Leaving school and moving on to further education or a job is a key transition in life, and for students with learning disabilities it is one of the most crucial. While some students can stay on in school to the age of 21, eventually they too must move on.
Here are some tips for setting up for a positive move when preparing to leave school(pdf):
- Start planning by the time they turn 14.
- Let your son or daughter drive the process, wherever possible (they might need support to do this).
- Identify your son’s or daughter’s interests, strengths and challenges in achieving their goals.
- Get together with a team of people from both your school and your community.
- Remember that what you might need as parents may be different from what your son or daughter might need.
- The plan for your son or daughter should identify the skills that they’ll need.
- The school can add activities into their classroom programme that will set your son or daughter up for life outside of school.
- The plan for your son or daughter should include making a portfolio in their last two years of school.
- Contact the relevant disability support agencies.
- Narrow the potential list of tertiary courses by considering the location, size of classes and atmosphere.
If you’re intending to take on further study or training, you may want to find out what financial assistance is available to you.
There are a number of grants and scholarships (PDF) that you may be eligible to apply for if you are considering entering tertiary education.
Workbridge may provide some financial help towards the cost of tertiary education through their Training Support Fund.
Study Link can help with student loans and allowances.
Work and Income (WINZ) offer Training Incentive Allowances which you may be eligible for.
They also fund Foundation Focused training opportunities to enable those at risk of long-term unemployment who have low qualifications to engage in further education and training. To access the programme you must be referred by Work and Income.
The Tertiary Education Commission funds a number of schemes for people who leave school with no or low qualifications. Their Youth Guarantee programme is aimed at students with special education needs and offers one year of fees free full-time study for vocationally focused training programmes for 16 and 17 year olds.
It’s also worth checking with your individual tertiary education provider to see if they know of any funding options that you might be eligible for.