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Applying to Private School: Special Needs Child

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 16 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Special Educational Needs Private School

Applying to private school can be difficult, but if your child has special educational needs the hunt for the right school can be even trickier.

As a parent, you may want a mainstream school that will take into account your child's own needs or disabilities, or you may want a school that is specifically designed to meet the challenges of special needs kids.

A lot will depend, of course, not only on your budget but also where you live, and how far you are willing to commute every day to get your child into the school you believe will be the best one for them.

Mainstream Schools

Many independent schools accept children with a statement of SEN, or special educational needs, if they believe a mainstream setting is the appropriate place for them (as legislated in the Education Act 1966). Some, however, make it clear from the beginning that they would "prefer" that a special needs child go elsewhere.

It depends, of course, on the type of special needs that your child has – and the type of school you are looking for. A highly academic school, for example, that puts a great emphasis on keeping their exam scores high, may not freely welcome a child with dyslexia who they believe will "bring down" their academic standing. If your child has a very high IQ, however, and is bored in a state school, then this may not be the case.

Schools with a greater emphasis on overall personal development, however, may encourage children of all abilities to apply, and some academic schools may have special dyslexia units to offer support – Eton does – that sometimes come with an extra charge.

Many children with dyslexia, dyspraxia, mild autism and ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, do extremely well in mainstream schools. You are well advised to visit the school beforehand to discover what provision they can offer your child, and to speak with other parents of children with similar special needs to see how they fare in the same setting.

Special Needs Schools

Some of the best independent schools in the country cater to children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, or math disability. For some parents, this is a better choice than sending their special needs child to a mainstream school, especially if their needs or disabilities are more challenging than others.

Specialist schools cater to children with a variety of disabilities, including visual, physical, hearing or learning difficulties, autism, and behavioural and social problems.

When choosing a specialist school, it's important to look around carefully, and make sure it's the best one for your child. In some cases, parents choose a boarding school, where their needs can be met full-time.

Keep in mind that it may be possible to get financial help from your local council to cover at least part of the cost of a private education for your child, if the state school cannot meet his or her needs. Bursaries are also often available from the school itself. Some charities can also help advise on funding.

The Right Decision for Your Child

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most difficult decisions you will make as a parent, especially if your child has special educational needs. Some parents believe that attending a state school will give a child with SEN the support they need; others feel that a private education is better for their child.

If you choose to go down the private route, look at your child's strengths and weaknesses, and see how the school will address them. Visit the school, talk to parents in a similar situation, and try to discover how the school deals with kids who perform either above or below average.

Children with special needs often flourish in a private school, where the class size is smaller and they can benefit from more one-on-one attention. Look for a school with an open admissions policy, and talk in depth to other parents who have sent their children there. With a little research and leg-work, you can find the right school for your child.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi I’m looking for a secondary school for my daughter, she is currently in year 5, she has speech & language issues (speech dispraxia) and delayed learning skills (GLobal Development Delay) she is a very good girl, well behaved, she tries really hard at everything. We are looking for schools in the Southend area, stuggling to find a suitable one, any suggestions pls
Bunny - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:55 AM
Hi, My 12 years old niece is diagnosed as Global developmental delay, she is a lovely girl want to learn but i cant find good school for her, we are from Saudi Arabia, unfortunately we struggled with school there and i think i am having same bad experience in UK. I am in Manchester and trying to find a school for her, she is slow and cant write or read by herself she need help. anyone can help will be appreciated...
Bas - 17-Oct-17 @ 9:14 AM
Hi I’m looking for a secondary school for my boy he has speech & language issues (speech dispraxia) and delayed learning skills, he such a good, well behaved, very sorry, confident little boy who tries his best at everything.We are looking for schools in the Northamptonshire area, private or not but are stuggling to find a suitable one, any suggestions pls
Deb - 27-Sep-17 @ 1:08 PM
Anju - Your Question:
Hello, we are keen to move my son back to the UK to study his 6th form and thereafter. We are UK citizens and a UK status family living in HK for my work. My son would like to relocate back. He is a SEN student with social communication disorder (previously known as mild autism level 5 as it is now). He has been in LSC/SEN since primary 2. He is now in year 11 within a modified curriculum taking his igcse in biology and geography and functional maths and English. he has completed azdan, food and hygene and peers. We are local status UK residents and our home is there on which we pay our bills as well as council tax. please could you let me know how to find the right school for him as he will be leaving his current school in HK in June 2018 after he completes his exams. he will need to start in the UK in September 2018 in a school that is specialised to others similar to him. I would not want to send him to a mainstream school due to the stigma and judgement he has gone through in HK. thanks. Anju

