Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
Finding the right school place involves weighing up the pros and
cons of different schools and the chances of getting a place.
Even if you have been through school admission with other
children, you may have a completely different set of questions for
your child with additional needs.
On this page we explain how to find out information about
schools and suggest some questions to ask when visiting. For
information about the admissions system, see our
school admissions webpage.
From the local authority
The local authority must publish details of all local
state-funded schools on the admissions section of its website.
There is usually a separate section for each phase of education,
for example primary and secondary. This information must be updated
every year in time for the new admissions round.
There should also be links to the admission sections of
neighbouring local authority websites.
In your local authority's local offer
Your local authority's 'local offer' site should have
information on schools in the area. As well as the local
authority's own schools, it may also have links to independent
schools or schools in other local authorities where local children
have been placed. What's on offer varies between local
You should be able to find information about:
If you want a place in a special school or unit, your child will
need to have an Education, Health
and Care plan.
Online and in other directories
information about schools is the new government schools
database. This lists all schools, both state-funded and
independent. You can search by local authority or by town or
postcode and view the results on a map to find schools near where
you live. The site also enables you to filter by type of school or
phase of education.
independent special schools and specialist colleges are
available to download separately.
In addition, there are a number of commercially-available
directories of special schools. These tend to focus more on
independent schools. You should be able to find copies in larger
Schools must publish the following information.
All state-maintained schools and academies must publish an SEN
information report on their website. This is a good place to start
to find out about the help that is available from the school's own
The SEN information report must include information about:
The accessibility plan must include information about the steps
the school is taking to make both the environment and the
curriculum more accessible for disabled pupils. This may be
included within the SEN information report.
All state-funded schools now have a duty to make arrangements to
support children with medical needs. They must produce a policy
saying how they will do this.
All state-maintained schools must draw up a behaviour policy,
which must be published on the school's website. The policy will
set out how the school encourages good behaviour and the sanctions
for breaking the school rules, as well as the measures it takes to
Academies and independent schools must also have a behaviour and
anti-bullying policy. There is no legal duty to publish it on the
school's website, though it is good practice to do so.
You can find Ofsted inspection reports either through a link
from the school's website or from the Ofsted website. Be aware
that reports may be several years old and that schools can change
from one year to another.
It is essential to visit the schools you are considering, as
this can give you a feel for how your child would fit in.
All mainstream schools have open events as part of the normal
admission round, but it can also be helpful to visit during the
normal school day. If it is a mainstream school, ask for an
appointment to talk to the SENCO (special educational needs
coordinator). You can then ask specific questions about how the
school will support your child.
It's a good idea to take with you a consistent list of
questions, particularly if you are visiting a lot of schools. You
may also like to take a brief summary of your child's strengths and
difficulties, such as a one-page profile. This will help give the
school a sense of your child as a person.
What you ask will be personal to your child and their particular
needs. The following questions may help you put together your own
Questions to ask all schools
Questions about the environment:
Questions about learning and the curriculum:
About social support and communication:
Questions to ask special schools
In addition to the above, you may want to ask:
Questions to ask residential schools
Once you have gathered information about different schools and
drawn up a short list, you will be able formally to express a
preference for the school you think would be right for your
There is a different process for children with and without
Education, Health and Care plans. This is covered in full on our
page on school admissions and school
For more information about this topic, you can speak to the
education team on our freephone helpline.
We also support Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Give our
helpline a call on 0808 808 3555 for information and advice on any
aspect of raising a disabled child, or call your local contact.
Find out our local office details in the In your area section.