Choosing a school

Choosing the right school for your child is a big decision for any parent. You will be looking for a school that will give them the best possible education, as well as the chance to make friends and get involved in new activities.

If your child has a learning disability, making the right decision becomes even more important, to make sure their individual special needs are met. This might mean making sure their teachers are able to provide them with the right support, or checking the school has all the facilities your child will need.

We are proud of our son's achievements and continue to be amazed at his development and involvement in school.

These pages have been written for the parents and carers of children with a learning disability to help explain the options that are available when choosing a school for your child. This includes finding out about the schools available in your local area and advice about visiting schools. Throughout the guide you will find links to other useful organisations and websites, as well as advice from parents who have already been through this process.

This guide contains lots of information on action you can take. You can also find a short explanation of important words and phrases in the ‘key words' section, and look for the 'What next?' sign for things you can do.

This information is also available to download as a PDF.


What kinds of school are available for my child?

Getting the right education for your child is an important step in helping them to make the most of their abilities and get the most from life.

Tips for choosing the right school for your child

Read our top five tips for choosing the right school for your child.

Arranging a visit to a school

Once you have put together a list of the schools that might be suitable for your child you can call each of the school secretaries to arrange a visit to each one.

Tips on preparing for a visit

Our tips will help you and your family prepare for a visit to your child's new school.

School Action

Most children with special educational needs will get the support they need from their local school.

Statutory assessments and statements

Most children with a learning disability will have their needs provided for by their school from its own budget.

Moving from primary to secondary school

Many parents have told Mencap that the move from primary to secondary school brings with it new challenges.

The main things you need to know

By knowing your rights, you can help to make sure your child has access to the education they need.

What do I do when I've decided on a school?

Once you have decided which school you would like your child to attend, you should contact the head teacher of the school and your local authority, particularly if your child has a statement of spe

What if I haven't been offered the school I want for my child?

Your next steps will depend on whether your child has a statement or not.

What do I do if I'm not happy with my child's school?

If your child attends a mainstream school and doesn't have a statement it is a good idea to speak to their SENCO and head teacher if you feel they are not receiving enough support.

Where can I get help to appeal?

Appealing can be a very stressful process and if your child has a statement there are tight deadlines, so it's a good idea to seek professional advice at this point.

Key words

Get definitions of some of the key words you may hear while looking for a school for your child.