Our Response:
You can see more via the Special Needs UK site here which should be able to help.
GetTheRightSchool - 8-Sep-17 @ 11:55 AM
Hello, we are keen to move my son back to the UK to study his 6th form and thereafter. We are UK citizens and a UK status family living in HK for my work. My son would like to relocate back. He is a SEN student with social communication disorder (previously known as mild autism level 5 as it is now). He has been in LSC/SEN since primary 2. He is now in year 11 within a modified curriculum taking his igcse in biology and geography and functional maths and English. he has completed azdan, food and hygene and peers. We are local status UK residents and our home is there on which we pay our bills as well as council tax. please could you let me know how to find the right school for him as he will be leaving his current school in HK in June 2018 after he completes his exams. he will need to start in the UK in September 2018 in a school that is specialised to others similar to him. I would not want to send him to a mainstream school due to the stigma and judgement he has gone through in HK. thanks. Anju
Anju - 7-Sep-17 @ 11:13 AM
Hi I have a 15 year old ADHD boy with mild Autism.We are in Mumbai right now where he goes to a centre for Autistic Individuals,they follow RDI programs where parents are trained to handle the kids.Everything is ok but I want him to go ahead in Academics as well. Also I am joining my masters degree course in New York this Fall 2017,he is coming along with me.Want the right curriculum,right learning environment and a right Mentor for him.He is very bright in Music,Arts,Sports and Drama.Want him to be very very happy where we will move and his holistic growth must happen. Please guide me the right people and the right place to approach.We will be at Hempstead near Hofsra University in New York.
GUDDU - 25-Jun-17 @ 7:46 PM
I teach a delightful 7 year old moderately autistic boy in an inclusive international school in Norway. The family have suddenly been told they are relocating to London. Can anyone suggest potential schools with support services? The parents have finances I believe to support him in private schooling if necessary.
Vix - 7-Jun-17 @ 11:02 PM
I am sorry if this sounds like I am a bit stressed out but I can not get a straight answer and I honestly have no options to turn to. My son is due to start mainstream school in September that was named on an EHCP by a panel that did not know about and I can not appeal (no one will even speak to me). I am exhausted with two sen children so right now I will take all the help i can get. I am trying to find schools that are ASD appropriate but its allways the same. No interview until the local authority say yes and they wont do that as my LA wont fund anything with out a fight (as in getting a lawyer that I can not afford). Does anyone know how I can break this cycle and if there are any ways that I can get help that dont include a 6 week wait for SENDIAS and spending 10 grand on an education fight program.
suluco - 12-May-17 @ 8:11 PM
hi i have a 16 years old son with autism, i would like to enrol him in a boarding school in uk, please advice me with the best special need school for autism in uk who accommodate my son , we are overseas family who dont have enough support in my country and i would like to find the best in uk. thanks
maiautism - 24-Apr-17 @ 5:34 PM
Hi I have a 10-year-old who is born with downs syndrome also attend mainstream school in Gloucester. I am looking for a mainstream school with small classes that will meet the needs any ideas which school would be best to view inGloucestershire. so far I have looked at some of the larger schools and feel they are too large any ideas?
SV62 - 26-Mar-17 @ 4:25 PM
Marta, I'm not sure where you live, however there is an amazing school in Staffordshire called anbotsholme.A real game changer if a school, very outdoors and what seem small classes and excellent teaching staff. Great provisions for dyslexia. I was in the same position last year and it's now my choice of school.
Subo - 14-Mar-17 @ 7:46 PM
Hi, I have a14 year old with cerebral palsy but bright academically who has been home schooled all along but want him to go to school this September . Is there a special secondary for cerebral palsy that he can attend in London as I think such a school will have all the equipments of training to help his mobility and independence. I was initially thinking of him joining mainstream. Thank you
Joy - 26-Feb-17 @ 10:05 AM
Hello to everyone i have a 10 years lovely girl has been diagnosed with dyslexia. I have to apply this year for a secondary schools and icompletely confuse because i don't know which school i have to look. I will like to apply for dyslexia private school but there so expensive and for normal school the SENCO help it is not sufficient as the government cut money to the school and they can't help the kids as they need. if anyone can help. thank you very much i will be appreciated marta 24-02-17
