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Choosing and applying for a school for a child with special educational needs or disability (SEND)

All children are entitled to a mainstream education. If your child has a severe disability, they may need to go to a special school.

Apply for a school

You don’t need to apply for a school if your child has one of the following:

You’ll need to apply for a school in the same way as other parents if your child doesn’t have a statement, LDA, EHC or SEN Plan.

Your child is being assessed

You’ll need to apply for a school place if your child is being assessed for special educational needs. Your child may miss out on a place at your preferred school if you don’t apply and they don’t get an EHC or SEN Plan.

Applying for a school place  

Choosing a school

Every school has to publish information about how they teach and meet the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities. They should publish the information on their websites.  You can find links to each school's website in our school finder. 

Find a school  

Your child has an EHC or SEN Support Plan or is being assessed

You can tell us which school you’d like your child to go to when we create your child’s EHC or SEN Support Plan. 

We will talk to your preferred schools and your nearest schools. Your child may not be able to go to the school you choose. 

How we decide which school is right for your child

The right school for your child will depend on:

  • how suitable it is for your child’s age, ability and special educational need
  • whether the school has the resources and ability to teach your child and still teach other children 
  • if there is a nearer school that is suitable for your child
  • the cost of the fees if your preferred school is an independent school

We will name the school we think is best for your child on their EHC or SEN Plan. 

You can appeal if you disagree with the school named in your child’s EHC Plan.


You’ll have to pay for transport if you choose a school that is further away from your home than the nearest school that’s able to teach your child. 

School transport for special educational needs and disability  

Special schools

Special schools only take children who have a particular type of disability or educational need like blindness or a severe learning disability. 

You can tell us which special school you’d like your child to go to when we create your child’s EHC Plan. We will name a special school on your child’s plan if we think it’s best for your child. 

Independent Special Schools approved under Section 41

These are independent special schools providing specialist support.

The Department for Education publishes an approved list of independent special schools and specialist post-16 institutions, approved under section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

This is often called the 'section 41 approved list.'

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