Choosing the right school

Things to think about before visiting schools

Deciding on a secondary school for your child is probably one of the most important decisions that you will make as a parent/carer. All parents want to choose the right secondary school for their child and you will want to involve your child in the decision. You should be able to be confident in making a choice with which you and your child can be happy.

Top Tip - When looking at each school, imagine your child there and think about what he/she will need to make a successful transition to secondary school.

Who can help?

It might be helpful to talk about the choice of secondary schools available with one of the people who knows your child well. This could be someone in your family or a lead practitioner at your child’s primary school, for example the special educational needs coordinator, (SENCo) or class teacher.

You can also contact the York SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (formerly Parent Partnership Service) to talk about your options. The York SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) is part of the local authority’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) Services. They provide impartial support, advice and information for parent/carers of children with special educational needs. The service is free and can be provided over the telephone, through home visits and via support at school meetings.

An error has occurred in processing the XML document

It is important to read the Guide for Parents. The guide contains information on York schools’ admission policies, free school meals and school uniform grants.

Top Tip - Start planning the move to secondary school towards the end of year 4 so that you can talk about your preferences and ask questions at the year 5 annual review or school planning meeting. Person-centred reviews are a good way to involve your child and support them to share their views.

Choosing the type of school for your child

Think about what type of school would suit your child. Keep an open mind at this stage and think about all your local schools.

The options are currently:

  • a local authority secondary school;
  • an academy;
  • an enhanced resource provision within a mainstream school for young people with autism;
  • special school and specialist provision for young people with complex needs.

Other options:

  • Some young people who cannot attend any of the above provision due to social, emotional and mental health needs, may be offered a place at the Danesgate Community School.
  • A very small number of children with complex needs may attend a special school out of York.

Draw up a list of schools that you would like to visit – you can visit as many schools as you want to. You may want to consider how close the school is to your home and how your child might travel to school. You may want to consider whether you want your child to move to a school with their friends or brothers and sisters, or whether a different provision/school would suit them better.

Details of York schools:

For a list of schools in York click here.

Each secondary school also produces its own prospectus. Please contact the school directly to obtain a copy. You may find a copy of the school’s prospectus on it’s website.

It is often helpful to talk to other parents about how their children are doing at school and if they are happy there. You could look at Parent View on the OfSTED website, where parents comment on their child’s school. You could also ask young people what they like about their school.

Top Tip - You can look at individual school websites to find out more.

If you do not have the internet at home, you can use the public access computer in your local children’s centre or library. You might also want to look at the school’s OfSTED report, which will tell you about what the school does well.


Making a choice

All mainstream secondary schools have an open evening during the autumn term, which is open to all. You may benefit from attending a number of the open evenings to look at different schools; however it is usually best to wait until you have narrowed down your choice, before taking your child on a visit.

You can also contact a school and ask for an individual visit to discuss your child’s needs and the support the school can offer.

When you arrange an individual visit to a school, let them know if you are bringing someone with you, for example a friend or a York SENDIASS officer. Try to ask the same questions in each school so that you can compare the answers. Members of staff in schools are used to having parents visiting and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Schools organise support for young people with special educational needs in different ways. It will be important to discuss how the school can support your child and their individual needs.

Top Tip - Think about whether you want to visit schools on your own or with someone else.
Top Tip - Look at the whole school not just the special educational needs aspects and try to imagine your child there as he/she gets older.

Local authority secondary school

A local authority secondary school is a school that is maintained by the local authority. This means it is funded and supported by the local authority.


"I can't wish for more that what they [York High] have done"- Personalised provision (January 2018,YPCF event)



An academy is a local secondary school that is not maintained by the local authority. This means it is independent of the local authority and is funded directly by central government.

Although academy schools set their own admissions policies, their admissions are coordinated by the local authority, and so you still need to apply to the local authority via either an online application or by completing a secondary common application form. You will also need to complete a supplementary information form.

Enhanced resource provision (ERP), within a mainstream school, for young people with autism

There are two specialist enhanced resource provisions (ERPs) for pupils with autism in York. These are based at Joseph Rowntree School and Fulford Secondary School.

These ERPs are for pupils with a diagnosis of autism, including Asperger’s and high functioning autism, who have a statement of special educational needs/an education, health and care plan or have been assessed to require SEN support. The ERPs offer young people support from experienced and well qualified staff, and a dedicated base they can access throughout the day as required.

Admissions are dealt with on an individual basis by the school and the Education Health Care Panel (EHC Panel). Admission is based on detailed assessments from relevant professionals and information from the young person and their parents. This will be discussed at the annual review in year 5. You can discuss the possibility of an enhanced resource provision with your child’s SENCo.

