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Transitions – changing school for any other reason (mid-phase transfers) for a child with SEND

There may be several reasons why you may be considering changing your childs' school outside of normal transition points:

  • unhappy with current placement
  • current placement unable to meet needs
  • moving house within Torbay 

Resolving disagreements about Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND) provision

Choosing a School for a child with SEN

Most children with SEN will be able to go to their local mainstream school. They will be taught with children of their own age. They will receive extra help from their class teacher or some other special help provided by the school. 

Find a primary school - Torbay Council provides a list and map view of schools in Torbay.

Find a secondary schools - Torbay Council provides a list and map view of schools in Torbay.

You may find it usefull to:

  • Talk to your child to find out thier preferred choise of new school. You and your child may have different reasons for picking a school and it is important to discuss these together.
  • Make a list of all the schools within a reasonable distance from your home - it will be important for you and/or your child to be able to easily get to and from school.
  • Check the school transport policy
  • Get familiar with the criteria for admissions (catchment areas and oversubscription criteria) which can be found in  TIPS 4 - In Year Admissions for primary and secondary schools and  schools’ admissions policies
  • Think about the kind of school site and environment you want: Is a faith school important to you? What kinds of playground space do you think suits your child? Modern or old school buildings? , and if you are looking at an alternative secondary school, What GCSE or alternative options do you think would suits your child? e.g. are vocational courses avialable? 
  • Look at school websites for prospectus and policies information and more.
  • Look at the school records on the Torbay Local Offer as all school records also have information lifted from each schools SEN Information reports included within thier school record to make it easy for you to see what the school says they provide for children with SEN.
  • Check the latest school Ofsted report - these should be published on the school websites but they can also be located on Find an Ofsted inspection report.
  • Visit at least two schools so that you have something to compare. Go to their open day and don’t be afraid to ask for another opportunity to visit again and speak to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENDCo).
  • When you’re at the open day or on a subsequent visit, make sure to look at all the areas that are important to you and get anwers to all your questions. You make find Checklist for Visiting Schools (SEND) useful.
  • Consider if the school already have all the things your child needs or they can easily be developed.
  • Talk to parents who have children at the schools you’re considering, but be mindful that they can only share thier own opinions and experiences
  • Talk to your child about thier preferred choise of secondary school again once you have explored the option with them.
  • Consider how important it is to your child to go to the same school as thier friends.
  • Try to keep an open mind until you have looked at all the possibilities and spoken to the relevant professionals.

Choosing a School for a child with an EHCP

Most children and young people with special educational needs can be taught in mainstream schools.

The Torbay Local Authority will always seek to place SEN pupils in mainstream schools providing that:

  • The school is suitable for the child’s age, ability and aptitude and the special educational needs
  • The child’s attendance is not incompatible with the efficient education of other children in the school, and
  • The placement is an efficient use of the LA’s resources.

If your child has more severe or complex needs, their needs might be best met by attending an enhanced provision within a mainstream school or a special school.

In addition to looking at our tips for Choosing a School for a child with SEN you may also want to consider the following enhanced provisions within mainstream schools and special schools. However, it is important to take advice from professionals and remember that the majority of specialist places are allocated following Specialist Education Provision allocation panel meetings held during the Spring term for places in the following September.

Enhanced provision within mainstream primary schools:

Enhanced provision within mainstream secondary schools:

Special schools:

  • Mayfield School Chestnut Centre - for children experiencing complex social, emotional and mental health difficulties - Primary (5-11 years)
  • Mayfield School - for children with severe and profound learning difficulties - Age range (3 –19  years)
  • Brunel Academy - for pupils with complex Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs - Secondary (11-16 years)
  • Combe Pafford School - for pupils who have Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD) including some pupils with MLD and physical difficulties and/or autism - Age range (7 –19  years)

Securing a school place for a child with SEN

Important things to remember: 

  • Primary Schools are not allowed by law to have more than 30 children in a class per teacher if the children are under 7 years of age, unless there are special circumstances.
  • If you wish to apply for a place at a faith school you will need to complete a supplementary form for your application to be considered on faith grounds (and therefore prioritised above other applications).
  • Putting a school as first preference does not guarantee that you will get a place at that school.
  • Places at Enhanced provisions within mainstream schools and Special school places are only allocated by the SEN Team via an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP).
  • If your child is currently undergoing an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment it is important not to presume an EHC plan will be the result.

