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Schools: children with special educational needs

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Types of school

Mainstream schools and special schools

Mainstream schools can make provision for special educational needs, and can manage common conditions like asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.

Many children and young people with a statement of special educational needs or EHC plan will be taught in mainstream schools, but some may be taught in special schools.

Special schools are just for children and young people with statements or EHC plans.

Special schools with pupils aged 11 and older can specialise in 1 of the 4 areas of special educational needs:

  • communication and interaction
  • cognition and learning
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • sensory and physical needs

Schools can further specialise within these categories to reflect the special needs they help with like Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Some mainstream schools in Lancashire have a Special Education Resource Facility (SERF) – a class or department with extra resources and teachers to help children with particular needs. These are also just for children and young people with statements or EHC plans.

Maintained schools, non-maintained schools and independent schools

Maintained schools are state schools that are free to attend, funded by the government and run by the local council. Lancashire County Council maintains many types of schools across the county including special schools. In the schools section you can find out more about the other types of school we maintain.

Independent (private) schools charge fees to attend instead of being funded by the government. Pupils don’t have to follow the national curriculum.

Some independent schools specialise in teaching children with special educational needs.

If your child has an EHC plan, you can make a request for a non-maintained special school, or for an independent school or independent specialist college (where approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State).

The local authority must comply with your preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless provision there is considered to not meet their needs, not represent good value for money or would impact negatively on the education of others.

You may also request a place at an independent school or independent specialist college that is not on the published list of approved schools and the local authority must consider your request. The local authority is not under the same duty to name the provider and should be satisfied that the institution would admit the child or young person before naming it in a plan since these providers are not subject to the duty to admit a child or young person even if named in their plan.

Where an independent school is named on the EHC plan the local authority is obliged to provide the funding to meet the provision set out in the plan.

Short-stay schools

Short-stay schools are pupil referral units which provide education to pupils at risk of exclusion or who are permanently excluded from school.

More information