Professional environment of post-school transitions of young people with additional support needs
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The focus of this qualitative study is the professional environment where post-school transitions take place. It seeks to identify some possible means for improving outcomes for young people with low educational achievement, dyslexia, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties as they move on from school. The study picks up a recommendation made by Ward and Thomson (1997), following their Scotland-wide survey, that further investigation is needed into post-school transitions of such ‘unrecorded’ young people. Taking ahead this task brings together different areas of knowledge, for example, inclusive education, youth transitions and social theory. To orient the research, initial data were gathered through a questionnaire completed by 14 educational professionals and in structured interviews with 16 youngsters, mostly recently enrolled at college, and their families. Ideas occurring here were then used to inform the main data gathering process. This was conducted in 17 semi-structured audio-recorded interviews, each approximately one hour’s duration, with school teachers, college lecturers and other professionals associated with transition. The methodology utilised a critical friends group to shape the research as it progressed. The thematic analysis of the data produced information about dissimilar models of transition support, varying constructions of young people and difficulties in partnership working. The ensuing discussion considered the roles of trusted signals of youth’s value, of careership based on transformations of identity and aspects of social capital on transitions of young people with additional support needs. The conclusion sets out areas for improvement and asks that greater consideration be given to the constraining factors within the professional environment of the post-school transitions of young people with additional support needs.