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Special Schools

Five people in an educational setting.

Introduction

Special schools are for children and young people with complex and significant learning needs that cannot be met in the mainstream schools (meaning a school that all children can attend).

We are fully committed to inclusion and most children and young people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) will thrive in their mainstream school; however, a small number of children and young people with a significant range of needs, which cannot be met in a mainstream school, may be placed in a special school.

There are special school places for all school age groups, including primary and secondary and college. Some special schools are specialist in particular areas of educational needs and some are residential.

When to Consider a Special School for Your Child

Every child with SEND can expect support from all schools, not just in special schools, which is outlined in the Universally Available Provision. This may be a good place to start in deciding whether mainstream education or a special school would be more suitable for your child. You can find out more by visiting our page on SEND Support at School.

Please note: children and young people require an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to access a special school.

For further information on EHCPs, visit our page on Education, Health and Care Plans.

Parents and carers have a right to request a special school placement for their child if they feel it will be the most appropriate setting for them. This will be considered by the local authority and a decision made based on the child’s individual needs. If you believe your child would benefit from being in a specialist setting you should consider the following steps:

Reasons you may decide that mainstream education is best for your child:

Reasons you may decide a special school is best for your child:

The Types of Special School

While all Special Schools offer teaching to children with significant needs, there are differences in how they are funded and who manages them. Special schools are either:

Section 41 of The Children and Families Act 2014 distinguishes between two types of Independent special schools:

All these types of special school are available in East Sussex and in the first instance the Local Authority will explore options in the schools where the Local Authority control admissions.

See the Special Schools in East Sussex Area section below, to find out more about Special Schools and Schools with Special Facilities around East Sussex.

Two people talking on a sofa.

Choosing Special Schools in EHCP Process

During the process of nominating a school, the parent or carer, and child or young person have a right to name any special school they feel is suitable.

East Sussex County Council will follow the procedure of assessing the viability of the school nominated using guidance given in the Children And Families Act 2014. This will include consultation with the nominated school, or the local authority the school resides in if out of area.

East Sussex County Council will secure a place in the nominated school unless (paraphrasing Section 39 of the Children and Families Act 2014):

For more detail on this, read section 39 of the Children and Families Act 2014.


Scope provide guidance and information on choosing a special school for your child.

Special Schools in East Sussex Area

Mainstream Schools, Specialist Facilities, and Special Schools

We are fully committed to inclusion and most children and young people with SEND will thrive in their mainstream school. This is a school that provides education for all children, whether or not they have special educational needs or disabilities.  

Some mainstream schools have a specialist facility within them, for example providing additional support for children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties or autism. This helps meet the needs of children with a higher level of SEND. 

A small number of children and young people with a significant level of needs, which cannot be met in a mainstream school or a specialist facility, may be placed in a special school.

You can find information on mainstream schools, specialist facilities, and special schools in East Sussex by reading the Apply for a School information booklet.

You can find information about special schools and schools with specialist facilities on the East Sussex Local Offer directory, hosted on the 1Space directory

Alternatively, you can search for all educational settings near you on the East Sussex County Council website:

Mainstream Colleges and Post-16 Providers

The Careers East Sussex website outlines education and training opportunities available for young people with SEND, including information about local mainstream colleges and post-16 providers in East Sussex:

Independent and Non-Maintained Special Schools and Colleges

Independent special schools are self-managed and not directly funded by the Local Authority. 

You can find a list of independent and non-maintained special schools and colleges on the main government website:

Out of Area Placements

In the first instance, it is appropriate for children who reside in East Sussex to access East Sussex schools when required, rather than travel out of area to schools within other authorities.

There are advantages to accessing ‘local’ special schools in terms of agreed working practices between East Sussex special schools and practitioners within ISEND who might be supporting your child.

However, it is within the rights of parents, carers or the child or young person themselves to request that they attend a school out of area. This is most commonly requested because:

For more information, speak to the Assessment and Planning Officer (APO) currently supporting your child’s EHCP.

East Sussex shares borders with Brighton & Hove, West Sussex, Kent and Surrey, who have their own lists of special schools:

Teacher lecturing a class of students

Alternative Provision and Dual Registration

Some mainstream schools have a specialist facility within them e.g. providing additional support for children and young people with, for example, speech, language and communication difficulties or Autism. 

This helps them meet the needs of children with a higher level of SEND. The provision within the facility is expected to enable the children and young people to access mainstream lessons with their peers.

Additional Help and Support

Amaze SENDIASS

Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity who offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. Contact Amaze SENDIASS:

East Sussex Local Offer directory of services

You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space, that lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services include advice, guidance and support groups, activities and events and mental health and wellbeing support among many other topics:

NHS - Health A to Z

While 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, with information and advice on how to get extra support:


Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms

Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.

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