Choosing a Post-16 Setting

Young people with special educational needs and disabilities

When choosing a Post 16 setting and an appropriate course it is important that the young person and their views should be at the centre of this process - but they will need support. To enable you to do this you might want to visit a number of Post 16 settings to ensure that you are properly informed before you express any preference.

Each Post 16 setting will have different arrangements for parents/carers and young people to visit the Post 16 setting and you should contact the Post 16 setting initially.

It will be essential that the visit is arranged in advance and at a time which will be convenient for both you and the Post 16 setting.

You might like to consider the points below to help you get the most from your visit.

They are only suggestions and it is important that you add any other questions or points that you think are particularly relevant, or important, for you and the young person. It may be a good idea to write down the questions you want answered and take them with you. Also make sure that you have enough time available and that you are given enough time in the Post 16 setting to look around and ask questions.

Before you visit a Post-16 setting

  • Read the Post 16 setting’s online information very carefully, eg SEN information, SEN policy and think about what the Post 16 setting will need to do for the young person and how they can help you
  • Think about what you would like to find out, the questions to ask and the people you would like to meet
  • Ask for and read the Post 16 setting’s own brochure/prospectus

Visiting the Post 16 setting

  • Arrange the visit during the day. This will help create a realistic impression of the setting and help make an informed decision
  • Try to spend enough time in the Post 16 setting to allow you to make an informed decision
  • First impressions are important but you should base any decision on a range of responses, experiences and the information you gather
  • You may want to consider arranging an initial visit to the Post 16 setting without the young person - but you should return with them later
  • You may want to visit the Post 16 setting with a friend or relative with whom you can discuss important issues later on
  • Think about how the young person will travel to and from the Post 16 setting
  • Consider the actual travelling time involved and the daily arrangements you will need to make
  • Try, if possible, to meet the staff who could be involved with the young person - the student support staff and education staff
  • The person showing you around is there to help and will be pleased to answer your questions. You may wish to make another appointment to talk further with the staff, especially if you feel that there are queries you still need to clarify. You may be able to do this over the telephone, or by email

In the classroom

It may be helpful to explore:

  • how the structure and timetable of the week and the teaching and learning in class will meet the young person’s needs
  • how the individual needs of young people are met
  • which adults work with the young people and their role in supporting the young person
  • whether there are other young people in the Post 16 setting with similar needs
  • what arrangements there are for you, as a parent, to discuss their progress and contribute to target setting and planning, learning opportunities, including homework

External support

It may be helpful to explore:

  • which external professionals visit the Post 16 setting that are relevant to the young person’s own needs
  • how advice from visiting professionals is implemented
  • whether the young person would have to miss the same lessons or subjects to regularly work with any visiting professionals

The Post 16 setting in general

It may be helpful to explore:

  • any special adaptations and equipment the young person may need?
  • how the young person will be supported outside lessons - in particular lunch and break times
  • whether any extra activities are available after Post 16 setting
  • whether there are opportunities to meet with parents of other young people at Post 16 setting, perhaps through organised meetings
  • if you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of anything else, eg books, organised trips, extra equipment
  • the range and condition of equipment/resources in classrooms and workshops
  • what the ICT (information and communication technology) facilities are like
  • ask the Post 16 setting what their expectations are of their young people and parents
  • it may be helpful to explore the Post 16 setting’s policies such as behaviour and anti-bullying or fire evacuation or safeguarding. Do they match your expectations?

Post 16 setting atmosphere - overall impressions

  • Does the Post 16 setting feel welcoming?
  • Try to imagine whether the young person would be happy in the Post 16 setting.
  • Do the young people seem well behaved/happy?
  • If there is anything you do not understand or are not happy with don’t be afraid to ask or speak about it there and then.

After the visit

  • Discuss your thoughts and feelings about the Post 16 setting with the person you went with, or with your partner, a relative or friend.
  • Telephone or visit the Post 16 setting again if you want more information, perhaps with the young person this time.
  • If the young person has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or is undergoing an EHC needs assessment, please feedback your views to the professionals involved in the young person’s education as soon as possible.
  • It is important that you are happy with the educational arrangements for the young person and that you are confident that the Post 16 setting can meet their needs

Residential Post-16 settings

  • Additional points to think about and questions to ask:
  • Find out what links there will be between the Post 16 setting and you, such as home visits or letters/emails.
  • Find out how and when you will be contacted about progress.
  • Find out how and when you will be contacted if there is a problem.
  • Arrange to meet the person who will be responsible for the overall care of young people out of Post 16 setting hours.
  • Visit the dormitory or bedroom the young person will use.
  • What privacy will the young person have?
  • Will the young person know who to go to if they are worried or have a problem? What are the safeguarding strategies?
  • What arrangements are there for the young person to telephone home or receive telephone calls?
  • What arrangements are there if the young person needs attention or is ill during the night?
  • What are the bathroom facilities and routines?
  • What arrangements are there for medical care?
  • What opportunities will there be for the young person to join out of Post 16 setting activities, for example youth groups, sport, other leisure activities?
  • Will the young person get the same opportunities to shop, cook, clean and relax as he or she would at home?
  • If it is proposed that they remain at Post 16 setting over the weekend, what would be the range and programme of activities?
  • It is important that you are happy with the residential arrangements for the young person and that you are confident that the Post 16 setting can meet their needs

For further support

For further support the Devon, Information, Advice & Support (DIAS) can help.

This team offer legally based and easily accessible impartial information and advice, to support children and young people aged 0 – 25 years, with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents and carers.

They can be contacted at:
Devon Information, Advice and Support Service,
Great Moor House,
Bittern Road,

Tel: 01392 383080

How to find information about Post-16 settings

Devon County Council:

Devon’s Local Offer website:

The Post 16 setting website - this is a very useful source of information which would usually include a statement about ethos and values, the Post 16 setting’s admission policy, the Post 16 setting’s special educational needs policy, links to Ofsted reports. Post 16 settings may also include information about examination results and where young people go after they leave Post 16 setting.

The Post 16 setting prospectus - this will contain a range of information about the Post 16 setting. You can request a copy from the Post 16 setting.

The Post 16 setting Ofsted report - this is a detailed report from the Office for Standards in Education. They also produce summaries which give a useful overall picture of a Post 16 setting. You can access the latest Ofsted report from the Post 16 setting’s website or from the Ofsted website at

Government Education Statistics -these are published by the Department for Education (DfE) and are available at:


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