marta - 24-Feb-17 @ 4:22 PM
My 7 year old son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, he attended a mainstream school, and was doing well up until September 2016 where the big transition from moving term and different teachers was put in place, then things turned for the worst. even though he has a ehcp in place it was not put into practice and my son was not given the care and support he needed. This became a big problem for both of us. he was getting excluded frequently and is now permanently excluded without a school. My son is a very bright boy he catches on quickly but gets bored easily. I'm now been pushed to place my son in a Sen school but I strongly believe that is not the right setting for him. I believe the mainstream schools just cannot be bothered and would rather get rid of children with any special education needs. The school my son attended did nothing for him and made our life's a living hell. Now trying to get my son back into a mainstream is almost impossible due to bad reports given by his previous school. I am considering quitting my job and home tutoring.
Kez - 21-Jan-17 @ 8:23 AM
Hi. My 6yr old daughter has mild CP in her lower half which means she finds most physical activity a challenge. She is, otherwise, a happy, confident girl who is performing well at school. We would like to move her at the beginning of yr 3 to a private prep school (smaller classes etc) but are worried we may be putting her in a position that highlights her disability (as with most independents they offer a full sporting calendar) even though they offer arts and music also. Anyone else faced this conundrum - any POV's welcome x
NZ - 20-Dec-16 @ 7:00 PM
Hi all, i have an 11 year old son . He has never really settled in school and himself and all teachers are finding it extremely difficult at present. The teachers say he struggles to follow instructions, complete work, asks lots of questions as well as questioning everything and they find him very disrespectful. I ateend meetings throught the school weeks due to his behaviour. I know my sons not perfect but the things school have put in place have not been very affective and they can fail to be consistant with him soo in my sons case and schools case i feel they are both wrong. He has been restraint , put in isolation, internally and externally exculded a number of times and things are getting worse. My son dislikes school and teachers and doesnt trust anybody there. He feels he is mistreated as he has been called names by teachers , teachers have also lied which he picks up on and brings to their attention and is told of for things which have included him and another person but the other person doesnt get any punishment when he tries to explain himself they dont listen and say his being rude. Personally i dont think mainstream school is appropriate for my son since day 1 and dont know where to turn next. I have enough of discussing things with the school as we get nowhere and end up in the same situation within a day. Can some one give me some help of what to do next... this is just a short version but there is soo much more.
Misty - 6-Dec-16 @ 3:32 PM
12yr old ASD girl bullied so schl refusing due to severe anxiety.Where to go?NOT
Dondon - 28-Nov-16 @ 8:12 PM
Hi, I'm the mother of a 4 year old son who has recently been diagnosed with ASD. The doc refused to mention anything more. He said ds suffers from social communication and imagination issues. The report from the doc is still awaited. He goes to a local private school. The school has a very good reputation here and I'm not sure if they would be willing to make the adjustments for him. He seems to be doing ok at school but I'm really worried of his future. Should I be looking at private schools that are for special needs only or focus on his current school to provide the support. I'm not considering council for now looking at the wait time for evthg. I'm really worried. Pls advise what should I do.
MightySky - 17-Nov-16 @ 8:00 PM
Nati - Your Question:
I have a five year old who has just been diagnosed autistic, he doesn't have adhd or ocd with his. His main problem is verbal communication, doesn't talk or understand a lot of this you say, it's like when you are in a foreign country and you don't understand the language, we are teaching him each word before he can have an idea, but he can understand identity all letters and numbers which gives me hope that he can learn. He is in year 1 in school now but there has been no improvement as he his always out of the class but I don't know what he is doing outside class everyday, I know he is not going there for speech therapist, I feel there just take him out of the class and ask him to play with some toys. How can I approach his school and I can I get him into an independent school? I know that year 1 is when kids start learning more in which my son is no longer reaching the standard any more. Help

