Choose a school for your child with SEND

Most children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have the right to attend a mainstream school. Schools must put arrangements in place to support your child's individual needs.

Children who do not have an education, health and care (EHC) plan should apply for a mainstream school place. We recommend that if an EHC needs assessment has started but is yet to be completed, then you should still apply for a school place as you may miss out on a place at one of your preferred schools.

In partnership with schools, we want to make sure that your child can be supported, and we have created the following to help parents understand how mainstream schools can support your child:

Before you choose a mainstream school

We recommend before choosing a school you:

  • read their OFSTED report
  • read the school’s SEND policy and SEND information report, both should be available on their website
  • attend open days or evenings or 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?
  • Does the school have any experience of children with similar needs to your child and how they have supported children with similar needs?
  • What is the school's special educational needs policy?
  • How does 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 will your child would be supported in class, during breaks and lunchtime?
  • How will you would be involved in decisions about your child, for example, support or provision?
  • How does the school will communicate with you about your child?

Use our school search to find a mainstream school.

Apply for a mainstream school

If your child has SEND but does not have an EHC plan or is currently being assessed for one you should apply for a school place in the same way as other parents.

Apply for a mainstream school

Special schools or schools with specialist resource provision

Normally only children and young people with the most complex or severe needs attend a special school, as their needs should be met by a mainstream school.

All children and young people who attend special schools or special resourced provisions have an EHC plan.

Find out more about: