from students/employees who are already at the future college or place of employment.
  • Offer autism training to staff and students in the young person’s future class or college.
Develop your practice
  • Be aware of your and your school’s legal responsibilities in the transition process.
  • Find out where to go for advice regarding supporting people with autism in transitions, then seek and implement the advice.
  • Feed back your experiences and observations of teaching young people on the autism spectrum to your Heads and Principals so that decision-making and strategies can be informed by those practicing.
  • Learn from your past experience. Seek feedback from previous autistic pupils and their parents/carers.

Further information


National Transition Support Team (2011) Person centred approaches in transition planning. London: NCB

Winner, M and Cooke, P. (2011). Launching into adult life: Skills needed for the higher education or world of work. Autism Asperger’s Digest. July-August 2011, pp26-33

May 2015