Careers - Special Educational Needs & Disability

iCeGS have collaborated with researchers in the University of Derby’s Inclusion and SEND cluster

iCeGS have collaborated with researchers in the University of Derby’s Inclusion and SEND cluster to deliver a portfolio of work that focuses on careers and employment for children and young people (CYP) with disabilities.

Our work focuses on how careers education can support life transitions for people with disabilities.

We use the term ‘career’ flexibly to refer to traditional paid work and work transition but also to recognise that people with disabilities may not experience ‘paid’ employment in its traditional form. They may experience life as a career in different ways, for example, in transitions to independent living or through meaningful work in unpaid occupations where they contribute to their communities.

In this spirit, our definition of social inclusion and education is also broad and flexible to embrace. The specialist work we do in the field of careers and SEND uses the following constructs.

For us, social exclusion is modelled as the complex process by which people with learning disabilities can participate in society through being reciprocally active in its spaces. (e.g. political, physical, community), services (e.g. education, health, welfare), markets (e.g. employment, consumption, finance), and customs (e.g. sexuality, festivals, relationships, religion, arts). Similarly, the term education is widely interpreted to include formal and informal routes to learning (such as schooling, vocational training, post-compulsory education, health education, personal development, community projects and coaching) across the life course. This also includes professional education for those involved in supporting the careers of people with disabilities.

Past Projects

Young people described as having Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) face unique challenges in progressing from education to the world or work. But what does the evidence say about the impact and effectiveness of transition programmes?

This paper presents the evidence for transition programmes for young people with SEND with the aim of exploring what effective best practice looks like and identifying the impact of transition programmes.

The evidence suggests that transition programmes for those young adults with SEND can have a significant and observable impact on behaviour, attainment and progression.

Key features of the evidence include the importance of putting the individual with SEND and their family at the centre of transition programmes and the importance of facilitating supported work experience

Young Enterprise’s (YE) Team Programme (TP) aims to deliver an exciting, flexible enterprise journey for students aged 15 to 19 with mild to moderate learning difficulties or are studying for Entry Level or Level 1 qualifications. It is designed to aid the transition from education into independent living and employment, by developing life skills through the experience of working as a team to set up and run a business.

The University of Derby was commissioned by YE to evaluate the short and long-term impacts of TP on former students’ lives with an emphasis to exploring the voices of students, alumni and teachers who engaged with TP over last five years. The evaluation ran between October 2019 and July 2020. The research team was also asked to review the outcomes for young people undertaking TP, to see if these were similar to those outcomes described by other YE programmes.

About the evaluation, The evaluation employed a mixed methodology which focused on the experiences of teachers, student-alumni, and parents. The evaluation employed a wide range of data 5 collection methods, including using existing programme data, new survey data, and conversations with teachers, students, parents and one Area Manager. Using multiple methods allowed the research team to develop a deep understanding of the impact of TP on former students’ lives by comparing and combining information from different sources (i.e. teachers, parents, and students’ voices) which helped to ensure the validity of findings. With such a small sample size the findings cannot be readily generalised, however, they provide insight into the experiences and outcomes for young people and as such illuminate areas of good practice as well as possible areas for development that will aid TP.

Understanding the overall impact of TP

The 2016 evaluation study of TP ( Moore, Sahar, Robinson, & Hoare, 2016) found that the programme had a positive impact on young people, enhancing their knowledge and developing the positive attitudes and skills required for a smooth transition into employment, career management and independent living. As a result of the programme, young people improved resilience, confidence, communication skills, entrepreneurial activity, organisation skills, problem-solving, teamwork and financial capability. The current evaluation builds on the 2016 findings and expands its focus by investigating the short and long-term impact of TP on former students’ lives and its influence on their transition into further training, employment, and independent living.

The findings from this latest evaluation study show TP had not only enabled student-alumni to maintain the skills they had previously developed (Moore, Sahar, Robinson, & Hoare, 2016) but they had transferred those skills to other lessons and aspects of their lives in the community, college and employment. The evaluation’s key findings suggest that:

• TP is effective in helping students boost their confidence and enhance several enterprising skills such as communication skills, self-confidence, teamwork, monetary skills, self-improvement, and employability skills.

• TP is successful in enabling students to improve other competences such as independent living skills, effective citizenship, the management of change and transitions, their understanding the world of work and media and digital literacy. 

▪ Survey and interview data from all stakeholders indicate that TP has a short and long-term impact on former students’ lives as it both enables students enhance a set of entrepreneurial and independent skills and helps them to transfer those skills to other lessons as well as for personal purposes out in the community, college and employment.

▪ The study shows evidence of TP’s effectiveness in facilitating former students’ transition into college, part-time employment and supported living. ▪ Finally, although TP contributed to the improvement of independent living skills, findings suggest that they were enhanced less than other competences.

Finally, although TP contributed to the improvement of independent living skills, findings suggest that they were enhanced less than other competences.

To view the final report: Young Enterprise Evaluating the impact of the Team Programme on the outcomes for student-alumni

This project is being delivered by careers and SEND experts in iCeGS and the Inclusion and SEND Research Cluster. It was commissioned by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Leeds City Enterprise Partnership and the SEND Careers Hub. Its aim is to support practitioners in the region to develop thriving SEND alumni communities in support of CEIAG.

It involves the following dimensions:

  1. Online training for practitioners delivering Careers Education, Information and Guidance.

We have designed and are delivering a training programme with the following AIMS: 

  • To inspire practitioners to prioritise the building of a thriving SEND alumni network in their learning communities
  • To give practitioners the knowledge and tools they need to make this happen.
  • To give practitioners the knowledge, tools and resources they need to inspire others to prioritise a SEND alumni network and help them develop it.

The training comprised of e-learning tasks and a follow-up webinar. Materials for the training will be published on in 2021.

  1. Resources for careers practitioners.

We have developed, in consultation with schools in the SEND Careers Hub, a set of downloadable resources and guides to support schools and colleges who are developing their SEND alumni practice.

This we will be publicly available at in 2021.

iCeGS has invited peer-reviewed papers from authors whose research explores careers and SEND. From this, a series of cutting edge occasional papers representing current thinking on the theme of careers and SEND is assembling. The scope of the papers is broad, to reflect our broad conception of career and social inclusion for this group.


Blake, H., Hanson, J., & Clark, L. (2021). 'The importance of an inclusive alumni network for ensuring effective transitions into employment and future destinations for people with learning disabilities'. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, pp. 1–11. 

Hanson, J., Robinson, D., and Codina, G. (2021). 'Supported internships as a vehicle for broadening and deepening the social inclusion of people with learning disabilities'. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, pp. 1-36. 


Dimitrellou, D., and Moore, N. (2020). Evaluating the impact of the Team Programme on the outcomes for student-alumni'. Derby: University of Derby.

Robinson, D., Codina, G., Hanson, J., Dimitrellou, E and Qureshi, S. (2020). Careers coaching for social justice: the case of school leadership and inclusive education for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Derby: University of Derby.


Robinson, D., Moore, N. and Harris, C. (2019) 'The impact of books on social inclusion and development and well-being among children and young people with severe and profound learning disabilities: recognising the unrecognised cohort'. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, (1), pp. 1-14