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Disabled Schools Guide

Choosing a Special School for a Physically Disabled Child

Choosing the right school for a child is always a big decision for any parent.

But when your child has a physical disability, it is even more important to find a school where you are confident that your child will receive the appropriate support and care, as well as an excellent education, to help them achieve their full potential in life.

Education in the state system

State schools and local education authorities are not allowed to discriminate against your child for reasons relating to their disability, and are encouraged to facilitate inclusion of disabled children in school life. In fact legislation places a general duty on schools to draft a Disability Equality Scheme which gives consideration to meeting disabled pupils needs, eliminating discrimination, and encouraging participation by disabled people.

Education at Special Schools

As an alternative to educating within the state setting, some parents of physically disabled children choose a non-maintained special school. What are the main benefits that a special school can provide?

  • Special schools provide education to children who have more challenging conditions such as cerebral palsy, who are in wheelchairs, or who have other physical conditions including those with associated sensory or cognitive difficulties.
  • A specialist school or physically disabled children will have teachers who are normally qualified in special education, as well as their own specialist teaching subject.
  • These teachers will usually work alongside specialist staff and professionals from a wide range of other disciplines including psychology, therapy, care and medicine.
  • A special school will normally take a more holistic approach to educating and caring for a physically disabled pupil, giving special consideration to medical support and independence.
  • Special schools will have made a greater investment in modern equipment to aid students with their mobility, communication and education.
  • Physically disabled pupils at a special school will usually be provided with a bespoke care package to help them learn and develop in the way that suits them best.
  • Often residential education is provided, in a caring and supportive environment where special attention is given to pastoral care. The experience of boarding can often help physically disabled children grow in confidence and independence.

Funding for Special Schools

Non-maintained special school charge fees for education and care, which may vary according to the level of support and specialist equipment a child requires.

These fees are generally paid by your Local Authority, sometimes with support from the Children’s Services’ social care department. If your child has significant medical needs, the LA may also involve the Primary Care Trust (PCT). In addition some pupils are privately funded.

If you have not already done so, you should first consult your Local Authority about your child’s special educational needs before confirming a place at a Special School.