SEND Education – moving on to school

This is article is part of a series on SEND education. This covers questions about finding a school to fit your child.

Use these links to navigate to other pages or use the links at the bottom of each page.

  1. Introduction
  2. Support in Early Years
  3. Moving on to School
  4. Extra Support in School
  5. Post 16 transition
  6. Additional topics – transport, exclusion, advice on school absence

If you are looking for a link to a particular service please also look at our support links page. If you would like more information, or if you spot an error please contact us.

Moving onto school

During your child’s early years you may be thinking ahead about where they will go to primary school. Here are some answers to the most common questions we hear.

Is a mainstream or special school best for my child?

The type of school your child goes to will depend on their needs, your preference and the schools in your area.

Your child may learn well in a mainstream school with extra help from staff within or outside the school.

If your child has complex needs, a special school with specially trained teachers, therapists and equipment may suit them best.

It’s a good idea to visit different schools in your area to get an idea of what kind of school would be right for your child.

How do I find out about primary schools in my area?

Your local authority will send you information about how to apply for a primary school reception place, along with details of all the local mainstream primary schools, in the year before your child is due to start school. You can also find this information in the education section of the local authority website.

I’ve found a really good special school – how can my child get a place there?

Nearly all children who go to special schools will have an Education and Healthcare plan, which describes the extra help they need and names the school they will go to. You can say in the plan if you would prefer your child to go to a special school. In some situations the local authority can refuse the school of your choice. Contact – a national charity for families with disabled children have education advisers who can help you understand your rights if you’re in this situation.

I’ve accepted a place at the local mainstream school, but I don’t think my child will be ready to start in September.

Moving to primary school is a big step for all children, and all schools will have arrangements to help new pupils settle in. Talk to the school about your child’s particular needs and what help the school can give them at the start of the new school year.

Your child doesn’t have to be in education until they reach compulsory school age, which is at the start of the term after their 5th birthday. You could ask for your child to go to school part time until then. Alternatively, you can also ask the school if your child can delay their start until later in the school year.