Questions to ask when choosing an education setting
Before you choose an education setting for your child or young person, you may find it helpful to think about the things you want to find out and talk about.
If your child or young person has special educational needs or disability (SEND) asking questions will determine how the education setting will best support your child or young person. If your child has an education health and care (EHC) plan you could also take your annual review paperwork with you when visiting.
If you have any concerns or issues, you should raise them as early as possible.
To start with:
- read their OFSTED report
- attend open days or evenings or contact them directly to arrange a visit.
Questions to ask the education setting
About the first day
- Where do I go on the first day?
- What time shall I get there?
- Where shall my child hang their coat and bag?
- What time does the day end?
- Who can collect my child?
Special educational needs support
- What specialist support is available?
- Do they have experience of supporting others with similar needs, and what strategies have been effective?
- How do staff pass information about your child or young person to other staff who may be teaching them?
- How do they communicate with pupils and parents and carers?
- Do they cover the graduated approach (assess, plan, review, do)?
- Is there a designated ‘safe place’ for your child or young person if they are particularly vulnerable?
- Will a member of staff come along to a transition meeting or annual review at the your current school?
- What qualifications do staff have in relation to special educational needs?
- Can you talk to the SENCO about any concerns you have?
- My child still needs pull-ups, who will provide support?
- Will my child have free access to drinking water?
- What do I do if my child is sick?
- Who will make sure my child receives their medication?
- Are staff trained to give medication? Where will it be stored throughout the day?
- My child or I attends regular hospital appointments, how do I let you know?
- If your child or young person has medical requirements, how will they be supported to remain independent?
- Are staff trained to give personal care?
- What specific support is available in class?
- What support is available in exams?
- What assistive technology is available?
- Are there dedicated areas for learners with a higher level of support need?
- Is there a buddy system in place to support your child or young person when they join?
- What facilities are available, for example library, computer rooms?
Accessibility of the school building
- How accessible is the building?
- Where are the toilets located? Is there a disabled toilet available and can it be accessed with or without support?
- Is there a lift, and can be it used with or without support?
- Are there stairs available and if so, is there a handrail or a ramp?
Breaks and lunchtime
- Where does my child or I go at playtime?
- What happens at lunchtime?
- How big is the playground and how many year groups access the area at the same time?
- Are there any activities during break times?
- Are there any lunchtime clubs?
- Who can support your child or young person if they need help in the breaktime?
- How many year groups are accessing the hall at one time?
- What are the seating arrangements like?
- Are there quiet or sensory areas for your child or young person to eat?
- Are there school dinner menus, and what are the packed lunch arrangements?
- How will the education setting support their dietary requirements?
- Is there an additional learning support policy?
- Do they have an accessibility statement for students with learning difficulties and disabilities?
- Do they have the right support in place as outlined by the Best Practice Guidance? (early years)
- Do they support your child or young person through the mainstream core standards? (schools and post 16)
- How do they support your young person to prepare for adulthood? (year 9 upwards)
- What is their inclusion policy?
- How do they work together with children and people? Do they have a co-production charter?
- What curriculum do they cover?
- What is their SEND policy?
- What is their behaviour policy?
- Will they be walking, taking a taxi, a bus or a train daily?
- What transport can I apply for?
- Is there any specific transport support provided by the education setting?
Chose an education setting
Once you are happy with your choice for your child or young person, you can chose to apply for:
- preschool or childcare (under 5)
- a school (ages 5 to 16)
- a sixth form or college (16+)
- higher education (18+).