Apply for or choose a school if your child has SEND

Most children with special educational needs attend mainstream schools. If your child has more severe or complex needs they may have their needs met at a mainstream school with more specialised provision or a special school.

Applying for school

If your child has SEND but does not have an education health and care (EHC) plan you should apply for a school place in the same way as other parents.

If an EHC needs assessment has been started for your child, but is not yet complete, then you should follow the normal process for applying for a school place. If you don't apply for a place and we don’t issue an EHC plan for your child, you may miss out on a place at one of your preferred schools.

Applying for school if your child has an EHC plan

If your child has an EHC plan the admissions process is slightly different. Schools must give priority to requests for a place for children and young people with EHC plans. The process is managed by your SEN Area Team.

Most children and young people with an EHC plan can attend their local mainstream school.

Choosing a school

Before selecting a school you may find it helpful to:

  • read their OFSTED report
  • read the school’s SEN Policy and SEND Information Report, both should be available on their website
  • attend open days or evenings
  • contact the school directly to arrange a visit.

Before you visit a school you may find it helpful to think about the things you want to find out and talk about. If your child has an EHC plan you could take a copy of this and the latest annual review paperwork with you.

Ask questions to find out how the school can meet your child’s needs.

  • How will my child be supported in school?
  • How is support organised?
  • What equipment and materials will be available?
  • Is there a breakfast club or after school activities my child can be involved in?
  • How will the school keep me informed of my child’s progress?

Mainstream schools

Most children and young people with an EHC plan can attend their local mainstream school.

There are some things you should think about when deciding what school you would like your child to attend.

  • If the school has experience of children with similar needs to your child and how they have supported children with similar needs.
  • What the school's special educational needs policy is.
  • How the SENCO makes sure all staff are aware of children’s needs and how they are best supported in the classroom and during breaks.
  • How your child would be supported in class, during breaks and lunchtime.
  • How you would be involved in decisions about your child, for example, support or provision.
  • How the school will communicate with you about your child.

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

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.

Use our school search to find a mainstream school.

Special schools or mainstream schools with specialist provision

Normally only children and young people with the most complex or severe needs attend a special school.

For children and young people who need significantly more support than can be provided within a mainstream class it may be appropriate for them to attend a mainstream school with additional provision rather than a special school. This is called special resourced provision (SRP). All the children and young people who attend special schools or special resourced provisions have an EHC plan.

Find a special school or a school with specialist provision.

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.

We also have some further information and advice to help with starting or changing school.