Preparing for Adulthood (PFA) – More than just the National Curriculum

In the Primary National Curriculum it says…

“The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The national curriculum forms one part of the school curriculum.”

Page 5, Primary National Curriculum


“Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life”

Page 5, Primary National Curriculum

Schools have some freedom to choose what their curriculum looks like. The biggest factor on what this looks like is how schools are being held to account, using outcomes such as SATs and GCSEs. These national assessments drive school curriculums and in some schools, everything is focused on these assessments as they want to be, or are pressured to be, at the top of the league tables. There is a big conflict between league tables and assessment outcomes and preparing pupils for opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences of later life. Some believe that higher outcomes in Maths and English help achieve this, others believe that pupils need more skills than just English and Maths to be successful in their life (whatever that looks like), being able to be part of the world and contribute.

It is the school’s job to balance these requirements. For the majority of pupils, schools will prioritise outcomes in English and Maths as this is what is expected. When it comes to pupils with SEND, schools should change that balance. The higher the level of need, the more the balance swings towards the skills the pupil actually needs and are relevant for their future life.

Qualifications are seen by the Government as the key to employment and success, but what if the pupil is unable to use those skills outside of school? Are they able to travel independently, do they have the social, interaction and communication skills to access work? How is their physical and mental health? The Government has recognised the importance of mental health for all staff and pupils, they still have a long way to go in prioritising what skills and opportunities are important for pupils with SEND.

Individualised Curriculums

For pupils with SEND, there is much higher need for a different curriculum to support them and to help them prepare for opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. This is not just differentiating the curriculum to their ability level, this is identifying the skills and opportunities they need to prepare them for their life ahead. This is where Preparing for Adulthood (PFA) comes in, a framework to help pupils and young people prepare for adult life.

“Being supported towards greater independence and employability can be life-transforming for children and young people with SEN. This support needs to start early and should centre around the child or young person’s own aspirations, interests and needs. All professionals working with them should share high aspirations and have a good understanding of what support is effective in enabling children and young people to achieve their ambitions.”

Page 122, SEND Code of Practice 2015

There are 4 areas within PFA and between them they cover a wide range of skills that are crucial to help young people be independent and seek employment;

  • Employment,
  • Independent Living,
  • Community Inclusion and
  • Health.

Most children acquire knowledge and skills in these areas through their home life and school. Pupils with SEND are likely to miss some of these opportunities for a variety of reasons. PFA should be part of every pupil with SEND’s curriculum, but it isn’t always. It is important that children with SEND are given the skills they need for their future life. If a pupil has an EHCP, then PFA is part of the process, as set out in the SEND Code of Practice. Parents and pupils are asked about what they want their future to look like, their plan should help achieve these aspirations and the education, health and social care professionals should be working to support these aspirations.

NEW – B Squared Preparing for Adulthood Framework

We have created a small Preparing for Adulthood framework that covers the 4 PFA areas. It uses the same level structure as the Progression Steps, so goes from a developmental stage of around 18 months to around the developmental stage of a typical 15-year-old. It is not a big framework, it is not designed to be used on its own to support older learners. It is a light touch to be used alongside a subject based curriculum to the end of key stage 3, it works well with our Primary Steps or Progression Steps frameworks. Our Steps 4 Life framework is a fuller framework designed for pupils in key stage 4 and above to support functional academic skills, life skills and employability skills. Pupils can transition from the PFA framework to Steps 4 Life and all the skills they have already acquired are automatically transferred.

The framework starts at only £75 (for up to 30 pupils) for schools already using our Connecting Steps assessment software.

Preparing for adulthood

Download Sample pages

Steps 4 Life

Our Steps 4 Life framework covers functional academic skills, independence/life skills and employability skills. It is primarily designed to be used from Key Stage 4 onwards. Some individuals will be working towards independent living and employment while others will be working towards semi-independent living and others will be in supported living. Steps 4 Life covers a wide range of areas and a wide ability range, it includes 7 levels that are the equivalent of P1 to P8 which replace the old Milestones, Entry Levels 1, 2 and 3 and RQF Level 1 and 2.

Individuals could be assessed using the Steps 4 Life framework for 11 years or more, from 14 to 25 years old. Professionals need to show progress within these areas as part of the EHCP process. The Steps 4 Life framework can show how an individual has developed existing skills, learnt new skills or has used skills in different contexts. A student may learn to tell the time within Maths, but then apply that skill within daily routines, journeys, socialising and within other areas. Some individuals can transfer skills easily, for others the transference can take longer to embed.

Want to find out more about preparing for adulthood (PFA)?

Book a FREE online meeting to find out how the framework can help prepare learners for life.

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