Your next step is to find out about local schools. Get a copy of your local authority’s composite prospectus – this is a brochure which describes all the mainstream schools in your area. It is usually on the council website, but if you have trouble finding it, phone your council and ask the school admissions department to send you a copy. If you are interested in schools in a neighbouring local authority, get hold of a copy of their composite prospectus too.
If your child has a statement, you should have been given a list of special schools, independent schools, and mainstream schools when your child’s statement was drawn up, or when it is time for them to move schools. If the list is missing or incomplete, phone the SEN department and ask them for more information.
Understanding the types of state funded school
State funded schools are either mainstream or special. Mainstream schools take all children including pupils with special educational needs. The majority of pupils with statements attend mainstream schools.
All children who attend state maintained special schools have a statement or may be undergoing a statutory assessment for a statement.
There are many types of mainstream school and this affects who makes the admission rules and who organises appeals. The local authority does this for community schools and voluntary controlled schools; the governing body does this for voluntary aided (e.g. faith schools) and foundation schools.
Wales has no academies or grammar schools. The general ban on selection by ability includes the ability to speak Welsh. Local authorities are expanding their Welsh-medium and bilingual provision with the aim of enabling access to all parents that choose this. One in 20 primary age children in Wales already attends a Welsh-medium or bilingual school.
Disability charities sometimes run special schools, so check out their websites. The Good Schools Guide provides information about state and fee-paying special schools (see 'Links to other websites' on the right).
Once you have the names of schools, begin by looking carefully at each one.
How to find out information about schools
You can ask a school for a copy of its:
- school prospectus
- governors’ annual report to parents
- Special educational needs policy
- accessibility plan
- disability equality scheme
- home school agreement
- behaviour policy
- anti-bullying policy.
You can also:
- Check out the names of schools and where they are on the NGfL Cymru website (see 'Links to other websites').
- Look up the school’s latest inspection report (by following links from the online school profile or via Ofsted’s website - see 'Links to other websites'). The report grades schools according to how well the pupils are doing and often includes information about the school’s special educational help and facilities.
- If you haven’t got your local authority’s composite prospectus, look it up on the council website or ask the admissions department to send you a copy. Remember the admissions process is different for children with a statement so, if your child has a statement, ignore the application form at the back of the prospectus. See How to apply.
- If you want information published by local authorities and school governing bodies in a language other than English or Welsh, or in Braille or audio tape, they must provide it free of charge. If you cannot access the Estyn inspection report online, ask the school for a paper copy, or ask Estyn for the report in an alternative format such as large print or Braille.
The governors’ annual report must tell you about
- Admissions of pupils with disabilities.
- The steps they have taken to prevent disabled pupils being treated less favourably than other pupils.
- Facilities that help disabled pupils attend and take a full part in the school.
- How they plan to improve access to the school for pupils with disabilities.
- How the special educational needs policy is carried out and any changes they have made to the policy during the last year.