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A woman with dark hair and glasses and a teenage boy look at a laptop screen
Photo credit: Julie Howden/ARC

New app launched to help school leavers with additional support needs transition into adulthood

Posted 22.06.23 by Alice Hinds

A new app has been launched to help young people with additional support needs navigate the transition into adulthood.

Developed by health and social care charity ARC Scotland (click here for more), with funding from the Scottish Government, the Compass digital platform aims to be a “one-stop shop” for young people as they leave school, providing support and advice for students, as well as parents and carers.

For many young people, leaving school means a straightforward move to further education or the workplace but for those with disabilities and additional support needs, planning for the future is more complex, and many people require accessible, appropriate information and tailored support packages.

ARC Scotland says transition planning is a “huge part” of enabling the young people it works with to get the right support when they need it – and free access to Compass will play a key role in making the steps before and after leaving school more manageable for Scots aged 14 to 25.

Mum-of-three Alyson Smart (pictured below), from central Scotland, has already been making use of Compass, and says the app has been particularly useful as her son moves into sixth year of high school.

“We asked to get involved in the trial of Compass and have already found it invaluable,” she explained. “Trying to find the right information for children like mine as they move towards adulthood is extremely challenging.

"In an ideal world we would know who to speak to and where to go but life with two young people who have additional support needs is busy and with Compass, all the information is in the one place.

A woman with dark hair and glasses sits on the sofa with her teenage son as they look at a tablet computer

Photo credit: Julie Howden/ARC Scotland

"I’ve found myself sitting at midnight being guided towards the right places on Compass. It’s really easy to use. You complete one task and move to the next. My son, who has autism and a moderate learning disability, has used it too and he finds it very straightforward. It’s worded nicely also and there is no negative language.”

As well as supplying essential information for users, the platform also gathers feedback and statistics to enable local authorities to improve practice, and forms part of ARC Scotland’s work to make transitions smoother, identify gaps in provision, and provide better support to empower young people who require additional assistance to live fulfilled and independent lives.

James Fletcher, director of ARC Scotland, said: “Young people with additional support needs and their carers face all sorts of challenges as they move towards adulthood.

“Finding the right information at the right time is critical and this is something which we, as an organisation which advocates for people with disabilities, have been working hard to address in the past few years.

“Compass was trialled with young people, as well as their parents and carers. They have helped to create the finished product to make sure it covers the things most important to them.

“Those involved have also used Compass to give feedback to their local authority about their own experiences of transitions and how they can be improved. We believe this is a significant and pioneering resource which will pave the way for other interactive platforms.”

For more information and to access Compass, click here to visit the website:

New project will hear from young people with additional needs about what works for them in transition to adulthood

25 February 2022

Children in Scotland is partnering with the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) and Contact, the charity supporting families with disabled children, on a new inclusion project.

Time to Talk Next Steps Scotland will launch soon and explore what works to support young people with additional needs as they transition into adulthood.

The project, supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, will be co-produced with young people, alongside parents and carers.

Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland’s Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“We are delighted to be partners in the Time to Talk Next Steps Scotland project alongside NDTi and Connect.

“We know how important the period of transition to adulthood is for all young people and, for those with additional support needs in particular, how vital it is that person-centred support for transitions is available.

“We're really excited to learn from NDTi's expertise in this area, and help bring this programme to Scotland, working with young people with additional support needs to make sure it is designed and delivered in a way that fits their needs and priorities.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still, said:

“National Lottery funding can make amazing things happen in local communities across the country.

"This project, delivered by NDTi in partnership with Children in Scotland and Connect, is a great example of community activity in action, showing just what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause or to help others.

“National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is helping to support this vital work and to help communities thrive.”

More details will be announced soon.

Click here for more information about NDTI

Click here for more information about Contact

Click here for more information about the National Lottery Community Fund

To find out more about the project, email Amy Woodhouse:

Change that leads to better lives

National Development Team for Inclusion works to enable people at risk of exclusion to live the life they choose

Click here for more

For families with disabled children

Contact supports families, brings them together and helps them take action for others

Click here for more

The National Lottery Community Fund

The fund distributes more than £600m a year to communities across the UK

Click here for more

Inclusion Ambassadors

We manage a group of young people with additional needs who share their views and advocate for change

Click here for more