Choosing a School

The below information is a check-list of areas for your to consider when choosing a school:

  1. The School.
  2. Staff.
  3. Curriculum.
  4. Admission/Acceptance of Pupils.
  5. Specialist Help for SpLD/Dyslexic Pupils.
  6. Specialist Tuition.k
  7. Parent Contact and Reports.
  8. Parental Choice.
  9. Special Schools.
  10. Further Information.​

1.The School.

Obtain a prospectus of the school (whether Local Authority (LA) maintained or independent fee paying) and check, where applicable:

  • Age range of pupils.
  • Sixth form facilities.
  • Extra curricular activities
  • Obtain copies of handouts to parents on Special Needs Arrangements and provision.

Parents should try to visit the school on a normal working day and remember to make notes of general impressions and personal comments on the school.

2. Staff.

  • Try to meet as many staff as possible.
  • Check the prospectus or ask how many staff there are, including part time and visiting consultants.
  • Are there special needs staff with qualifications in SpLD?
  • What training do all staff have in understanding and supporting SpLDs
  • How will all staff be made aware of a child’s SpLD Difficulties?
  • Are teachers sent on any short courses on supporting SpLDs?

3. Curriculum.

Check the prospectus and ask about:
How rigidly is the national curriculum delivered?

Flexibility is more important than breadth. Right of access to the national Curriculum must contain access to the skills necessary to benefit from it.

How many GCSE does a typical dyslexic take?

Look at a home work time table and ask how the homework is supported.

Foreign languages.

Is there a choice of languages that include more dyslexia-friendly languages?
Is there an option for a foreign language to be disallowed for dyslexic children struggling with their own language?

See Modern Foreign Languages

Physical Education.

  • What facilities are available for individual activities other than team games?
  • Awareness of PE staff of co-ordination difficulties associated with SpLDs.

4. Admission/Acceptance of Pupils.

Ask about the policy for acceptance of pupils with SpLDs.
Ask about accommodations in any entrance exams for pupils with SpLDs.

5. Specialist Help for SpLD/Dyslexic Pupils.

  • You and your child must meet the staff who will be giving the specialist help.
  • Ask if extra/special support is available in other subjects, as well as English, i.e. maths, history, science.
  • What help is offered for study skills?
  • What are the SpLD qualifications of any staff carrying out Access Arrangement tests for exam accommodations?

6. Specialist Tuition.

  • Is there provision for one-to-one support from a Spld qualified teacher or TA?
  • How does the specialised tuition fit into the general timetable? (Cutting out subjects/activities children particularly enjoy should be avoided).
  • Is any special equipment employed e.g. computers, iPads, assistive software?
  • Is there an additional fee for the specialised help? (Some independent schools make an extra charge, others do not).

7. Parent Contact and Report.

  • is there an opportunity to discuss a student’s progress?
  • How often are reports sent home?
  • Do reports include detailed and constructive assessment of progress?

8. Parental Choice.

Parents have a right to express a preference for a maintained school. In general, if there is room in the school, a child must be admitted if the parents wish him/her to attend. If their child is not admitted to the school of their choice, parents have a right to appeal which must be explained in the letter refusing their child a place.

9. Specialist Schools.

A few schools have been approved by the Department of Education under Section 347 of the 1996 Education Act as being specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties.

There is a register of schools supporting dyslexic pupils, mainly fee paying called CReSTED (A few are state schools.)

Local Authority Special Schools are not usually appropriate for pupils with SpLDs such as dyslexia. Staff at these schools are not normally trained in supporting dyslexic pupils.

It may be possible to obtain a Statement of Special Educational Need or an EHC Plan to cover the fees for a specialist dyslexia school. If an application is refused, parents can appeal to the SEND Tribunal

10. Further Information.

  • CReSTeD checklist for Parents can be found by following the link on the BDA website.
  • Good Schools Guide Search by Dyslexia.