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Questions To Ask Schools

There are a number of questions that you will want to ask when you visit schools to find the right school for your child with special educational needs. The exact questions you ask will depend on your child and also your concerns. The checklist of questions below gives you some ideas and of course you can add your own questions. It is usually a good idea to think through before visiting a school what you most need to find out about. It often helps to talk this through with a partner, friend or professional. The local Parent Partnership Service will be able to help you think through the questions that are most important for you and your child.

A) School staff

o What training in special educational needs have teachers had?
o Have teachers had experience of my child's special educational needs?
o How many teaching assistants are there in school?
o What training do teaching assistants have?
o Are the school staff positive or worried about teaching children with special educational needs?

B) Teaching and support

o Do teaching assistants work with individual children, small groups or the whole class?
o How much extra support would my child get?
o Do teachers or teaching assistants withdraw children for some lessons?
o Do you have sets for some or all subjects?
o How do you organise homework?

C) Children

o How many children with special educational needs are there at the school?
o How many children would there be in my child's class?
o What curriculum (lessons) will my child be offered?
o How would you monitor my child's progress?

D) Specialist support

o What does the SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator do?
o Are there any specialist teachers that visit the school?
o Do any speech and language therapists visit the school?
o Do other therapists e.g. physiotherapists visit school?
o Is there a school nurse at school?
o Are you able to store and give medication at school?

E) Building and equipment

o Are all parts of the school and grounds accessible for my child?
o Do you have any specialist equipment e.g. hoists?
o How many computers are there in school?

F) School policies

o Does the school have an inclusion policy?
o Does the school have a behaviour policy?
o Does the school have an ADD/ADHD policy?
o Does the school have a medications policy? and where is medication stored?
o How is bullying managed at school?
o Who is the special educational needs governor?
o Who is the parent governor?
o Who is the chair of governors?
o How are parents involved in the life of the school?

G) Out-of-school activities

o Are there after-school clubs my child could attend?
o Are there holiday playschemes or studyschemes?
o What school trips or outings are arranged?
o Are there any out-of-school activities my child could not attend?

As well as asking questions, there are many other things that you can find out on a visit to a school: -

o How happy do the children seem to be
o Do the staff you meet seem positive about your child
o Does the school have a good atmosphere
o Is the school itself well cared for
o Do the staff seem to value parents

After your visit you will need some time to think about all the information you now have before coming to a decision about whether this school is right for your child or whether you need to visit other schools. It is generally useful to talk this through with someone else, a partner, a friend or another parent of a child with special educational needs. The Parent Partnership Service is also there for you to talk through what you have found out about the school. You need to be aware that staff working for the Local Education Authority are not able to recommend particular schools. 2004

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