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Choosing a School


Choosing a School

Choosing a setting for a child is an important decision to ensure that they get the best out of their education, and one that many parents find difficult. When choosing a school, there are a number of things to think about which may or may not have an impact on its suitability for your child. The best way to determine their suitability is by finding out as much information as possible about the school and making your own judgement about it.

One parent's idea of what makes a school ideal, can be very different to another parent. It's a bit like buying a house - you wouldn't buy one because someone said you should, without having a look first! And the things you might not be able to see, might come out in a Surveyor's report (or in this case, maybe an Ofsted report, SEN Information report, exam results tables, or transport details etc) - it's all about what is important to you and your child.

Within these pages you can find a few things to think about when deciding on your preferences. And remember, there is no set timetable for when to start thinking about it - the earlier the better!


Visiting a new school


Questions to ask


For parents and carers of children with

Autism (ASD)

You know your child better than anyone and you will know what is relevant to their needs. The importance of the following areas will largely depend on the particular nature of your child's difficulties. You may not need to ask every question.


  1. Information the school needs from you

(Make a note of these details prior to your visit)



  1. Details about your child's needs – for example:
  • Does he/she have an Education Health Care Plan?
  • The support your child needs in school.
  • The nursery setting he/she has attended.


  1. The names and contact details of the professionals who work with your child.


  1. The support your child may need at lunchtimes, break-times and school visits/trips.


  1. Your child's medical needs - including any medication he/she takes.



  1. Information you may need from the school


  1. In primary school, what size are the classes and how are they organised? For example, are there any mixed year groups?


  1. Do the classrooms have their own toilet areas?


  1. What are the school hours, including lunchtimes and breaks?


  1. What are the support arrangements for children at break and lunchtimes? Where do the children eat? Do children who have packed lunches eat in the same place as children who have school dinners?


  1. How many school staff are available to support children in class? What is the adult to pupil ratio?


  1. Can you see a timetable on display in the classroom? Could a visual timetable be made available?


  1. What are the noise levels like inside as well as outside the classroom? Look out for movement around the school and consider playtimes.


  1. Are there clear boundaries in the playground, for example fences and secure barriers?


  1. Where do the children do PE and where do they change?


  1. Are there other children in the school with similar needs to your child?


  1. If your child needs 1:1 work, where will this take place?


  1. Does the school have a system for a child to:
    • rest
    • calm down
    • have a 'time out' as part of their behaviour management?


  1. How does the school deal with bullying?


  1. How can parents get copies of the school's policies, including its anti-bullying and SEN policies?


  1. What is the staff's experience in understanding your child's needs? Do any of the staff have specialist training in ASD?


  1. Can parents have a copy of the school's prospectus?


  1. How does the school keep parents informed about your child's progress and other matters? For example, home to school diary?


  1. How do you arrange meetings with the class teacher, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or the Headteacher?


  1. During your Visit


Make a mental note of the following:


  • Is the school welcoming?


  • Do the pupils and staff seem happy – what are the relationships between staff and pupils and pupil to pupil like?


  • Are you encouraged to see the whole school?


  • Look at the displays and notice boards – are they attractive, do they reflect the ability of all pupils?


  • On a visit to the classroom – how is it organised?


  • Is there sufficient access to all buildings/classrooms to meet your child's needs?