Supported Internships and the SEN reforms

Supported Internships and the SEN reforms

The Government is transforming the system for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN), including those who are disabled, so that services consistently support the best outcomes for them. The Children and Families Bill extends the SEN system from birth to 25, giving children, young people and their parents greater control and choice in decisions and ensuring needs are properly met. It takes forward the reform programme set out in Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability - Progress and next steps by:

* replacing old statements with new birth-to-25yr education, health and care plans (EHCPs);
* offering families personal budgets; and
* improving cooperation between all the services that support children and their families, particularly requiring local authorities and health authorities to work together.

A new Code of Practice has been published following consultation.

Supported Internships

Supported Internships are for young people with severe learning difficulties and/or disabilities aged 16 to 24 with a Statement of Special Educational Needs, a Learning Difficulty Assessment, or an Education, Health and Care Plan who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so. Put simply, they are a way of using education funding to secure jobs.

BASE can offer a full package of support to organisations looking to establish or develop Supported Internships provision. Contact us for details.

Here's Kathy Melling talking about supported internships. You can find a range of videos on the Preparing for Adulthood Youtube channel.

Supported Internships began around 2009 when a number of sites were funded by the Labour Government at the time to adopt the Project Search model. The cost and lack of flexibility of Project Search led to a number of pilot sites going their own way. The last round of internships pilots were officially announced in 2013 but pilot work had begun previously. Internships can now be offered by any further education college or school.

Supported Internships are work-based learning placements within mainstream employment settings. The aim is to secure a job at the end of the placement. Placements should last over 6 months and normally would be at least 20 hours per week. Generally, they involve three rotations i.e. the learner would try out three work roles within the company. The college provides group learning around the placement, often at the start and end of the day, but sometimes through day release. Many colleges contract with supported employment agencies to provide the job coaching element of the course, though some are doing this themselves. Employers also play a key role in the internships. The key is to develop a strong partnership between employer, college, supported employment provider and the local authority. Any of these partners can lead the partnership.

Jobcoaching support can now be funded through Access to Work and further information is available on our Knowledge page.

A good example of an employer-led Supported Internships programme is the one run by Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust - confusingly, they refer to it as supported traineeships but traineeships are something totally different. Other examples include the Project Search site at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth run by Pluss and the internships programme run by EmployAbility in Surrey.

They are funded through the education system using Element 1 (core funding) and Element 2 (additional learning support) funding. Local authorities can contribute through the use of Element 3 (exceptional additional learning support) funds. Further Education funding has changed substantially in 2013-14 and it no longer funds qualifications but instead funds study programmes. This means that study programmes can be tailored according to the needs of individual learners. Access to Work can now be used to fund job coaching within supported internship programmes and you'll find guidance on our Knowledge pages. In 2014, the DfE published guidance on welfare benefit entitlement for students undertaking Supported Internships.

In June 2017, the Department for Education published updated guidance on Supported Internships. The Government published an evaluation of supported internship pilots in December 2013. In 2020, DfE commissioned Cooper Gibson to produce a research report into how Supported Internships are delivered

The Preparing for Adulthood website has some excellent resources on Supported Internships including guidance for young people and families on routes into work.

We also have Supported Internship resources on our Knowledge pages and you'll find some videos on our YouTube Channel.