Personalised Transition

Radical extension of personalisation proves possible giving young people with disabilities and their families a totally new level of control over their life after school.

Release | 08.03.10

Personalised Transition is a new report, commissioned by the Yorkshire & Humber Region, describes a radical new reform of public services. The report describes and evaluates the success of a new model of personalised transition to help disabled children leave school and move into adult life. But the implications of this reform go much wider, suggesting the possibility of radical reforms in health care and education.

Developed in Sheffield by Talbot Specialist School, in partnership with Sheffield City and NHS Sheffield, this model is the most radical form of personalisation in the UK. The model was first implemented in 2007 and is now being extended across the whole of the City. 


As one mother, Katrina Ellershaw, puts it:

“Jonathan’s started to do things I would never have dreamed he could do. Having choice and control has been a positive, life changing experience for all the family, especially Jonathan.”

Cath Roff, Director of Social Services in Sheffield says:

“This is an innovative and holistic approach which puts young people and their families in the driving seat. It focuses on the young person as a citizen with a contribution to make, rather than just becoming a service user.”

The report’s author Alison Cowen says:

“We have seen young people flourish as they and are their families take increased control over their lives, their support and their journey out of school and into adult life. There is still a long way to go, but these first years seem to have been extraordinarily successful for everyone involved.”

Pippa Murray, founder of ibk initiatives and a national expert on the transition process say:

“Transition often goes badly because the voice of the young person and their family get lost in the complexity of different systems, different rules and different professionals. Personalised transition, by starting from the family’s perspective, enables us to limit the complexity and focus on helping people get better lives.”  

 Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform says:

“Never before has there been such a radical approach. If people can take control of social care, health care and education budgets and their lives improve then this has implications for the whole welfare state and over £250 billon of government spending that is currently locked into those services.”

Summary of the innovation

Personalised Transition is a system for enabling young people with complex needs to leave school and to achieve active citizenship within their communities its four key elements are:

  1. Family Leadership: Young people and families should be recognised as the appropriate leaders for planning and developing the education and support that the young people need as they begin their adult life. 
  2. Curriculum for Citizenship: Schools must work with the  young person to prepare them for active citizenship, helping them to personalise their learning experience, with a real and positive focus on all that life has to offer once school ends. 
  3. Coordinated Expert Support: Expert professional support is vital, but it must be better coordinated, simplified and appropriate to the needs of the young person and their family so that there is not a confusion of different professional services.
  4. Individual Budgets: It is important that families are given early information about the funding they will be entitled to before the young person leaves school. This means families can plan flexible and creative services and it also means there is no longer ambiguity about the responsibilities of education, health and social care.

Although these may seem like commonsense improvements to the current system they are in fact a huge step forward from older models which did not given people control, information or the right kinds of support.

The Report: Personalised Transition

Author: Alison Cowen

Editors: Simon Duffy & Pippa Murray

Publisher: Centre for Welfare Reform, in association with ibk initiatives

Commissioner: Yorkshire & Humber Region

Publication date: 8th March 2010

Available at:


Alison Cowen (Author)

Alison is a freelance researcher who has worked for the Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, Norah Fry Research Centre, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities and Inclusion North. 

Simon Duffy (Co-Editor and Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform)

Simon is Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform. He founded and led Inclusion Glasgow and In Control and is the author of Keys to Citizenship. In 2008 he was awarded the RSA’s Prince Albert Medal for his work on personalisation. 

Pippa Murray (Co-Editor and Founder of ibk initiatives)

Founder of ibk initiatives, Pippa focuses on using the voices of disabled children, young people and their families as a key tool for organizational development. She has a PhD in education and the support needs of disabled families.

Centre for Welfare Reform

The Centre for Welfare Reform is an independent research and development network. Its aim is to transform the current welfare state so that it supports citizenship, family & community. It works by developing and sharing social innovations and influencing government and society to achieve necessary reforms.

ibk initiatives

ibk initiatives is a research, consultancy, training and development agency whose aims are to promote the inclusion of disabled children, disabled young people and their families in their local communities, and to challenge a disabling world that denies their right to an ordinary existence.

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