Starting School: Choosing a school
Choosing the right school for your child can feel like a big decision. As such, it is good to start looking early at the schools that are close to where you live.
You can find out about the schools close to you by looking at the Croydon 2018-19 Primary School Admission Booklet. Be sure to check eligibility criteria for each school.
You can gather more information about what each school has to offer by talking to other families, looking at Ofsted reports and looking at the school website. You will be able to see the School SEND Information Report; this gives more detail about each school’s approach to supporting children with SEND.
Most importantly, make time to visit schools and see for yourself what they offer. Schools will have open days, tours or other events which provide the opportunity for you to talk to staff and ask questions.
You can also contact the school directly and ask to meet with the SENCO. This will give you the opportunity to talk about your child’s needs and find out more about how they will help your child to settle in and the extra support they can give. It is important the school knows about your child’s needs in advance so they can help your child to settle quickly and happily.
Once you have decided on schools you would like your child to attend you must apply online (details of how to do this are in the primary school admission booklet, link above).
Most children with EHC Plans can attend their local mainstream schools.
For a smaller group of pupils, a specialist setting (special school or enhanced learning provision) may be considered as more suitable by you and other professionals who know your child well.
For more information about specialist settings in Croydon go to ‘Types of Schools’ (Insert link).
Before making your final choices about a school for your child it is always best to visit and talk to staff at the schools you are interested in so that you can find out more about what they can offer.
If you decide that you want your child to attend a special school or enhanced learning provision you should express this preference as part of the draft EHC plan or as part of the EHC Plan transition review. The EY SEND team and your allocated EHC Plan coordinator will be able to guide you through this process.
The Local Authority will always seek to place your child in the school you want but any final decision will be based on whether the LA agrees that this school is suitable for your child’s age, ability and special education needs or whether placing your child at this school represents a good use of public resources and is compatible with the education of others at the school.
Once a school has been confirmed you will be notified and your child’s EHC plan will be amended to name this school. This usually happens before April so that there is plenty of time for you to plan and prepare a move to the named school.
If you are considering requesting a special school or an enhanced learning provision you must still apply online for a mainstream school too. (details of how to do this are in Croydon 2018-19 Primary School Admission Booklet. Do not put your preferences for a special school or enhanced learning provision on this online application.
You will usually have your child’s place at primary school confirmed by April, giving you, your child’s early year setting and the new school plenty of time to plan together so that the move is successful and the right support is in place.
Planning and preparation should include:
- Talk positively about the move to school.
- Depending on your child’s abilities and needs, encourage him/her to be as independent as possible;
- Help your child to use the toilet by themselves and wash hands.
- Practise dressing and undressing at home and putting on PE kit.
- Practise eating with utensils.
- Practise carrying a tray or pouring form a jug.
- Help your child to recognise their name.
- Go past the school or visit events such as the summer fair to increase familiarity.
With your setting and the new school:
- Check that arrangements are in place so that the school and setting can share information about your child’s needs and the extra help that has been in place.
Highlight areas of progress and successes and any special interests and skills your child has.
- Work together to draw up a one-page profile making it clear:
- What your child likes to do
- Things that might cause anxiety and stress and the impact of this might have on behaviour
- Strategies that help soothe and calm
- How they like to be helped – what works well.
- How they communicate, talking, gestures, signs of stress and anxiety.
- Make arrangements so that your child can visit the school to become more familiar with buildings and routines in the school day as well as meeting their teacher, if this is possible.
- Agree a date within the first three week of starting to talk to or meet with the school to check how things are going so that any emerging issues can be identified and addressed early.
For children with social and communication difficulties or sensory needs other tips to support the move might include:
- Photo booklet to support familiarity of building and staff, and routines in the day such as assembly, play and lunchtimes.
- Prepare and use social stories to help your child understand events and routines in the day which they may find hard such as such as lining up. Use simple language to explain what is expected and why.
- Information about dietary needs can be shared with canteen staff and lunchtime supervisors to avoid any misunderstandings for children with restricted food preferences or rigidity about eating patterns.
- Wash the uniform a few times before the first day – this will to take away unfamiliar smells or stiffness which might cause discomfort and stress from children with sensory needs.
The National Autistic Society have produced useful guidance on starting and moving school.