Choosing an Educational Setting

The majority of children will receive their education in their local catchment setting. All settings must make adjustments to help children with special educational needs or disability access the curriculum. Sometimes, children might need to go to a specialist setting to get additional support. This will be decided at a placement panel informed by people working with the child.

In this section

Attending the right setting is really important for the education of children and young people. Please pick from the following options to find out more about choosing the right educational setting.

How to choose a setting

  • Look for nearby schools online. The directory of Birmingham schools can help locate all nearby settings starting from nursery to secondary level. The directory also includes special schools and resource bases for special educational needs.
  • Visit at least two different settings.
  • Keep an open mind until you have looked at all the possibilities and spoken to the professionals involved with your child.
  • Decide whether the setting has the necessary provision in place to support your child’s needs.
  • Speak to specialist teachers, educational psychologists, and other health professionals who are involved in supporting the additional needs of children at the setting.

Before visiting a setting

  • Ask for a school prospectus or brochure, or find a copy online.
  • Look at the school’s website, especially their SEND Information Report (sometimes known as their local or school offer for SEND).
  • Look up the school’s most recent OfSTED report on the internet.
  • Take any relevant information about your child or young person’s additional needs with you.
  • Think carefully about whether you want to take your child with you on the first visit (you could discuss this with the setting or another professional).
  • Decide if you want to take someone along with you such as a friend or relative – they can help in discussing your impressions afterwards.
  • Ask to have a guided tour of the setting. You will get a better feel for the setting if you do this when the children are there.
  • Think about speaking to other parents, but remember different things are important to different parents. You know your child best, and what is likely to suit them.

Things to ask whilst visiting a setting

Asking the right questions is important for making sure your child has access to the right educational setting. Here are some examples of questions you might want to ask:

  • How many pupil’s will be in there class?
  • What will the school do to make sure that all the staff know about my child’s individual needs?
  • How does the school arrange extra support for children who need it?
  • How will I be involved in planning for my child’s needs and reviewing their progress?
  • How will the other children be helped to understand my child’s needs?
  • How will my child be helped to settle into school and to make friends?
  • How will I be kept up-to-date about what is happening in school?
  • How does the school help children to learn how to behave?
  • How does the school deal with bullying?
  • How will the school make sure my child has the chance to take part in all areas of the curriculum and extracurricular activities, such as lunchtime, after school clubs, and outings?

Remember, your own experiences of school may affect the way you see each setting. It is important to try and put these feelings aside, and look at each setting you visit from the perspective of your child.

Concerns about school attendance

Parents and carers must make sure their child receives a full-time education that meets their needs. This can be at school or Elective Home Education.

Parents who are concerned about attendance should contact their child’s school to tell them about the difficulties. Where possible and appropriate, schools will try to assist parents by offering support or referring them to additional support services. Schools may also ask for medical evidence if a child’s attendance becomes of concern. For more information please see Birmingham City Council’s school attendance advice for parents.