Applying for and choosing schools if your child has special educational needs


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Most children with special educational needs can be taught in mainstream schools. If your child has more severe or complex needs they may need to go to a special school or school with a special unit. 

Applying For School

If your child doesn't have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you can apply for a primary school place in the same way as other parents.

If your child has an EHCP, the school named in their Plan must offer them a place.

If your child is being assessed for special educational needs you should follow the standard process. If you don't apply for a school place through admissions and your child doesn't get an EHCP you may miss out on a place at one of your preferred schools.

Choosing a Mainstream School

You should find out:

  • whether the school has experience of children with similar needs and what strategies have been effective
  • what the school's special educational needs policy is
  • how the SENCO passes information about children to teaching staff
  • how your child would be supported in class
  • how you'd be involved in your child's progress and development.

If your child has an EHCP and you're unsure if a school is suitable for them, you can talk to your allocated EHC Coordinator or SEN Service.

Choosing a School

Every school publishes details about how it supports pupils with special educational needs.


Choosing a Special School or School With Special Unit

Special schools only take children who have a particular type of educational need such as visual impairment or physical disability. Some mainstream schools have special units to meet particular needs.

Our special schools and specialist units in mainstream schools only admit children with EHCPs whose needs are very severe and complex.

Choosing a Secondary School For a Child / Young Person With an EHCP

The local authority must name a secondary school by 15th February in the year that your child is due to start secondary school.

Someone from your child's new secondary school will come to your child's year 6 annual review meeting to discuss what will need to happen when your child transfers.

Starting School

When you know what school your child will be going to you can speak to the headteacher or SENCO about your child’s needs. This will help the school to decide how to best support your child.

Page last reviewed: 24/03/2024

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