Special school and specialist provision for young people with complex needs

There are a number of options at secondary transfer in York for young people with complex learning needs who have a statement of special educational needs. These include:

  • full time placement in a mainstream secondary school with teaching assistant support as determined by the local authority, plus outreach support from Applefields School’s advisory teacher for complex needs; 
  • full time placement at Applefields School’s main site;
  • full time placement in Applefields School’s satellite provision based within a mainstream secondary school;
  • dual placement at Applefields School and a mainstream secondary school with outreach support from advisory teacher for complex needs

In York, Applefields School provides education and outreach support for young people with moderate, severe and profound learning difficulties aged 11 – 19 years. The school also supports a significant number of young people with complex autism as an additional need. The school provides young people with a broad, exciting and challenging curriculum to help them develop their communication, personal and social independence skills and confidence in preparation for life after school. Young people are supported by a multi-disciplinary team of teachers and teaching assistants. Additional support is provided by nursing, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy staff who are based at the school. The school is well equipped with specialist curriculum facilities, a hydrotherapy pool and teaching resources.

Further information is available through the school Newsletters and their Twitter page.

In addition to the classes and facilities on the main site, Applefields School has a partnership arrangement for an inclusive satellite provision based at Manor CE Academy. Students based in this provision are on the full time roll of Applefields School, are taught by Applefields School staff in a dedicated classroom base, but also have supported access to appropriate mainstream lessons, lunch, break and social activities.

Admissions to Applefields School are dealt with on an individual basis. If it is likely that your child may need specialist provision, the professionals working with you will suggest that you visit the school. All young people who attend Applefields School have a statement of special educational needs. This will be discussed at the annual review in year 5. You can discuss this option with your child’s SENCo.

"I think it is really important that you find a SENCo that you can get along with, who understands your child and your concerns. My son’s SENCo is wonderful. We had a number of conversations and meetings before Calum finished year 6. We were given a school floor plan, photos of the teaching assistants that would be working with him and key words for each of his subjects so he could feel prepared". Parent

The Danesgate Community School is York’s provision for children, aged between 5 and 16 years, who cannot attend mainstream or special school due to social, emotional and behavioural needs.

The Danesgate Community School works in partnership with all the city’s primary, secondary and special schools to ensure the needs of individual students are met. Home based tuition is provided if needed. The Danesgate Community’s mission is to ensure that young people who are disengaged from education or feel unable to attend school can achieve outcomes that will allow them to succeed and make a positive contribution to society. Young people are referred to the Danesgate Community School by their current school, health colleagues, social care, Integrated Youth Support Services or the Traveller and Ethnic Minority Service.

Danesgate Skills Centre allows young people to gain qualifications in Land Based industries, Construction, Hair and Beauty and Catering. The Skills Centre is accessed by some mainstream and special school students who are sent on courses financed by their school. They work with all York's secondary schools plus Applefields School and St John's School for the Hearing Impaired.

Special schools out of city

York provides a high level of specialist support within the city and consequently very few young people attend special schools out of the city.

Parents, carers and professionals will discuss whether there is adequate provision within York to meet your child’s needs. Decisions about whether an out of city placement is appropriate will be made at the Joint Panel for Maintained Education.

"We were very nervous about the transition into secondary, it’s a big change for us all. We had a lot of support in finding the right school for our son and understanding the process of admission and we value this very much. The new school already understands so much about our son and more importantly his likes and dislikes and how to encourage him to reach his own goals. We feel very confident and positive that our son’s needs will be more than met in his new school and are pleased that he has left primary with some beautiful memories". Parent

To view a list of approved Independent Special Schools and Special Post 16 institutions in the UK please view the Section 41 Secretary of State approved list document. The Government website also has a list of non maintained and independent special schools in England

Travel Arrangements

If your child travels to school in a taxi the school that your child is joining will complete an application for home school transport with you. You need to know that drivers and escorts are not allowed to give any medicines. However, it is important that they are able to recognise an emergency for your child. You will be asked to help the school write an individual travel plan, which will tell the driver and/or escort about how to support your child. This will then be passed to the transport provider. The transport provider will contact you before your child starts school and offer a home visit to discuss your child’s travel plan. You can explain about your child’s communication needs and their impairment or condition. An escort or a member of staff from school will make sure your child is taken to their classroom and escorted into their taxi at the end of the day. All drivers and escorts have undertaken the disability equality training level 1 and received further training on communication and autism.

For more information about home to school transport for your child please contact School Services.

T: 01904 551554