It is "virtually impossible" to get youngsters with additional support needs into jobs after school, new research into transitions has found.
Even when employers were required to take on a number of people with a disability, youngsters with more complex or visible problems, such as cerebral palsy or autism, were likely to miss out, it found. And the range of employment available was becoming more limited still, due to the recession.
But researchers discovered that HMIE was bucking the trend by offering work experience in its offices to pupils with severe and complex needs from a Glasgow school. A spokesperson said it hoped to have a pilot programme running next year.
In their research, Jean Kane, from Glasgow University's faculty of education, and Gillian MacIntyre, from the Glasgow School of Social Work at Strathclyde University, focused on the post-school transitions for ASN pupils in one Scottish authority, described as a "Neet hotspot" by the Scottish Executive in 2006.
In special schools, there was one designated member of staff with responsibility for transitions, but in mainstream schools responsibility was "more diffused and, in some, unclear even to those involved in the process". They wrote: "Headteachers had been asked to forward the questionnaire to those responsible for transitions, but blank returns were received from staff who disagreed with the official school view that they had responsibilities in this area."
Researchers also found the kind and amount of information passed on about pupil needs was "very patchy". Around 80 per cent of Scottish school leavers with ASN move on to college after school.
Some interviewees pointed out that a lack of compatibility between ICT systems used in schools and colleges had hindered the transfer of information about pupils. Where links with colleges were strong, this was often down to personal relationships, researchers found.
Since their research was conducted in one authority, the researchers pointed out it was "limited in its capacity to inform conclusions about the national situation". However, A Curriculum for Excellence offered hope that provision for all 16 to 18 year-olds would be purposeful, engaging and relevant, they suggested.