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Article published 5th June 2008

Finding schools that provide for particular educational or medical needs on this site...Choosing a school for any child can be difficult. When the child also has an SEN decisions are frequently harder to reach.

We haven't found a school that suits all talented athletes, exceptional academics or gifted musicians. In the same way we will never uncover a school that fits all children with hearing impairment, specific learning difficulties or other SENs.

No one school is ever perfect for all children and no child suits all schools but we can help you with the process of working out what is important for your child.

Special needs help on this website

  • We list and carry details of all special schools in the UK, plus examination data and links to inspection reports where applicable.'
  • We have thousands of responses from schools to our survey about SEN provision in individual schools. These are the schools' own responses which we have not verified, so please check with individual schools for the latest information. The information is displayed on the individual school pages. 
  • We have visited and reviewed schools including more than 80 special schools, identified by parents and others who know them well, as good schools. In addition, we have reviewed 1000 or so mainstream schools; a number of which have good provision for some types of SEN. 
  • We have lots of detailed information on numerous aspects of SEN and SEN provision and very many pointers to additional sources of help and advice.
  • We have detailed examination pefomance information for all English schools which show, not only how well a school performs but, how well children with SEN do.

Provision for a child's SEN may be of overwhelming importance but try to consider your child's needs holistically.

Is there really a choice of schools?

For a few severe and complex SENs, school choice may be extremely limited but, for most, choice does exist. Don't choose a school just because it says it offers provision for dyslexia or whatever, choose a school because it suits your child.

If a school doesn't advertise that they cater for SEN but you like it and think it suits your child - ask. You'd be surprised how many schools that do well by children with SEN don't advertise the fact: 'we don't want to be seen as a special school'. SEN may be seen as the latest phenomenon to hit the streets with parents fighting to get the help their child deserves but that doesn't mean they want their child to be perceived as attending a school for SEN (and that's the point - so many aren't SEN schools. They're good schools that also do well by children with SEN.)

Starting points

  • Seek advice from your LA about the range of school provision available locally, including special school provision. Some are more helpful and knowledgeable than others but all have a duty to help. Charities have lists of schools they recommend for specific conditions. Some charities such as the NAS also run schools and have an excellent and invaluable understanding of education and educational provision.
  • The schools - Further information about particular schools - including independent and non-maintained special schools - can be obtained from the schools themselves.
  • The local parent partnership service will be able to offer factual and impartial information and advice: ask the LA for the service's phone number.
  • Other parents - talk with who have had similar experiences, their insights are often invaluable - read our SEN Experience section this offers invaluable insights from those with first-hand experience.
  • The Good Schools Guide - use guides such as this one, which draw on the experiences of parents, for an independent insight into schools.  Importantly, though, you need to visit schools to see if they really will meet your child's needs before making any decisions.


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