Finding and Applying for Schools
It is important you find a school you are happy with and you feel your child can thrive at. This is whether you are looking for a primary or secondary school.
All mainstream schools provide support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Any school that your child goes to will take their needs seriously and provide appropriate learning opportunities.
There is a difference in how schools admissions works for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and those with SEND but who do not have an EHCP.
This page will explain the different processes.
Applying for School Without An EHCP
If your child has SEND but not an EHCP, they should apply for a mainstream school alongside other children their age. This includes primary school and secondary school.
All schools are able to support children with SEND. Your child’s pre-school or primary school will help communicate what support your child needs to make sure there is a smooth transition.
It is important to visit the school you would like to send your child to and speak to them about your child’s needs. Ask to meet with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). All mainstream schools have a duty to meet the needs of children with SEND. This is set out in the national SEND Code of Practice.
To apply for a school in East Sussex, visit the East Sussex County Council Admissions' page.
You can read the SEND Code of Practice on the Government website:
Applying for School With An EHCP
The admissions' system for children with an EHCP is different. You do not go through the normal admissions' system.
Part of the process of obtaining an EHCP involves naming the school you and the team supporting your child feel is the best match for their needs. This means that you can express a preference for the school you want. This can be either at the time you first get the EHCP or when your child moves to a different phase of education. East Sussex County Council will try to provide a place at the named school.
You can also ask for a change of school at an annual review.
For more information, visit our pages on Education, Health and Care Plans.
IPSEA (the Independent Provider of Special Education Advice) offers free and independent legally based information, advice and support. They help get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of SEND.
They have advice and guidance for parents and carers of children with EHCPs on choosing schools that can be useful to read:
Exploring Which School Is Best Suited to Your Child
There are different ways of exploring which schools might be right for your child:
SEN information report
The Children and Families Act 2014 says that a Special Educational Needs (SEN) information report must be published on a schools' website. They must review it every year. The report must be prepared by:
- the governing bodies of maintained schools and maintained nursery schools in England
- the proprietors of Academy schools
The SEN information report should provide information about:
- the arrangements for the admission of children with disabilities at the school
- the steps taken to prevent disabled pupils from being treated less favourably than other pupils
- the facilities provided to assist access to the school for disabled pupils
- an accessibility plan prepared by the governing body or proprietor
When choosing a school for your child, it can be very helpful to read this report and make a decision.
You can read the Children and Families Act 2014 on the Government website:
The Ofsted report will outline how well the school was appraised during their last full inspection. It includes details of how the inspectors felt the school performed in supporting children with SEND. Most schools will publish their Ofsted reports on their websites. You can also visit the Ofsted website and search for different schools.
Visiting the school
If you feel your child requires specific support, it can be helpful to visit different schools and speak to them about what they offer. This will usually be during an open day alongside other parents and carers. You might also want to meet the school SENCo and talk to them about their SEND offer.
Amaze fact sheet
Amaze are a local free, independent and impartial charity. They have created a ‘Choosing a School’ fact sheet:
If your child has an EHCP you will have to decide which kind of educational setting is right for your child. This will be in partnership with your Assessment and Planning Officer (APO). Visit our page on Special Schools for more information.
Finding a School in East Sussex
We are fully committed to inclusion and most children and young people with SEND will thrive in their mainstream setting. This is a school or college that provides education for all children, whether they have SEND or not.
East Sussex County Council have created guidance for local schools, for educating children out of year group. The document is primarily aimed at schools, but may also be useful to read for parents and carers:
You can find more information on applying for schools in East Sussex by visiting the main East Sussex County Council website:
The East Sussex Local Offer directory, on 1Space, lists mainstream schools throughout East Sussex. These listings include useful information such as each setting:
- Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) contact information
- Accessibility information
- SEN Information Report link
- SEND-relevant staff training and qualifications
On the directory, you can further refine your options using the filters available. This includes filtering results down to specific areas, age ranges and accessibility features:
A few mainstream settings have a specialist facility within them. For example, a facility that provides extra support for children and young people with autism. This helps meet the needs of children with a higher level of SEND.
Some children and young people have a significant level of needs. This sometimes means their needs are not met in a mainstream school or a specialist facility. In this case, they may be allocated a place in a special school.
Please note, access to special schools and specialist facilities requires an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Special Schools and Specialist Facilities
The directory lists special schools and schools with specialist facilities in East Sussex. On the directory, you can further refine your options using the filters available. This can include filtering results down to a certain area of East Sussex, or by settings that provide for a specific need, such as for a child with hearing impairments:
Independent and Non-Maintained Special Schools and Colleges
Independent special schools are self-managed and not directly funded by the Local Authority, and accessing them can be a different process to mainstream settings.
You can find a list of independent and non-maintained special schools on the main government website:
The term ‘education transition’ describes any changes for your child as they are moving into, within, between and out of educational settings.
For more information, visit our page on Transition Planning.
Elective Home Education
Home Education is officially known as, Elective Home Education (EHE). This refers to the choice by parents to provide education for their children at home, instead of sending them to school full-time. This can be through making a positive choice to home educate, or in response to circumstances. Elective Home Education is the name for both journeys.
If your child has an EHCP and you would like to educate them at home, visit our page on EHCP: Elective Home Education.
If your child doesn’t have an EHCP, the process is different. For more information on this, visit the East Sussex County Council website:
Some children and young people do not attend school due to emotional factors. We describe this as Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA). Find out more by visiting this websites' section on Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA).
Additional Help and Support
Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity. They offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. Contact Amaze SENDIASS by:
Visit the Amaze SENDIASS web page.
East Sussex Local Offer directory of services
You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space. The directory lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services cover many topics, including:
- Advice, Guidance and Support Groups
- Activities and Events
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Support
Visit the East Sussex Local Offer directory.
NHS - Health A to Z
The East Sussex Local Offer aims to provide as much information as possible. There may be some conditions that aren't covered in thorough detail. The NHS website has pages that list all conditions. These pages provide information and advice on how to get extra support:
Visit the NHS Health A to Z web page.
Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms
We explain some of the terms used on this website on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.