Choosing a primary school when your child has special educational needs (SEN)

Choosing a primary school is an important decision for all parents and carers. If your child has SEN, there are extra things to consider.

How to find out about schools where you live

Our Admissions Section can give you a list of your local primary schools. You can find out about each school from:

  • the school prospectus or any newsletters;
  • the school website;
  • the governors’ annual report to parents;
  • the latest Ofsted report (Ofsted website:;
  • the school’s policies on SEN, behaviour and bullying;
  • talking to other parents;
  • talking to the Parent Partnership Worker (PPW); and
  • going to school events (for example, the summer fair or Christmas play).

If your child has a statement of SEN, you should discuss possible schools at the annual review. If your child goes to a nursery, ask for the head teacher’s advice about local schools.

Preparing to visit a school

You can phone or write to the school to arrange a visit. Some schools have set days and times for visits, and others may make an appointment to suit you. Here are some of the things you should consider.

  • Do you want to take your child when you first visit, or maybe visit again later?
  • Do you want to take a friend or family member with you? They may notice different things and afterwards you can talk to them about how you feel.
  • Who do you want to meet? The special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo teacher who organises SEN support), the head teacher or the class teacher for your child’s age group?
  • Can your child use the playground and move around the school easily?
  • Is the school easy to get to from your home?
  • Think about what your child needs now and what they may need in the future.

When you visit

You might find it helpful to discuss your child’s (individual) needs with the SENCo.

  • Do you feel welcome?
  • Do the children seem happy and interested?
  • Is children’s work displayed? Does it show all abilities and cultures?
  • Are people helpful and friendly?

Some questions to ask

  • How is SEN support organised? Does it take place in the classroom?
  • How will staff know about your child’s needs?
  • Does the school help all the children to understand everyone’s different needs?
  • How will the school let you know about your child’s progress and what’s happening in the school generally?

If your child has a statement of SEN, you must tell the SEN Section which school you prefer. The school’s usual admissions procedures do not apply to children who have statements.

Updated: 8 July 2009