Choosing a school
How do you choose a nursery, school or college for a child or young person with an EHCP?
Here are a few general guidelines. You can find the full, comprehensive set of guidance notes in our downloadable info sheet on Choosing a School. See the link below.
What kind of school does my child need?
You need to be fully aware of your child’s range of special educational needs, and importantly, their extent and severity. They all affect their ability to cope with the full national curriculum.
Before you advise the LA what school you want your child to attend, it’s vital that you understand needs. And draw on any advice you are or have received.
How many schools should I visit?
- If you have a clear picture of your child’s needs, you may not need to visit very many. Indeed, avoid seeing a lot –as it is likely they will not all be appropriate.
- Take a look at the school’s website to understand the profile of children it is supporting. Does it sound like this school has children and young people with a similar profile of needs?
When you visit, try to arrange an appointment to talk to the school SENCo so that you can ask about how they would support your child and check whether the school is able to meet your child’s needs.
Are there any resources that will help me choose a school?
Take a look at the following for information on both maintained and independent special schools, as well as mainstream schools that provide some specialist support for certain special needs:
- Choosing a School for a Child with Special Needs Ruth Birnbaum (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009). Very detailed and helpful guidance on choosing a school.
- The Good Schools Guide: publishes independent reviews of more than 120 special schools and colleges, and details SEN support available in more than 1,100 mainstream schools. It also has a consultancy service helping parents to find the right school. http://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/sen
- John Catt’s Which School? For Special Needs
What other references can I draw on?
- Ofsted reports are available online and are well worth checking. For independent schools, the website of the Independent Schools Inspectorate should be consulted.
- Lists of schools are also available from national support groups such as the National Autistic Society and the Dyslexia Association.
- Never discount the value of local knowledge, if you are looking to place your child in a school local to you: check whether there are any local SEN support groups or advisory services, and in particular whether there are any locally-based Facebook groups who may well have members with direct experience of schools in your area.
- Take a look the Local Offer website published by your Local Authority that will also set out the settings in your area and possibly in nearby areas if they are a small authority.
Legislation – how it applies
Parents or young people have a legal right to request that a particular school or college is named in in their EHCP (or can express a preference if for an independent school, college or other institution).
The parent or young person has a right to request any of the following types of school or college:
- Maintained mainstream school (with or without a specialist provision unit)
- Maintained nursery school
- Maintained special school
- Academy or Free school
- Non-maintained special school
- An institution approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 (independent special schools and special post-16 institutions: approval)
- Further education or sixth form college
These are listed in section 38(3) of the Children and Families Act (CAFA) 2014.
There are two key areas of legislation that are relevant
- Section 39(4) of the Children and Families Act 2014 – parental right to preferred school
- Section 33 Children and Families Act 2014 – referencing child and young people being educated in a mainstream school . This is an important for those wishing to exercise their right to a mainstream education.
Independent Schools and Colleges (not Section 41)
Parents or young people can ask for a place in a non-maintained early years provision, independent school, independent specialist college or other post-16 provider. The Local Authority must consider the request but are not under the same duty to name the preferred placement. The LA must have regard to the general principle that children should be educated in accordance with their parents’ wishes, so long as this is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and does not mean unreasonable public expenditure.
Please look at our information sheet on Choosing Schools which gives important details about the legislation and how it applies which are important details to understand in terms of entitlements to types of education settings. See the link below