Starting or changing school if your child has SEND

Moving to a new school or further education setting is both an exciting and anxious experience for all children, young people, and their families. However, when your child has special educational needs, the process can be particularly worrying as you may not be sure how a new setting will meet your child’s needs.

There are some things you can do before to help prepare.

At home

  • Talk positively about the move to secondary school, discussing the things that will be the same or the things that will be different.
  • Encourage your child to share any anxieties they may have about the move so you can address these at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Get a map of the school to check where different rooms will be, like their form room or science labs.
  • Practice the journey to and from school, especially is this involves public transport.
  • Look at the school prospectus or website together to help become familiar with the new school.
  • Attend any events the new school might be hosting, such as a summer fayre, to help to get know the school.

With your child’s current school and the new school

  • Check arrangements are in place so information about your child’s needs and the extra help that has been in place are shared.
  • Make sure areas of progress and successes and any special interests and skills your child has are highlighted.
  • Draw up a simple profile to be shared with staff to support a shared understanding of needs and provide continuity of approach, it could include:
    • areas of strength and personal interests
    • things that might cause them anxiety and stress and the impact of this on behaviour
    • strategies that help soothe and calm
    • how they like to be helped - what has worked well and how can this be replicated in a different school
    • how they communicate - verbally and non-verbally, for example visible signs of stress and anxiety.
  • If required, make arrangements for your child to have extra visits to become more familiar with buildings and routines in the school day as well as meeting key staff.
  • Make sure your child can take part in any transition activities the school might be running.
  • Identify the key member of staff your child should go to if they are unsure about anything.
  • For children with more complex needs, agree a date within the first 3 weeks of term to talk to or meet with the school to check how things are going and to highlight any emerging issues so that they can be addressed early.

We are here to answer any queries or questions you might have about your child starting a new school or starting college. Please contact your named officer to discuss any concerns you may have.