Choosing a school

Deciding which school you would like your child to attend can be a daunting and difficult decision for any parent but for parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) the decision can be even more difficult as there are so many other things to consider.

If you are considering secondary education for your child with special educational needs this handy resource may help you to record any visits, make comparisons between schools, prompt you to ask relevant questions and support you to share your child’s views, wishes and feelings.

  • Information about Halton Schools can be found on Halton SEND Local Offer.
  • If you have a child who has Autism check out this leaflet which has been produced by autism education trust Guide to choosing a school for your child with Autism

You may already know what your child’s needs are or how best they can be met. You may want to talk things through with someone before you start visiting schools if:

  • You aren’t clear about your child’s needs or how best they can be met
  • You disagree with what the professionals are saying
  • You disagree with the type of placement being offered. You can contact the Parent Partnership Service to discuss the options available to you.

Before Visiting the School

Before you visit a school you can find out more about the school to help you decide if it is worth visiting. You can call the school and ask about: The types of special needs the school can support (all Local Authority mainstream schools have to be inclusive and should be able to provide for any type of need).

  • The way the school deals with special needs – this will be in the SEN policy and/or the Inclusion Policy of the school. Ask them to send you a copy. Some of it may be in complicated language but it will give you a good starting point. You can also ask them to send you a copy of the school prospectus. This will help you to decide what questions you may want to ask when you visit the school.
  • Links between home and school – do they have regular newsletters? Are reports sent home on a regular basis? You can ask them for copies of the most recent newsletters. Do they tell you what you want to know?
  • Their most recent OFSTED report – you can ask the school for a copy of their most recent report but they may ask you to pay for the cost of photocopying it. See what the report says about SEN provision. It should also be on the OFSTED website if you have access to the Internet.
  • Give the school a brief outline of your child’s needs and ask for a visit to the school. Ask for time with the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo), learning support team member or teacher in charge of special needs in the school.

Visiting the School

  • You can visit as many schools as you wish before making a decision, not just the ones that are suggested to you.
    You can take a friend, relative or other supporter with you.
  • It is important to find out from your child what sort of school they think they would be happy in, but you may not want to take them on an initial visit. You may prefer to wait until you are fairly sure which school you want them to attend. You can take them to see all the schools if you wish.
  • Think about what you want to know about the school before you visit. This will help you draw up a list of questions you may want to ask. The questions in this section will help you to work out what you want to ask. They may not all be relevant to your situation and there may be others you wish to ask which are not on the list.
  • Schools are used to having visitors so won’t be surprised by any of your questions. They won’t be offended if you decide not to choose their school. They appreciate that many parents visit several schools before making a decision.
  • Don’t forget to ask about all the non-SEN provisions within the school too!