Skip to main content

< Nursery Schools Essex Guide Secondary Schools >

Best primary schools in Chelmsford

Best secondary schools in Colchester

Best primary schools in Brentwood and West Essex

Special Educational Needs

Primary school in Essex

Essex’s most popular state primary schools are perennially oversubscribed and often difficult to get into unless you have the required geography and/or religion. Our article on primary school admissions sets out the application process and advises on the best ways to build a thorough understanding of your preferred schools.

Primary Schools in Chelmsford

Beehive Lane Community Primary School, with good outside space and even better academic performance. Nearby, split across on two sites, Moulsham Infant and Junior Schools’ pupils' academic performance is above the local and national average. Perryfields Infant and Junior has similarly generous grounds in one of the original Springfield suburbs and a good record with admissions to local grammars, as does nearby The Tyrrells School.

The Bishops’ Church of England and Roman Catholic Primary School is a rare alliance of faiths and a modern, friendly school. Chelmsford’s oldest local faith school is The Cathedral School, still on its original compact Victorian site a stone’s throw from the city’s medieval place of worship, an atmospheric venue for pupils’ concerts. The former and the latter give priority to applicants coming from religiously observant families; worth remembering when the schools are oversubscribed (as all those listed above are - so check the priority admission areas).

The newest school of any kind in the area is The Beaulieu Park School, a £34 million contemporary edifice opened in 2018 to serve the new residential phases of Beaulieu Park and Channels (formerly a golf course). The first all-through state school in the county, it has great facilities for specialist teaching and the timetable allows extra time for the basics of literacy and numeracy.

Best state secondary schools in Chelmsford

Best private schools in Chelmsford

Best nurseries in Chelmsford


Primary Schools in Colchester

The lure of Colchester’s two top grammar schools can influence parents’ choice of primary (or prep) schools in this city – some are happy to prepare children for the 11+ and others don’t go out of their way to do so (but tutoring is a full-time job for many retired teachers around here). The city has several outstanding state primary schools: Home Farm Primary School, known for its high academic standards as well as good support for children with learning difficulties and disabilities; Hamilton Primary School, which operates an enquiry-based curriculum and registers impressive academic performance; and St Teresa’s Catholic Primary, whose 30 reception places are largely taken by children with a Certificate of Catholic Practice (or Catholic children from the families of armed service personnel) resident in three local parishes. All three are oversubscribed to varying degrees, so check the admissions policies.

Also well worth considering is Kelvedon St Mary Church of England Primary Academy in the popular nearby commuter village, a well-run school with excellent teaching, lots of sports clubs and a rather exclusive priority admissions area.

Best state secondary schools in Colchester

Best private schools in Colchester

Best nurseries in Colchester


Primary Schools in Brentwood and West Essex

There are several excellent state primaries around here. Shenfield St Mary’s Church of England Primary School – church-goers get priority - and Larchwood Primary School are very convenient for the centre of Brentwood; Ray Lodge Primary School, with its celebrated immersive curriculum, is in Woodford Green, just inside London; and the lovely Hereward Primary is in Loughton. Places at these top primaries are highly-prized so read the admissions policy carefully and make sure you’re living in the right priority area to avoid disappointment when applying.

Best state secondary schools in Brentwood and West Essex

Best private schools in Brentwood and West Essex

Best nurseries in Brentwood and West Essex


State primary schools for children with special educational needs in Essex

There are many excellent options for children with special educational needs in the county, ranging from special schools to enhanced provision within mainstream schools. Details of SEN provision in Essex can be found with the relevant local authorities, Essex, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock.

All mainstream schools in Essex, both state and independent, have learning support departments to help out with mild learning difficulties (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, autism or speech and language difficulties). A handful of schools have Additional Resource Provision such as Lexden Primary in Colchester for hearing impaired pupils; West Horndon Primary in Brentwood for Speech, language and Communication, and Temple Sutton in Southend for autism.

The special schools in Essex are all-through. Treetops School in Grays is well thought of with inspectors noting that ‘pupils are not defined by their learning difficulties’, which can range from moderate to severe and includes autism spectrum disorder and associated learning difficulties. Also highly-regarded is Thriftwood School and College in Chelmsford which takes pupils from 7 to 19 who have moderate special educational needs and disabilities.

< Nursery Schools Essex Guide Secondary Schools >

Most popular Good Schools Guide articles

  • Special educational needs introduction

    Need help? Perhaps you suspect your child has some learning difficulty and you would like advice on what you should do. Or perhaps it is becoming clear that your child's current school is not working for him or her, and you need help to find a mainstream school which has better SEN provision, or to find a special school which will best cater for your child's area of need. Our SEN consultancy team advises on both special schools, and the mainstream schools with good SEN support, from reception through to the specialist colleges for 19+. Special Educational Needs Index

  • The Good Schools Guide International

    Find top international, British, IB and American schools in over 40 countries. The Good Schools Guide International publishes impartial and forthright reviews of international schools across the world.

  • Grammar schools best value added

    We examined the value-added from KS2 to GCSE for 2022 to see which state selective grammar schools added the most value to their offspring. A note of caution - the more highly selective a grammar school, the less scope there will be to add value.

  • Grammar schools in the UK

    Grammar schools are state-funded, academically selective senior schools. The education a child receives at grammar school is paid for by the state unlike at private schools which provide education for a fee. There are currently around 163 located in 36 English local authorities, with around 167,000 pupils between them. Northern Ireland has a further 67 grammar schools, but there are none in Wales or Scotland. A word of caution: there are private schools that have the word 'grammar' in their name but this is purely for historical reasons. 

  • Music, drama and dance at Performing Arts schools

    At specialist music, dance or performing arts schools, the arts aren't optional extras. They’re intrinsic to the school curriculum. Students are expected to fit in high level training and hours of practice alongside a full academic provision. It's a lot to ask any child to take on, but for those with exceptional performing ability this kind of education can be transformative.

Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews:

☑ 30,000 Independent, state and special schools in our parent-friendly interactive directory
☑ Instant access to in-depth UK school reviews
☑ Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of over 1,200 schools
☑ Independent tutor company reviews

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark

Buy Now

GSG Blog >

The Good Schools Guide newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.


Our most recent newsletter: