Recycling and rubbish collection days are also changing for some households in Mendip and South Somerset. Read about the changes and how they may affect you.

Schools

Your child must be receiving a full-time education the term after turning 5 years old.

Most children and young people with SEND can be supported to achieve their potential in mainstream schools. We expect all our schools to be inclusive and supportive places where all children and young people can learn, build relationships, fulfil their potential and be part of their community.

There are more than 350 schools in Somerset. Choosing a school can be a really big decision, especially if a child or young person has SEND . Below you can find out more about the different types of school or educational settings.

Somerset Choice Advice Service is for all parents and carers, and not just those of children with special educational needs. Choice Advice offers impartial information and support on schools’ admissions and the transition process.

Mainstream

What is offered?

All mainstream schools must publish their SEND Information Report, outlining how they support children with special educational needs and disabilities, on their website.  You can find a link to this using the find a school search.

You can view the graduated response of provision that the local authority expects to be available for Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities within Somerset schools.  Somerset special schools offer both in-reach and outreach support to their local mainstream schools.  Somerset Pupil Referral Units also offer outreach support to their local mainstream schools working with pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.

Evidence shows that a mixture of mainstream and SEND pupils in a school has benefits for both pupils with SEND and pupils without.  It teaches all pupils to be mindful of the needs and requirements of those around them, and allows for all pupils to make friends with children with a range of abilities and needs and from a variety of backgrounds. It is important for pupils to be access school as near to their local community as possible to maintain access to their community.

Find your local school.

How do you access?

All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these. Admission criteria are different for each school. Find out more in the Primary Admissions Guide or the Secondary Admissions Guide.

Children with an Education Health and Care plan have decisions about placement made under consultation with the school as part of the EHC and Annual Review process.

Enhanced Learning Provision

What is offered?

An Enhanced Learning Provision sits within a mainstream secondary school and delivers high-quality teaching tailored to pupils with SEND who have an identified primary need of Cognition and Learning.

An ELP uses a primary qualified teacher with additional training and expertise to effectively differentiate the curriculum to ensure accessibility to maximise achievement and progress primarily in core subjects, while supporting pupils to access the wider mainstream curriculum alongside their peers.

You can find out more information about each offer within the school’s SEN Information Report:

How do you access?

Children in an Enhanced Learning Provision may have an EHC plan. Children with an EHC plan have decisions about placement made under consultation with the school as part of the EHC and Annual Review process.

Children without an EHCP can still be supported through an ELP , and the decision will be made by the school if they identify this as an appropriate route following discussion with parent. All schools have admission criteria to decide which children get places. The school or local council usually set these. Admission criteria are different for each school.  Find out more in the Primary Admissions Guide or the Secondary Admissions Guide.

Resource Base

What is offered?

Resource Bases are attached to and are part of a mainstream school setting so that children identified as benefitting from access to a resource base have access to a blended learning program that offers the opportunity to access a mainstream curriculum and classroom as well as specialist support.

Pupils attending will have the ability to handle the regular curriculum and have the ability or potential to access the mainstream classroom for at least some schoolwork or extra activities. Children have access to smaller groups, specialist teachers and teaching assistants, and a specialist space for individual or small group work. You can have a virtual tour around Oaklands and Preston to see examples.

You can find out more information about each offer within the school’s SEN Information Report.

How do you apply?

Resource bases are not suitable for students who primarily have Social, Emotional, and Mental Health needs. However, students with a primary need of ASC needs may present with some Social, Emotional, and Mental Health needs may access this provision, as the specialised support provided in this type of placement should help to reduce those needs.

Children with a diagnosis of autism or significant social communication and interaction needs, and an Education, Health and Care plan, have decisions about placements made under consultation with the school as part of the EHC and Annual Review process.

Pupil Referral Unit

What is offered?

Pupil Referral Units provide education and support for pupils with medical, and/or social, emotional and mental health needs, and children who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion.

PRU help the local authority fulfil its legal obligation to provide education for children who are permanently excluded (day 6), unable to go to school due to health issues, or who are new to the area and can’t find a school that can handle their difficult behaviour.

PRU can also provide education, support and advice for children who are on the roll of a mainstream school for an agreed period of time. Often the children and young people are displaying challenging behaviour in school or need extra support that a mainstream school is unable to provide.

Find your local PRU

Find out more about medical tuition

How do you access?

Referrals for education provision and support from a PRU can only be submitted by a school or one of a number of local authority officers. Decisions about referrals are made by the Area Partnership Panel. Children, young people and their parents are involved in the process.

Alternative Provision

What is offered?

Alternative Provision refers to education for pupils experiencing difficulty accessing formal education for multiple reasons.

