Looking at secondary schools – some questions to ask
- What is the anti-bullying policy like?
- Do they promote positive images of children who are different?
- Does the school genuinely care about pupils of all abilities or only about the high fliers?
- Environment – how is the space arranged – e.g. colour coded areas?
- How many children are in the school?
- How easy is it to find your way around the site? Is it safe and secure?
- How far away is the school? How would your child get there?
Social and communication
- Will there be familiar faces from primary school?
- How does the school support friendships and social interaction?
- What happens at break and lunchtimes? Are there any lunchtime clubs?
- Would the new school work with primary school to settle the child in?
- Communication with parents – how is this done?
Teaching and learning
- How do they keep records – what kind of assessment do they use? How is this differentiated?
- Are children taught in mixed ability groups or in sets? If in sets, how are these organised?
- Speech and language therapy – is this available and how is it delivered?
- How do they differentiate the curriculum – are subject teachers involved or is it left to TAs?
- How do they use TAs? How many – are they subject based or allocated per child?
- Is there a separate learning support unit? Do children with SEN spend all their time in mainstream classes or are they withdrawn for a large part of the day?
- Is there an alternative curriculum at KS4 for young people who can’t manage GCSEs?
- How much homework is there? Is this differentiated?
- Is homework available on the school’s website?
- Experience of children with Down’s syndrome / willingness to undertake training?
- What is the specialism of the school? Is it set up for particular types of SEN?
- What sort of peer group would there be? This is important in terms of social interaction.
- Is the curriculum at the right level? Can young people gain qualifications?
- Does the school support alternative communication methods?
- Are there opportunities for practical and vocational learning?
- Are there good role models for behaviour?
- Are therapies and medical support available at the school?
- Sensory needs (hearing and vision) – is the environment suitable? Are there specialist teachers at the school?
- Transport – is this provided for all children?