Our Response:
I have included a leaflet from the National Autistic Society which is looking at your son's symptoms from a teaching/classroom perspective which may in turn give you some perspective regarding the strategies the school should be taking and the questions you need to ask the school, please see link here . I have also included another link regarding the help you can get here. You may also wish to speak to the helpline for any other questions. I hope this helps.
GetTheRightSchool - 6-Oct-16 @ 10:39 AM
I have a five year old who has just been diagnosed autistic, he doesn't have adhd or ocd with his. His main problem is verbal communication, doesn't talk or understand a lot of this you say, it's like when you are in a foreign country and you don't understand the language, we are teaching him each word before he can have an idea, but he can understand identity all letters and numbers which gives me hope that he can learn. He is in year 1 in school now but there has been no improvement as he his always out of the class but I don't know what he is doing outside class everyday, I know he is not going there for speech therapist, I feel there just take him out of the class and ask him to play with some toys. How can I approach his school and I can I get him into an independent school? I know that year 1 is when kids start learning more in which my son is no longer reaching the standard any more. Help
Nati - 5-Oct-16 @ 9:42 AM
My nearly 7 year old has been diagnosed with ADHD, asd, Learning difficulties and school have said they notice symptoms of odd too, ever since nursery his behaviour has been consistent at home and school. His school he is at now have made allowances in year 1 and now he's in year two they are tired of doing so but before he left year one they told me to move closer to family (took personally as they can't be bothered with him) he is now 2nd week into year 2 and is on internal exclusion with this being last chance next is exclusion. Can I remove him out of school after he's done his internal exclusion (after so he knows his behaviour is not acceptable) I just feel his needs are t catered for as they admitted to me he's struggling with the work yet they were meant to sort his 1-1 worker for the start of the year but no surprise here is they haven't! They are quick to pass the blame but I find I manage my child Better then a school that deals with children with special needs, any advice would be great regarding my rights to possible home schooling
Kaci - 22-Sep-16 @ 10:34 PM
I feel the same way to my grandson is 11 and making our life's so hard he has FASD ( feotal alcohol spectrum disorder The system just keeps failing us he strips if anywhere he is abusiveviolent he makes my other two kids want to stay away from the home
Diane - 22-Sep-16 @ 4:16 AM
Anyone help I'm looking for a boarding school that can support my grandson with FASD ) featol alcohol spectrum disorder he is 8 and getting stronger I'm 50 and getting weaker
Diane - 21-Sep-16 @ 8:25 PM
Hi I am looking for a a residential school for my grandson who is 8 yrs old and have special needs (FASD ) feotal alcohol spectrum disorder He is getting stronger while I'm getting weaker anyone got any advice
Diane - 21-Sep-16 @ 8:22 PM
Hello, As per inquiry search over today from your website, here is the messagewith my inquiry. I am currently living in Sri Lanka, since 1979.i have 6 year old son,living in Sri Lanka is a victim of Autism. Unfortunately we failed to find any solution back in Sri Lanka until now. we are looking for a school, or any institute where son can get treatments or related education in overseas. Ithink may be dedicated schools or institute in UK where we can even pay to enroll as overseas patient/student. Therefore could you please send some information about any place we can put our son for treatments/education either paid or free of charge. Thank you very much, and looking forward to hearing from you soon
SHAM - 13-Aug-16 @ 1:50 AM
Candicerobinson - Your Question:
Hello. My 7 year old son has recently been put on SEN register although no formal diagnosis has been made, apart from that he 'probably has a mild learning difficulty.' He has some symptoms of ADHD and autism and is about one year behind socially, emotionally and academically. His previous teacher said my son was disruptive, aggressive and didn't focus. He is challenging at home also. I live in Great Notley, Braintree and I just wonder what would be the best schooling for him now and when he goes secondary school.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot recommend individual schools, you would be better taking advice from your son's current school to see what they suggest. Also, the Special Needs Schools in Britian may be able to help you find schools in your locality, please see link here .
