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Top Things To Look For When Choosing A Special Education Needs school?

Education is a vital part of a child's upbringing and even more so when it comes to children with either autism or a learning disability. With the ne

Education is a vital part of a child’s upbringing and even more so when it comes to children with either autism or a learning disability. With the need to find a supportive education centre where they can feel confident and that can create a reliable routine for them to rely on Specialist school.

By correctly choosing a centre that puts their needs first, they can feel confident to learn and flourish into a happy and healthy child with a passion to learn.

If your child has a learning disorder, choosing a specialist education school is often recommended. This instead of a mainstream school can ensure that their individual needs are met, rather than being pushed to the back of the class which can lead to anxiety and anger. 

With a large selection of different specialist education schools available, finding the right school for your child can seem like a challenge. But it needn’t be. Keep reading to discover our top tips on what you should look for when choosing specialist education. 

Benefits of sending your child to a specialist school?

If you are doubting as to whether sending your child to a specialist school is the right decision, there are a number of benefits to a specialist centre. Nourishing and expanding your child while helping to contribute to a confident and happy adult, many children who struggle to cope within a mainstream school will find it as a relief to attend a school that caters to their unique needs. 

With many benefits, when sending your child to a specialist education school, there is a higher sta

ff to student ratio, while all staff are highly trained to meet the educational, emotional, social, physical needs of your child. From specialist swimming teachers, sensory rooms to the development of specialist material to help them learn, a specialist school is designed to make education fun while calming any worries that both you and your child may experience. 

Unlike a mainstream school where classes can have 20+ pupils within them, specialist schools are much smaller and on some occasions offer one to one classes. With the education that your child receives catered to their own individual needs, they can receive a target and a curriculum designed to expand their understanding and skills.

Although specialist schools are praised in their ability to tailor classes to the needs of pupils, they must follow the national curriculum, so you can be confident that they will learn the same topics as those in mainstream schools. 

What should you be looking for when choosing a special education needs school?

You are starting the process of choosing specialist education and have applied for your child’s ECHP plan, the time has come to look around the schools to discover which one is right for your child. Use these recommended points as a checklist to help you feel confident that you have made the best choice possible. 

The school

It is recommended when choosing specialist education to try to visit the school during open hours. This allows you to see pupils and how the school operates, for a fuller examination.

Review the facilities, the cleanliness of the place and ask to see all areas of the school, leaving no stone untouched. 

  • When looking around, did the representative showing you around seem knowledgeable, were they helpful and did they appear pleased to answer your questions?
  • Were you given the opportunity to take to both staff and students
  • How does the school score in the Ofsted inspection and was a report available? 
  • Does the specialist school have trained teachers and specialist consultants on hand, such as speech therapists and nurses

Staff and fellow students 

-When inspecting and choosing specialist education, you should ask yourself, did the student appear happy

-Did the staff and pupils get on with one another? Did the pupils appear confident and secure with their teachers?

-Does the school cater to your child’s disability and do they have specialist trained teachers on hand? 

-Can you picture your child at this school, laughing and playing with other children? 

-Did you witness a sense of passion and enthusiasm amongst staff towards their vocation?

-What is the staff to student ratio at the school and do staff conduct further training?

The classroom

-When looking around, ask the number of students within a class and how many teachers and assistants are also in attendance?

-Are the classroom an inspiring and fun place or dark and gloomy? 

-Does the classroom contain and quiet area, activity zone?

-Are there any sensory features for your child to calm them and lower their anxiety when it arises? 

-Does the school offer a unique and individual plan and target for the child?

You have reviewed the school, spoken to the teachers and popped your head into a class in action, the final deciding factor when choosing specialist education and that should be your gut. 

If when reviewing a school, something just doesn’t feel quite right or you cannot picture your child learning and playing in the setting in front of you, then it is not the right school for you.

With the school being a place that your child can thrive and develop in, making sure that the school meets their individual needs is the important deciding factor.


With specialist education needs schools recommended as an alternative for mainstream schools for students with autism or learning disabilities, choosing where to send your child can appear to be a hard task.

Choosing specialist education shouldn’t be daunting. Instead by following and using our suggested points as a checklist, you can effortlessly find the right school suited to the needs of your child.

By visiting the school during opening hours, speaking to both students and staff and by checking the facilities available, you can get a clear and full picture of the school you are considering.

Have you gone through the process of looking for a specialist education school, or perhaps you are about to start looking for yourself? We would love to hear from you and discover your own experience of this new experience. Comment below and comment today.

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