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This is the new East Sussex Local Offer. We have launched a test version of it in November 2021 and are inviting residents of East Sussex to help us refine it. The final version will be launched in January 2022. Find out more >>

Special Schools

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School Age (5-16)


Special schools are for children and young people with complex and significant learning needs that cannot be met in the mainstream schools (meaning a school that all children can attend).

We are fully committed to inclusion and most children and young people with SEND will thrive in their mainstream school; however, a small number of children and young people with a significant range of needs, which cannot be met in a mainstream school, may be placed in a special school.

 There are special school places for all school age groups, including primary and secondary and college. Some special schools are specialist in particular areas of educational needs and some are residential.

The Types of Special School

While all Special Schools offer teaching to children with significant needs, there are differences in how they are funded and who manages them. Special schools are either:

Section 41 of The Children and Families Act 2014 distinguishes between two types of Independent special schools:

All these types of special school are available in East Sussex and in the first instance the Local Authority will explore options in the schools where the Local Authority control admissions.

See the 'Special Schools in East Sussex Area' section below, to find out more about Special Schools and Schools with Special Facilities around East Sussex.

When to Consider a Special School for Your Child?

Children and young people require an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to access a special school.

Parents and carers have a right to request a special school placement for their child if they feel it will be the most appropriate setting for them. This will be considered by the local authority and a decision made based on the child’s individual needs. If you believe your child would benefit from being in a specialist setting you should consider the following steps:

For further information:

Visit the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) pages

Reasons you may decide that mainstream education is best for your child:

Reasons you may decide a special school is best for your child:

Discussing The Future

Choosing Special Schools in EHCP Process

During the process of nominating a school, the parent or carer, and child or young person have a right to name any special school they feel is suitable.

East Sussex County Council will follow the procedure of assessing the viabilty of the school nominated using guidance given in the Children And Families Act 2014. This will include consultation with the nominated school, or the local authority the school resides in if out of area.

East Sussex County Council will secure a place in the nominated school unless (paraphrasing Section 39 of the Children and Families Act 2014):

For more detail on this, please follow this link to Section 39 of the Children and Families Act 2014:

Scope provide guidance and information on choosing a special school for your child. To see this guidance, please follow this link:

Special Schools in East Sussex Area

There are various special schools, nurseries and colleges throughout East Sussex that specialise in different areas.

You can visit our directory on 1Space to see academies and maintained special schools and schools with special facilities across East Sussex, by clicking the below link:

You can also find independent and non-maintained schools (INMS) and colleges listed on the government website, by clicking the below link:

Parents and children can express a preference for any school on the approved list. No placement in such schools would be accepted without the local authority’s agreement. This is to ensure that such placement would represent the most efficient use of public resource.

Out of Area Placements

In the first instance, it is appropriate for children who are resident in East Sussex to access East Sussex schools when required, rather than travel out of area to schools within other authorities.

There are advantages to accessing ‘local’ special schools in terms of agreed working practices between East Sussex special schools and practitioners within ISEND who might be supporting your child.

However, it is within the rights of parents, carers or the child or young person themselves to request that they attend a school out of area. This is most commonly requested because:

For more information, speak to the Assessment and Planning Officer in ISEND  currently supporting your child’s EHCP.

East Sussex have borders with Kent, and West Sussex. If you are interested in visiting the special school sections of their Local Offers, please see links below:

Teacher lecturing a class of students

Alternative Provision and Dual Registration

Some mainstream schools have a specialist facility within them e.g. providing additional support for children and young people with for, example, speech, language and communication difficulties or Autism. This helps them meet the needs of children with a higher level of SEND. The provision within the facility is expected to enable the children and young people to access mainstream lessons with their peers.

Glossary of Terms Used on This Page

Maintained School: Schools in England that are funded by a local authority (the Council) and retain a management relationship with the local authority. This excludes academies, free schools, and private schools, which control their own budget and management.

Mainstream school: This is a school that provides education for all children, whether or not they have special educational needs or disabilities. Mainstream schools includes maintained schools, academies and free schools. Mainstream school does not include private schools, fee-paying schools or special schools. In short, schools that are accessed through the standard admissions process are 'mainstream' and schools that manage their own admissions process (for example fee-paying schools) are non-mainstream.

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