Choosing a school for any child can be daunting and perhaps more so for a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
It will help to visit several schools to give you an idea of what you like and don't like. With young children, arrange an initial visit to the school without your child. You can always return with your child later. It might help for you to see how the staff interact with your child, and how your child responds to being there. Older children and young people may want to be there from the start to express their own feelings.
You may want to visit the school with a friend or relative with whom you can discuss important issues later on.
Arrange to meet someone who will be able to answer your specific questions. The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) is a good person to start with.
Make sure you plan long enough to see everything you need to see. You might want to time a visit so that you can see lessons as well as playground time. This might give an idea, for example, of corridor congestion for a wheelchair user.
Think about how your child will travel to and from the school. Consider the actual travelling time involved and the daily arrangements you will need to make. You can also find out about your eligibility for school transport.
Depending on you child's needs, you might want to look carefully at the school's general physical environment. This could be important for a child with sensory issues dealing with noise, physical movement and lighting. For mobility issues, look at the space available and level access around the building. Talk to the school about whether adaptations are a possibility. Ask what equipment they already have in the school like changing facilities.
Support offered at the school
Ask specific questions to find out what support might realistically be available. Some of this might be covered in the school's SEN Information Report which will be on their website. Schools don't usually have therapists on site but instead work closely with professionals in the NHS or the local authority. This could be physiotherapists, speech and language therapists or specialist teacher advisers. However, this means they don't have control over the support provided or the frequency. You might want to find out if the school will allow staff to have training to deliver therapies in school.
Naming a school or college on an Education, Health and Care Plan
If your child is in the process of getting an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you can express a preference of which school you would like named on the final plan. Find out more about naming a school or other education setting on an EHCP.