Applying for or choosing schools if your child has SEND

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 a statement of special educational needs or education health and care (EHC) plan you apply for a primary school place in the same way as other parents.

If your child has a statement of special educational needs or EHC plan, the school named in it 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 place and your child doesn't get an EHC plan 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 EHC plan and you're unsure if a school is suitable for them, you can talk to your named officer.

Find a mainstream school

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 deal with particular needs.

Our special schools and specialist units in  mainstream schools only admit children with EHC plans (statements) whose needs are very severe and complex.

Find a special school or school with special unit.

Choosing a secondary school for a child with an EHC plan

Your child's EHC plan must name a secondary school by 15 February in the year that they're due to start secondary school.

If the school you want your child to go to is a grammar (selective) school, then you must speak to your child's primary school about taking the Kent Test.

Read more about naming a school on your child's EHC plan.

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.