Special educational needs: choosing a school

If your child has a statement of special educational needs, they will usually go to an ordinary school, play group or nursery. However, you can also ask for them to go to a special school.

Choosing your child's school

You have a right to say which grant aided school you want them to go to, either mainstream or special. This can be the school they already go to.

The Education Authority (EA) in your region must agree to send your child to the school you want as long as:

  • the school you choose is suitable for your child's age, ability, skills and special needs
  • your child meets any academic selection criteria the school has although most schools do not select pupils by ability
  • your child's presence fits in with efficient education for other children
  • placing your child in the school will be an efficient use of the resources

Special schools usually take children with particular types of special needs. Many ordinary schools also have special provision for children with particular needs. For example, they may have good access for physically disabled pupils or special teaching for pupils with hearing, sight problems or dyslexia.

You can ask to see a school's policy on special educational needs to make sure you know what they can offer. You can also arrange to visit a number of schools if you want to.

You may want your child to go to a school that is not run by the EA in your region.

For example:

  • a non grant aided special school, usually run by charities
  • an independent school that can meet your child's needs
  • a school run by the EA in another region

However, if there's a suitable grant aided school, the EA has no legal duty to send your child to an independent school.

Help with making your choice

When choosing a school, you should get all the information, help and advice you need and talk over any worries you may have.

The EA in your region, local voluntary organisations and parents' groups will be able to give you support in making your choice.

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