Careers Education for Home-Educated Students with SEND
The author of this article, Eloise Barnett, is a teacher and parent of an autistic/ADHD teenager who has been unable to attend school for three years, she is also the Director for SEND at ‘Spark Careers’.
Parents and carers who have ‘chosen’ to educate their children at home, often face unique challenges, especially when their children have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Whilst home education can be a fantastic alternative for young people who don’t thrive in traditional school settings, we know that they often encounter obstacles which require special support to build the skills and confidence they need to enter into further education and the world of work.
This is why careers education is so vital; it can make a huge difference to a young person’s life chances. It has been said that students with SEND are the ones who benefit most from careers education because it helps them to work out what they want to do in the future, explores what they’re good at and sets them on a path to achieving their dreams with newfound confidence. However, experience has shown that careers education comes with its own set of challenges, including the need for support which addresses students’ specific needs and aspirations.
One of the great things about home education is that it allows for personalised support and that applies to careers education as it can be tailored to meet each child’s unique needs. We know that many of these young people struggle with self-confidence, but careers education gives them a chance to explore their interests and strengths, empowering them to set goals with confidence.
We need to ensure that young people are helped to make informed decisions by introducing various career options, educational pathways, and job opportunities. This knowledge is essential if they are to make the appropriate choices that align with their abilities and passions. Secondly, they need to be helped to prepare for the transition from home education to further education, training, or employment. This transition can be particularly challenging which means it requires the proper preparation.
In today’s world, as we know, technology has become a powerful tool in education and career development. With the availability of smartphones, which most young people have and the latest app technology, the barriers of distance or geographical location disappear, which is especially beneficial for home educated young people.
There are many sources of careers advice and activities which home educating families can use for free or a small cost. Many national bank websites have activities and information around budgeting and independent living skills: Barclays offer resources on finances and careers: https://www.barclays.co.uk/digital-confidence/lifeskills/, further careers resources for home educated students can be found at: https://www.youthemployment.org.uk/home-education-uk-resources/, whilst the Careers and Enterprise Company have a directory of resources specifically for SEND that are free to access: https://resources.careersandenterprise.co.uk/resources-send-specialists
Careers app’s can offer several advantages. They can enable real-time tutoring with specialised resources, all from the comfort of home, and allows for connections with others, supporting interaction when it’s appropriate. Furthermore, they can make live engagement with employers possible, giving young people real-life encounters with support and safety. So, even if they’re remote learners, students with SEND can engage with new people on their own terms.
Additionally, some apps can provide secure direct messaging services, allowing young people to connect with careers advisors whenever they need assistance, ensuring personalised guidance and support. They can also receive timely information about open days, work experience, training programmes, job fairs, and other opportunities, ensuring they don’t miss out on important events. It also allows careers advisors to provide emotional support and encouragement, which is so important in helping to build resilience and motivation as young people navigate their educational and career journey.
Careers education then, is a vital part of students’ development. It equips them to make informed choices about their future, boosts their confidence, and prepares them for the transition to further education or the workforce. Using technology can ensure they receive the personalised support they need, making their educational journey more inclusive and successful.
By acknowledging the importance of careers education and embracing innovative solutions, we can help home-educated students with SEND to achieve their potential and set them on the pathway to fulfilled lives as active members of the community.