Choosing a school for a child with SEND

At arms-length from the local authority, we offer impartial information, advice and support around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Read more about Suffolk SENDIASS

Most children with SEND will go to a mainstream school and are often supported by the Local Offer. The Local Offer includes information about SEND services, including specialist education and health support. 

Read more about how children with SEN are supported within our  SEN Support web pages. Our Equality and Inclusion section explains how children with SEN and disabilities should be included in education.

Choosing a school can feel like an overwhelming responsibility for parents and carers, particularly when they have a child with SEN and/or disabilities. Gathering information, discussing your thoughts with others and feeling well informed, can help you feel better prepared to make the right decisions for your child. 

Take a look at our Top tips and frequently asked questions, and get in touch with us if you have any questions.

How do I apply for a mainstream school place?

Read more about schools in your area and how to apply for a place within the Suffolk School Admissions webpages.

How do I apply for a special school?

Find out about special schools in Suffolk.

You will need an EHC plan for your child if you want them to go to a special school.  What is an EHC plan?

When you receive the draft EHC plan, or a draft amended plan at Annual Review you will be asked which school you would like your child to go to.

This includes requesting a special school (maintained, academy or free)

Can I request an Independent school?

You can ‘make representations’ (request and give your reasons) for an Independent school to be named, though the local authority must consider your wishes there is no conditional duty to name. They will only name an independent school where a place has been offered.

Some Independent schools and colleges have ‘opted in’ and are included in the list of schools you can request. View the list of approved independent schools and colleges, known as ‘section 41’ schools.

What is a Specialist Unit?

The local authority has opened a range of Units attached to mainstream schools, some have a particular specialism. 

Though these ‘Specialist Units’ are attached to mainstream schools, apart from exceptional circumstances, your child will need an EHC plan to be able to attend. 

Schools must provide detailed information about their arrangements for the admission of disabled pupils to the school and publish an accessibility plan explaining adjustments they can make and ongoing plans to improve access.
They must also publish a SEN information report explaining how they identify and support children with Special Educational Needs & Disability – so the schools’ own website can be a useful starting point. 

Related information

What is a Special Educational Need?

How are children with SEN included in education? (YouTube video)

Find and compare schools in England – Department for Education

Watch our video on choosing an early years setting for a child who may have SEN.
Read accessible script of recording (opens pdf)