Choosing a primary 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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Arrange a visit 

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

  • the layout of the school is suitable for your child
  • there is bright lighting or excessive noise that might trigger sensory differences
  • your child will be able to cope with the class and group sizes
  • your child will cope with the playground and lunchtimes, moving around the school
  • how inclusive the school is to children with SEND
  • how you would take your child to 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.  You will know your child well, but you can also ask the views of professionals previously involved in their education.

If your child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP) and you want your child to attend a specialist school or one with enhanced learning provision, 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 

Once you have decided which school you would like your child to go to, you must apply for a primary school place.  Further details on how to apply for a primary school are available on the council’s website.

You will still need to apply for a place even if your child has started the education, health and care needs assessment process.

You can read our article on transition between education settings for guidance on how to settle a child into primary 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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