Choosing a School

Choosing a school for your child is a difficult decision for any parent. When your child has a disability or additional needs the decision can be even harder. The Information, Advice and Support (IAS) Service is here to help you make an informed decision.

Which type of school?

There are many different types of schools to consider. If your child has a Statement of SEN or an Education Health and Care Plan you might want to consider Special Schools as well as Mainstream Schools. Finding the most suitable school for your child might mean looking at schools outside of Southampton, Boarding Schools or Independent Schools. Information on whether your child will be eligible for school transport can be found on the Local Offer website:

We would suggest that the best way to find out if a school will be suitable for your child is to visit it in person. Most schools hold open days but you may prefer to request your own tour of the school so that you can ask all of the questions you want to and perhaps meet some of the key staff. It might be a good idea to write down some questions before you go. We have included some questions you might want to ask on this page but if you would like to meet with someone from our service to help you plan some questions specific to your child’s needs then please contact us.

Questions you might want to ask

This is not a complete list and not all questions will be relevant to your child’s age/needs but here are a few common questions that you may want to ask on school visits:

  • How many children in the school have Special Educational Needs (SEN) and what range of needs do they have?
  • How many children are there in each class? How many staff – teachers, teaching assistants?
  • What training or experience do your staff have in working with children with SEN?
  • What is a typical day like in school for my child’s age group? E.g. what time do they start/finish, when are break times etc.
  • How much extra support will my child get?
  • How will you make sure my child is included in all activities at the school (e.g. school trips)?
  • How do you measure progress? Who tracks this? How well do children with SEN make progress in your school?
  • What visual strategies do you use in school?
  • What different ways of communicating do you use in school?
  • What support do you get from outside agencies? How do you put in place the advice given from these professionals?
  • Is the school secure?
  • What support do you offer to parents and families?
  • Are there before/after school or holiday clubs?