Choosing a Setting for a Child or young person with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND)

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 and/or Disability to be able to access the curriculum. Sometimes, children might need to go to a specialist setting.

This will be decided at a placement panel informed by people working with the child. Your wishes and feelings will be really important as part of ensuring your child’s placement is the most appropriate.

One of the questions we are most frequently asked is:

“How do I know that I’m choosing the right setting for my child?”

The answer is that you probably won’t know until you have found out more and had a look. Below are a number of things you might want to think (or ask) about when you are looking at schools, to help you make your decision.

This question is usually closely followed by:

“Can you recommend a setting?”

Parents must make their own decisions in choosing a school, though there is a lot of information and advice professionals and parent support services can offer.

If your child is aged under 5, further information relating to choosing a setting can be read here

Finding a setting that will suit your child:

  • you can start by looking for schools near you online, your Local Authority website will be able to provide you with lists of local settings, provision offered, and their admissions information,
  • visit at least two settings so that you have something to compare,
  • does the setting already have all the things your child needs or could they be developed?
  • try to keep an open mind until you have looked at all the possibilities and spoken to the professionals involved with your child,
  • speak to the Specialist Teachers for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, the Educational Psychologist or the health professionals who may be involved with your child.

Make a checklist of all the things that are important to you and your child; this will help you to ask the right questions, See the checklist (below) as an example:

  • ask for a school prospectus or brochure (or find a copy online),
  • have a 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; however, it is important to keep an open mind. All settings change and information can be out of date. Also, different things are important to different parents. You know your child best, and what is likely to suit him or her.

Here are some questions you might want to ask. You will think of other things that are important to you and your family.

If you are going to visit more than one school you might want to jot down some notes to help you remember:

  • How many pupils will be in my child’s 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 his or her 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 and after school clubs and outings)?
  • Remember, your own experiences of school may affect the way you see the school. Try to put these feelings aside and look at the school from your child’s perspective.

In the SEN Code of Practice, Transition also refers to transition to adulthood, for pupils from Year 9 onwards.  Leaving school and moving on to adult life can be a worrying time for all young people and their families.  For pupils who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), a planning system and a transition protocol is available to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

The following points should be considered for young people as part of Transition Planning:

The Young Person:

The young person’s wishes and feelings should be at the Centre of their plan.

  • What are the young person’s hopes and aspirations for the future?
  • How can these be met?
  • How can the young person be encouraged to contribute to their plan?
  • Alternative methods of communication should be considered, if necessary.
  • What is working well and what is not working well for them at the moment?

The Parents:

  • What is the parent/ carer’s hopes and aspirations for their young person’s adult life?
  • How can parents/ carers continue to help to contribute to the development of their young person’s skills?

The Professionals:

The Special Education Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) and Careers Adviser at their current placement will have the lead role in ensuring the delivery of the elements of the transition plan that relate to the young person’s transition into further learning or employment.

The careers advisor within the young person’s current setting should interview the young person concerning their hopes for the future if they are leaving school at 16.

The young person and their parents/carers should visit local college(s) to find out if these are suitable for their needs and also think about work experience.

For young people with greater needs it will be essential to find out about what choices there are as these are more limited.

Post School Opportunities for Young people with SEN

A successful transition planning process will help give a clear understanding of what opportunities are available for young people post school.

Young people will be able to choose the best Post 16 option, and will be able to leave school after year 11 and consider the following options:

  • Full-time Education – at a school Sixth Form, or a General Further Education College (GFE) – Attending a local college of further education while living at home is often the next step. Colleges can offer a wide range and level of courses, both academic and work-related, which can be full or part-time. Many courses are designed to prepare young people for adult life by offering a range of vocational taster courses, the chance to gain qualifications and improve skills in maths, English and communication. Some students remain in their local college until the age of 25.
  • Supported Traineeship – at a local training provider or a college. This will give young people a minimum of six months of work placement and they will be supported by a work mentor.
  • Traineeship – at a local training provider or a college. This is for young people who want to develop practical skills through work experience lasting up to six months. It can lead to qualifications up to level 2.
  • Apprenticeship – this is done through an employer and leads to work-based qualifications up to level 3.
  • Employment with Training – if employed, self-employed or volunteering full time (20 hours or more a week) but a young person must still be in learning for at least 280 hours a year, the equivalent of one day a week during term-time.
  • Specialist residential colleges – nearly all Young People with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability can go to their local college, take up traineeship or an apprenticeship.  In some exceptional cases, the Special School in conjunction with the careers adviser and, where appropriate, social care, will work together to consider specialist provision.

Parents/carers must make sure their children receive a full-time education that meets their needs. This can be at school or otherwise (Elective Home Education).

If you’re concerned about school attendance

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 click here.