Applying for a place

You must register for an online account to apply to move schools during the school year.

You should complete the Admissions form and put down at least two but preferably three schools. Places are allocated according to the distance from your home to the school. If there are more requests than places, the local authority will use the Oversubscription Criteria. Further information about the application process can be found in TIPS 4 - In Year Admissions for primary and secondary schools and schools’ admissions policies. You may also want to check the Fair Access Protocol - Torbay Council. Also, check if the school you want to go to deals with their own applications. For Post 16 applications you will need to contact the school to find out more about their application process.

If your child is not allocated a place at your preferred school you may be able to appeal.

Appeal against a school place decision - Torbay Council

Securing a school place for a child with an EHCP

The Torbay Local Authority will always seek to place SEN pupils in mainstream schools providing that:

  • The school is suitable for the child’s age, ability and aptitude and the special educational needs
  • The child’s attendance is not incompatible with the efficient education of other children in the school, and
  • The placement is an efficient use of the LA’s resources.

Usually your preferred mainstream school will be able to cater for your child’s needs. You should apply in the same way as all other parents, either online or using a paper form.

Admissions for pupils with EHC Plans will be managed by our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) section who will follow the SEND code of practice and consult formally with the governing body of your first preference school to establish whether the school can meet your child’s needs. We will also consider whether this is a good use of the council’s resources. A school cannot refuse a place simply because your child has special needs.

If your child has a new Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) you will be asked to name your preferred school during the draft stage prior to the EHC plan being finalised. If your child is currently undergoing an EHC needs assessment it is important not to presume an EHC plan will be the result.

If your child already has an EHCP in place at pre-school it will be amended following an Annual Review. This is also a good opportunity to update the outcomes and needs of your child within the EHCP. You will be asked to name your preferred school during the draft stage prior to the amended EHC plan being finalised. It is therefore helpful if you and your child start visiting possible primary schools in advance of the Annual Review.

If you would like to discuss the school, college or provision that is named in the EHC plan then you can contact you assessment and placement officer. If you disagree with the setting or provision we have named you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

Transition planning

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) often find change difficult. As part of transition, schools, educational settings and families must work together to create a plan for your child. The plan should be in place to help with any specific needs, strengths, interests and potential anxieties and learning styles.

The move should be part of a process, rather than a one off event, allowing your child to feel confident and happy when the time comes.

When your child is moving up to primary school into reception class, arrange to visit and talk to staff about your child’s needs and how you help them at home. This would also be part of the planning meeting as school would be invited to attend

Arrange for your child to visit their primary school as often as they need before they start. (Additional visits are often agreed and supported where possible by the education setting staff)

Try to spend time in key areas of the school when they are empty for your child to get used to the classroom.  Ask if your child could meet their new teacher, teaching assistant and any other support staff on their own. (take photos for a book or ask if school would provide one)

If you have any concerns about your child’s progress when they have started school, arrange to meet their teacher or the school Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCo).

Transitioning children with SEND from their EY setting to school will almost certainly be more complex than the support needed for most other children. Children with SEND will face challenges of adjustment and adaptation and will need time and planning by the adults to ensure a smooth transition. They may need individual care plans and risk assessments, and school staff may need to be trained in the use of medical equipment, adaptive aids and emergency medication.

  • The child with SEND may need a longer period of preparation and adjustment
  • Parents/carers may be concerned that the new setting will not be able to offer the expertise and level of support necessary to support their child. Cultivating a trusting partnership with the school will be important for the parent and the child
  • Professionals involved with the child with SEND will need time to support school staff, share ideas and/or specialised equipment. School staff will need clear and updated information about the child, best gained from the parent and the EY setting. Everyone will have a part to play in making the transition successful

Additional and Different support - what schools are expected to provide

Every child or young person with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age. Schools must identify pupils who have SEN and need extra help through SEN support. Schools should involve parents in this process. For further information please see:

SEN Support in Mainstream Schools | Torbay FIS Directory ( 

More detailed descriptions of the special educational provision the Local Authority (LA) expects to be available for children and young people in its area who have SEN or disabilities and how SEN funding works can be found in: