University of Edinburgh

The Transition Processes for Young Deaf People

Presented on Wednesday 11 November 2009

Marion Reid, Fife Council


  • Establish a sense of the term, Transition and what it means for deaf children and young people
  • To share Fife's experiences of transition processes and planning from the early years and throughout school
  • To provide the opportunity for you to discuss and share your experiences and expectations
  • To highlight together how we might improve upon and enhance the support around transition


Definition according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

Transition n The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another Journey from infancy and on in to adulthood

Our role

We have a role to play in ensuring that the journey which takes the children through the early years, on into their school years and on to post school is as informed, as smooth and as stress free as possible.

Main transition phases

When people think of transition phases they often only think of the main transitional stages

  • preschool to nursery
  • nursery to primary
  • primary to secondary
  • secondary to further education, training or employment

Transition phases: periods of change which require meticulous planning, preparation and robust processes to ensure a smooth transition and instil confidence in the pupil, family and school to move on and succeed in the next stage.

Other important Transitional considerations

  • moving class to class
  • moving to new schools
  • changes of staff
  • changes in audiological equipment
  • changes to methods of support etc

All of which can have an impact on a child's success if the transitions are not well supported.

Our role: to work in partnership with parents and carers and their youngsters, while engaging with colleagues in education, health, social services and other statutory and voluntary agencies, to ensure families are fully informed and supported through the changes and choices available to them.

Influencing best practice

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, legislates for a more joined up approach to educational transition planning to allow all of Scotlandís children to have a smooth, well thought out experience. The Code of Practice dedicates a whole chapter (Chapter 5) to Transitions with the subsequent chapter dedicated to working with children and families.

GIRFEC, Getting it Right for Every Child will further support and ensure continued improvement in this area. Getting it right for every child is a national approach to helping children and young people in Scotland. The approach sets out guidelines, and possible new legislation, that will help families and professionals to work better together with children and young people, and to give children and families more say in the help that they get.

Curriculum for Excellence (2004) in order to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: all children and young people need to be safe, nurtured, active, healthy, achieving, included, respected and responsible. It is vital therefore that they are fully included in an appropriate way in the transition processes and planning and their views are sought and taken into consideration.

The 2003 'For Scotland's Children' report highlighted the problems caused by a lack of joint working across children's services. The Scottish Government aims to improve integration of children's services.

Integration underpins programmes such as Changing Lives which is the five year programme to build capacity and continuous improvement in social work services.

In addition, many local integrated children's services plans have been constructed around the key themes of the vision and it has become embedded in local policies and strategies.


  • Getting it right for every child will help practitioners and organisations to remove the obstacles that can block children's paths on their journey from birth to adulthood.
  • Children and young people are central to Getting it right for every child. The involvement and contribution of children, young people and families is a fundamental principle of the programme.
  • The overarching concept of Getting it right for every child is a common, coordinated approach across all agencies that supports the delivery of appropriate, proportionate and timely help to all children as they need it.

The principles of GIRFEC

  • a more child-centred system
  • heightened focus on the child's needs
  • a greater focus on effective outcomes for children
  • more effective collaboration between agencies
  • a more integrated approach across agencies
  • the reduction of institutional, cultural and procedural barriers to joint working

Highland Pathfinder

In Highland, the approach is to work across all areas of need and services starting with newborn children moving on through early years and school transitions. With a focus on helping all children and young people and improving outcomes, the aim is to simplify processes, develop shared practice tools and protocols, break down professional barriers and help children no matter how simple or complex their needs.

Are parents and carers sensing a change and improvement in services and support?

Recent research undertaken for the NDCS by the Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity at the University of Edinburgh and published in April 2009 with the focus 'The Impact of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland) Act 2004 on Deaf Children' found that in the postal survey more than half the parents and carers(60% of the 128 who responded all with children between 3 -18) reported satisfactory transitions from nursery to primary and all but two parents were also satisfied with arrangements for moving from primary to secondary. Those who were dissatisfied cited poor planning and lack of communication.

Of the parents and carers who were interviewed (19 with 24 deaf children), discussion of arrangements for transitions suggested that most parents think this is working well.

Transition processes and planning

I would like to focus on the transition processes and planning from the preschool and school years up to the transition into secondary.

From early diagnosis

  • Professionals are obliged to take cognisance of quality standards documentation as distributed by the Scottish Government and other bodies such as the National Deaf Children's Society.
  • Best practice in multi agency support and partnership working with parents is continuing to evolve and develop.

Quality Standards

  • Scottish Government quality standards documentation Quality Standards for Paediatric Audiology Services published April 2009
  • Quality Standards in the Early Years published by NDCS in January 2002.
  • Early Support materials: Monitoring Protocol for Deaf Babies and Children first published for use across England in 2004.

Current project

  • The (SSC) Scottish Sensory Centre, which is directly grant funded by the Scottish Government (Support for Learning), has set up an Early Years Hearing Impairment Focus Group as one of its core projects this year.
  • The group has the task of producing a set of national guidelines highlighting best practice in the early years.

Early Support teams

  • Care pathways
  • Multi-disciplinary team
  • Use of Early support materials
  • Use of developmental profiles to inform Family Service Plans
  • Person-centred

Key to best planning: core features

  • Supporting pupils and their families starts with listening carefully to what is important to them.
  • Those participants invited to the meeting are negotiated with the pupil and parents; this may involve members of the wider family support network and a restricted number of professionals who will work together in partnership.
  • Encourages and co-ordinates the active participation of relevant staff and, where appropriate support services.

Core features

  • Integrates assessment information from pupils, parents, school staff and support services.
  • The role of professionals is to help support the agreed action plan.
  • A key person is empowered to co-ordinate school support.
  • Everyone at the meeting has a chance to come up with ideas and suggestions.
  • Action planning is recorded in an open way and the plan made accessible to all participants - where appropriate using graphics and pictures as well as words.
  • Successful plans need a committed support team to follow up on agreed actions.
  • Pupils and parents are central in deciding with whom the plan is shared

Transition stages

  • Pre-school to nursery
  • Nursery to primary
  • Primary to secondary

All follow the same principle of early planning, providing and sharing information, empowering parents and pupils to make informed choices. Putting a supported transition programme in place.