Here are some things you might want to think about when you're deciding where to send your child.
Finding a school that will suit your child:
- Visit at least 2 schools so that you have something to compare
- Start with local schools
- Does the school already have all the things your child needs or could they be developed?
- Keep an open mind until you've looked at all the possibilities and spoken to the professionals involved with your child
Before visiting a school:
- Arrange to meet with the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo). If your child is transferring to secondary school you may like to meet the head of year. Ask them to bring the school SEN policy, governors’ annual report on SEN, school prospectus, anti-bullying policy and behaviour policy to the meeting.
- Look up the school’s most recent OFSTED report on the internet.
- Decide if you want to take someone with you – perhaps a friend or your independent parental supporter
- Take any relevant information about your child, such as their statement, any educational psychology advice and copies of individual education plans.
Asking the right questions
Make a checklist of things that are important to you and your child. This will help you to ask the right questions.
You might want to ask:
- "How is SEN provision organised in the school?"
- "Has the school got experience of children with similar needs to my own?"
- "What is your behaviour policy, and how does it apply to children with SEN?"
- "How do you deal with bullying?"
- "How will you involve me in my child's school life? Will you tell me about my child's progress?"
- "How will my child be involved in school trips/ activities/ holidays?"
- "What additional adult support is there? (e.g. learning support assistant, SENCo) Will they communicate my child's needs to their teachers?"
- "Do you have equipment or are you able to make adaptations?"
- "How is teaching organised? (e.g. whole class, small groups, 1 to 1)"
- "What SEN support services are there? (e.g. therapists, educational psychologist, literacy support, medical/ personal hygiene support)
“Expressing a preference” for a school if your child has a statement or EHCP
If your child has a statement of SEN or EHCP, you have the right to “express a preference” for the school you wish your child to attend.
This means that you can tell the council which of the maintained schools in your area you would like your child to go to.
A maintained school is a primary, secondary or special school managed by the local authority, but not an independent or private school.
The LA will consider your views when decisions are being made about which school can best meet your child's needs. If your preference is for a mainstream school (not a special school) the LA has to agree, unless it decides the school is unable to provide adequate support.
If you don't have a school preference and are happy to wait for the outcome of the process, you should let the LA know by contacting your child’s SEN Officer.
When to express your preference
If you're considering mainstream junior and secondary schools, you'll be asked to express a preference for a school in September of the year before they are due to move. You might therefore want to attend secondary open evenings in the autumn term of Year 5.