Choosing a school?

Article source: The Adopt South West Co-Production Group

When choosing a school, we outline a few things to think about:


  1. Ask other adopted parents in parent groups about schools they recommend in and out of your area; you want the best school to support your child’s needs and potential needs emerging; the local authority will have to support transport if there is no suitable school in the area, it is about finding the best school for your little on so take your time with this research.

Examples of online support groups might include

Educational groups

  1. Ask the same question to the local education, health and care plan (EHCP) and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) parents Facebook groups or parent forums, these might include:

Ofsted research

  1. Look at the schools recommended by the groups by checking the Ofsted report by doing an online search. /

You are looking for a ‘good or outstanding’ school; what does it say about supporting children with trauma, adverse childhood experiences or special needs? How do they support Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP)? What do they do with their pupil premium plus funding? Do they have forest school/equine therapy/swimming/yoga/mindfulness for children? How do they support sensory need? Do they have a quiet area for children to find a safe space? Think about what your little one enjoys and what is noted in the report.

School website – what is on offer?

  1. Have a look at the school website do they have a dedicated full time Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), do they have sensory breaks and can they tailor a sensory curriculum to suit additional need, do they encourage outdoor activities for children e.g forest school provision, do they talk about what clubs they run in school and after school support like a Lego club, chess club, art clubs (this helps children avoid busy playgrounds if they need to),

Visit a school

5. Arrange to view a school that ticks many of your preferred boxes making an appointment to meet the SENCo and Headteacher as you will need to talk about special needs provision. Let then show you physically around the school.

Questions you might like to ask or observe:

  • What specialist support is available?
  • Do they have experience of supporting others with similar needs, and what strategies have been effective?
  • How do staff pass information about your child or young person to other staff who may be teaching them? How do they work with therapists?
  • How do they communicate with pupils and parents and carers? Have they a ‘designated teacher’ to support children who are adopted?
  • Is there a designated ‘safe place’ for your child or young person if they are particularly vulnerable or need sensory breaks?
  • What qualifications do staff have in relation to special educational needs and trauma?

You might want to ask some questions about specific health needs, for example:

  • My child still needs pull-ups, who will provide support, is there a discrete cleaning area?
  • My child is likely to need 1:1 support could you support this with a dedicated worker? How does this work currently in the School?
  • How does the School support families in applying for or working with an EHCP?
  • Does the school work with the Virtual School Head to support children post care?
  • Could they accommodate you dropping off later and picking up early to avoid a busy playground?
  • My child or I attend regular hospital appointments, how do I let you know?
  • Often my child is exhausted after a hospital visit where I would need them to rest afterwards would the school support my child staying with me at home or could you adapt the curriculum to support 1:1 sensory work after that?
  • My child may need to attend therapy in school times, would the school accept this?
  • Are staff trained to give personal care?
  • My child is likely to have been exposed to Alcohol and or drugs in the womb and it is likely they may have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), do you have any experience of working with a child with FASD? If not would your staff take the FASD training needed? (if this one is answered well is the deal sealer as if they are keen to support you and evolve together then you will get a sense of how much support they will give longer term)

To note

This list comes from adopted parents experiences and is not an exhaustive list where it is suggested you can tailor it any way you wish to suit your child, asking other parents is really helpful as they will be totally honest with you. Lots of the parent forums will support questions through peer mentoring from parents so do please ask.

For more information please find a useful checklist found here on the FASD South West website along with supporting materials for in school support.