Choosing a school for your child with additional needs

Deciding about your child’s education is an important decision that you have to make.  It is even harder to make when your child has special educational needs or a disability (SEND)

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Researching a school

Before you decide on the school it is worth checking the school’s website to read policies and the SEN report that all schools should display on their website.

More information about finding and comparing schools can be found on the Gov.uk website. 

It is important to visit schools to look at the teaching environment and consider:

  • how inclusive the school is to children with SEND, how welcoming is the environment, what adjustments can the school make to respond to your child needs
  • how you would take your child to school
  • what is the layout of the school, is it suitable for your child especially if your child has physical needs
  • how your child will cope with the playground and lunchtimes, moving around the school

When you visit a school you should ask to meet with the school Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) to discuss your child’s needs and how they would be met. Each school will display their SEND information report on their website which shows how they will support children with special educational needs and a disability.

Type of school 

Most children with special educational needs will attend a mainstream school, but for some a specialist setting may be more suitable. 

If your child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP) and you want your child to attend a specialist school or a resource base, this should be made clear as part of the EHCP annual review process.

The local authority will always seek to place your child at the school you have chosen, unless it would be: 

  • unsuitable for your child’s age, ability, aptitude or SEN; or
  • not compatible with the efficient education of others or the efficient use of resources

Decided on your school 

If your child is at the SEN Support stage and you have decided which school you would like your child to go to, you must apply for either a primary school place or secondary school place.

If your child is being assessed as part of an EHC needs assessment you would still have to apply for a school place if the assessment process will not be concluded before the admissions deadline.

If your child has an EHCP the school/education placement can be discussed as part of the annual review.

You can read our article on planning for transitions between education settings for guidance on how to settle a child into school.

Supportive Parents are the SEND advice and support service for South Gloucestershire. Their website gives details of what they do to help parents and young people.

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