GetTheRightSchool - 10-Aug-16 @ 10:09 AM
Hello. My 7 year old son has recently been put on SEN register although no formal diagnosis has been made, apart from that he 'probably has a mild learning difficulty.' He has some symptoms of ADHD and autism and is about one year behind socially, emotionally and academically. His previous teacher said my son was disruptive, aggressive and didn't focus. He is challenging at home also. I live in Great Notley, Braintree and I just wonder what would be the best schooling for him now and when he goes secondary school.
Candicerobinson - 9-Aug-16 @ 7:22 AM
Hello, can someone pls help. My daughter's secondary school in Basingstoke has decided to move her to a special needs school Without assessing her special needs. From her challenging behaviour: defiance, being rude to adults , not listening to school staff and self harming . She may have ODD, but no one at her current school is providing her with the support needed or at least being able to diagnostic her case. How can a special needs school accept a student without knowing what is her special needs. Any help also regarding state school dealing with ODD in Basingstoke and London in much appreciated. thanks
Mum challange - 27-Jan-16 @ 5:26 AM
Hi I am looking to find people's views or a link to Speacilist placement for my 10yearvold high functioning ASD son. In Surrey and boarders area he loves art drawing ,my son struggles in mainstream .thanks Also looking for advise as eldest son who is 15 has diagnosis of passive ASD ideally like information on college day release in media maybe work experience in that job sector kind regrets
Shorty - 19-Dec-15 @ 6:40 AM
Our question is related to our sun with only recently diagnosed ADHD who started secondary education at and independent school in September and who is now on his last chance after one day internal exclusion and two days of external exclusions. He is not on medication yet but will go on it as soon as possible. Our son was finally diagnosed with ADHD yesterday after a long battle with the mental health centre. He is now 11 1/2 and has always been quite a difficult child but as he has grown older his disruptive behaviour has had greater consequences. This became particularly to light during Y5 and Y6 in primary school when he was twice put into isolation for one day. At home his behaviour was also becoming extremely difficult with him attacking his little brother, not following instruction and unable to take a no. Unfortunately, we did not know enough about ADHD and we are still amazed that staff at his primary school was not trained enough to pick it up even though there were clear signs of ADHD after having now read the literature on it. Julian also had an art therapist in Y6 for about 10 weeks who did not pick up ADHD either. Julian has been doing ballet/step dance etc from when he was 3 1/2 and has performed in Christmas Panto and with the English National Ballet last year to perform Swan Lake. There has never been any incident with him at ballet school or when he has been performing on the big stage. In spring 2015 we finally got a referral to a mental health centre for children. He had already been seen by them several years ago because he showed panic attacks for a short while. They first told us they don’t think that anything is wrong with him despite us describing the situation to them. We did not accept their statements and kept pushing but it took until September that we could start a family therapy, where we talked together about the problems we have with him. During these sessions they noticed that he is very fidgety and told us about 2 weeks ago that there is now a suspicion of ADHD. We informed school immediately and started to read up on it. In early September he started secondary school and as we were extremely concerned about him and noticed that he struggles with very noisy environments we chose an independent school (S’Beds College in Manchester) where the class room size is about 15-18 students and the overall atmosphere feels much calmer than at state schools. The school is also very close to where we live, which was another important factor. During the first few weeks he did very well without any incidents but once the novelty aspect had worn off things started to change for the worse. One day after we were told that Julian might suffer from ADHD (school was also already aware by that time) there was a major incident at school when he run off and wandered around in the school building and could not be found for an hour. This resulted in an internal exclusion, i.e. isolation, for 1 day. About 10 days later, there was
mblssmp2 - 28-Nov-15 @ 11:39 AM
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