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Residential special schools

Most children with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) are able to attend their local school. Others may find they need more support from a mainstream school with a special unit attached. You may have to travel further to attend such a school. However, if your child has more complex needs, you may feel that they require a different type of learning environment, such as a residential special school.

For many parents of a disabled child, choosing where to educate them is a very difficult decision to make. Your child may have attended mainstream school, but you may feel they aren't having all their needs met, or that they require more individually tailored support than the class teacher is able to provide.

There are not many residential schools throughout the country. Because of this, you may find that your preferred school is a long way from home.

Different schools specialise in different disabilities, so you should find out which ones are most relevant to your child.

How to find out about residential special schools

If your child has an SEN, the Local Education Authority must provide you with details of all primary and secondary schools in the area, including independent and special schools.

You could also contact a charity or disability organisation specific to your child's condition. They may be able to provide you with details about which schools are available for your child. For details of condition-specific organisations, contact the Carers Direct helpline on freephone 0300 123 1053. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and 11am to 4pm at weekends and bank holidays.

The charity Contact a Family has details of special schools across the UK. The Contact a Family helpline number is 0808 808 3555.

How to choose the best school for your child

Most schools have a prospectus or brochure outlining their aims and beliefs and what type of care they provide. This will give you a general idea of what they offer.

You can look at their Ofsted reports to see what rating they were given at their last inspection.

You should also arrange to visit the school and speak to the teachers and pupils if possible. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has produced a detailed guide (PDF, 511kb) about what to consider when choosing a residential special school for your child.


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Page last reviewed: 19/08/2013

Next review due: 19/08/2015

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

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