Alternative Provision providers can offer high quality off-site tutoring or therapeutic intervention services to meet children and young people’s varied and complex needs. Schools can use AP provision to prevent exclusions or re-engage pupils in their education, whether this is a return to a mainstream school, specialist provider or post-16 provision.

The Alternative Provision Directory shows a list of organisations currently offering a range of Alternative Provision services across Somerset. While Somerset Council is unable to endorse any organisation featured on the Alternative Provision Directory, each of the Alternative Provision providers has confirmed they meet a number of important standards including safeguarding, insurance and health and safety.

Schools and other educational establishments have a responsibility to ensure that pupils accessing Alternative Provision services are safe and are able to learn and achieve. They should therefore make sure that the outcomes for the delivery are clearly defined. The school or setting should also continue to ensure appropriate quality assurance checks are undertaken before commissioning an Alternative Provision provider and satisfy themselves that providers are not operating as unregistered independent schools.

Find local alternative provision

How do you access?

Alternative provision will not be full time, the child remains on roll at their school and access to provision should be a decision made in collaboration with the school, parent/carers and relevant professionals.

Special School

What is offered?

Special schools provide education and support for pupils with more complex or multiple special educational needs and disabilities, and an EHC plan, whose needs cannot be met in a mainstream setting. This may be at their main site, or through satellite provisions.

Children with SEMH , specific learning difficulties, hearing impairment and visual impairment will generally have their needs met in a mainstream school however, when it has been identified that specialist provision is required, they will be placed at special schools which cater for those very specific needs.

While the other types of need can be usually be met within one of Somerset’s generic special schools.  The curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of each student based on their identified special educational needs and outcomes in the EHC plans.

Special schools will have a range of facilities, such as sensory rooms, soft-play or therapy spaces, which allow targeted support to be provided for each student based on their individual needs.  You can take a virtual tour of Polden Bower, Fairmead, Selworthy Oakhill and Hazelbrook, and Sky College to see examples.

You can find out more information about each offer within the school’s SEN Information Report:

How do you access?

Children with an EHC plan have decisions about placements made under consultation with the school as part of the EHC and Annual Review process.

Independent, Non-Maintained Special School and Section 41 School

What is offered?

Independent schools (also known as ‘private schools’ or ‘fee paying schools’) and non-maintained special schools charge for pupils to attend and are not maintained or overseen by the local authority.

Pupils who go to an independent school don’t have to follow the national curriculum. Non-maintained special schools provide education and support for pupils with multiple and/or more complex special educational needs and disabilities, and have an EHC plan.

The Secretary of State decides which independent educational institutions, independent special schools, and post-16 institutions are approved, known as ‘Section 41‘.

Students may only learn and interact with peers with special needs not from their home community. They won’t be exposed to a wide range of influences.

Independent and non-maintained special schools may have a variety of specialist facilities on site which enable targeted support to be put in place for all students according to their individual needs.

Find a special school or independent special school

How do you access?

Where children or young people have an Education, Health and Care Plan, it is a key aim of Somerset Council that wherever possible, their needs are met locally, thereby enabling the majority to remain with their friends and family.

The local authority will only in exceptional circumstances agree to offer to place in a local independent or non-maintained special school if there are no suitable places in a local maintained special school and:

  • if the school is suitable for the child’s special educational needs,
  • if the head teacher agrees to offer a place
  • if the placement is an efficient use of public money

The school sets its own admission criteria and the Local Authority cannot order an independent school to accept a child or young person.  Children with an EHC plan have decisions about placements made under consultation with the school as part of the EHC and Annual Review process.

Elective Home Education

What is offered?

You can take responsibility for your child’s education outside the school system.

The education provided must match the age, aptitude and abilities of your child. It should also meet any requirements of Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities the child has.  If parent carers don’t make adequate provisions or don’t provide evidence of an efficient and suitable education when asked, Somerset Council have a duty to look for a solution. You do not have to be qualified or follow the National Curriculum.

Somerset Council do not pay for Elective Home Education and full financial responsibility rests with you, as the parent carer. Exam Boards can tell you where the local examination centres are when exams are taking place and any costs involved. Find out more about Elective Home Education.

How do you access?

When a parent carer chooses to withdraw their child from school to home educate they must inform the head teacher of their decision in writing.  When a child attends a special school that has been named in their EHC plan, the Council’s consent is required before the child may be removed from the school roll.  Parent carers are advised to ask the school for an acknowledgement of their notification to home educate.

If a parent carer commences home education without informing the school, their child will remain on the school’s roll. Any subsequent absences may result in Somerset Council taking legal action under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996, even if adequate home education is being provided.

Last reviewed: May 29, 2024 by Gemma

Next review due: November 29, 2024

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