Choosing A School For A Child With SEN
Choosing A School Fof A Child With Special Educational Needs (SEN)
One of the questions we are most frequently asked is "how do I know that I'm choosing the right school for my child?". The answer is that you probably won't know until you have tried it. This question is usually closely followed by "can you recommend a school?", and of course we are not in a position to do that because we don't know your child, or know what you are looking for in a school….. However, we can suggest a number of things you might want to think about or ask about when you are looking at schools.

Ask to see the Home-School Agreement

Ask to see the school's SEN policy - this will explain how the individual school manages provision for pupils with SEN
Ask to see the latest Governors' Annual Report to parents/carers - this should give details of how the school has spent its SEN funding
How often might a pupil be withdrawn from lessons in order to receive support - it is likely that the answer will be "as little as possible" as they should be able to access the curriculum as much as possible
Has the school experience of children with the same/similar needs as your child and how did they work with them?
Is the SENCO part of the school's management team?
What clubs or activities might the pupil get involved in (e.g. supported homework, after-school clubs, specific activity groups, etc.)
How does the SENCO communicate information about individual pupils to teachers? This is especially important at secondary school where a pupil might be taught by 13-14 different teachers in a week
How does the school communicate with you? How often?
How regularly are Individual Education Plans (IEPs) reviewed?
As well as attending any open evenings the prospective schools might organise, you could also ask for a separate meeting with the SENCO.
If your child has a Statement of SEN and you are considering secondary schools, you should be aware that you will be asked to express a preference for a school in the September of the year before they are due to move. You might therefore want to attend secondary open evenings in the autumn term of Year 5.
Why Is It Important To "EXPRESS A PREFERENCE" For A School For A Pupil With A Statement Of Special Educational Needs (SEN)?
If your child has a Statement of SEN, the law says that you have the right to "express a preference" for the school you wish your child to attend. This means that you can tell the local education authority (LEA) which of the maintained schools in your area you would like them to go to. A maintained school is one that belongs to or is managed by the LEA, i.e. your local primary, secondary or special school, but not an independent or private school. The LEA will then take your views into account when decisions are being made about which school can best meet your child's needs.
If you are asked by the LEA to express a preference for a school it is important that you do so either in writing or by telephoning your child's case officer so that the details of your preferred school can be recorded in the relevant paperwork.
At your child's last Annual Review, there will have been a discussion about which school they should go to next. However, unless you had put the name of your preferred school in writing when you completed the Parental Report for the Annual Review, there may be no written record of the school for the LEA to refer to.
If you do not know which school you prefer and are happy to wait for the outcome of the process, you should let the LEA know that too, again by contacting your child's case officer.