Finding a school if your child has SEN without an EHC plan

This page will explain how to apply for a nursery/reception place, school, or college if your child or young person has SEND without an EHC plan.

This page will also suggest some questions and points that you might want to ask and consider, when deciding on the education setting (nursery, school, or college) you would prefer your child and young person to go to.

Visiting a nursery, school, or college is usually the best way to find out if it’s the right one for your child and young person. It is a good idea to ask to speak to the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo), inclusion manager at a mainstream school, headteacher at a special school or head of learning support, at a college, when contacting the setting for the first time.

Types of nurseries, schools, and colleges

There are different types of nurseries, schools, and colleges, for example:

Mainstream nurseries, schools/colleges

Provide an education for all children/young people, including those with SEND.

Maintained (state) nurseries/schools

Are funded by the LA, which includes community, foundation, and voluntary aided nurseries/schools. These can be mainstream or special schools.

Academies/Free schools

School’s which are state-funded independent schools. They are set up by sponsors from business, faith, or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE). They receive money directly from the Government but are not maintained by LA.

SEN units/resource bases

These are attached to mainstream schools and usually provide support for children/young people with certain types of SEN (for example, autism). Children and young people will usually need an EHC plan to access these.

Special schools/colleges

Schools/colleges that provide education for children and young people with SEN. Children or young people will usually need an EHC plan to go to one of these schools/colleges.

Independent schools/colleges

Non maintained schools fee-paying schools/colleges that are not funded by local authority or the government. Some are run by charities (and therefore, “not for profit”) whereas some are private “for-profit” owners. Some of these schools are approved by the government. These types of school/colleges will admit children/young people with or without EHC plan.

Section 41 schools

These are independent special schools which have been approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 of the Children and Families Act (“C&FA”) 2014

Other types of education providers

There are also other types of education providers, for example:

Pupil Referral Units

Are for children who need to be educated out of school, often because they have been excluded. They have the same legal status as schools in some ways but do not have to teach the national curriculum.

Alternative Provision

Is education arranged by local authorities for children who, because of suspensions or permanent exclusions, illness, or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education. This type of provisions can also be for pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour.

How can I find out about a particular school?

You can find information about a school through the Department for Education or Ofsted. 

Department for Education

The Department for Education has a database which you can search by the name of the school, the location, or the LA. It lists information about the type of school and other basic details such as the age of pupils and the name of the head teacher.


Inspection reports, obtainable from Ofsted, also give a brief outline of the type and characteristics of an education setting.

The law and your rights

Choosing a nursery, primary or secondary school for children with SEN and without an EHC plan.

There are two types of admissions into a nursery, primary school (including reception class) and secondary school:

  1. Applying for a nursery, primary or secondary school place for the first time, usually referred to as Reception or Secondary transfer, or
  2. In year transfer – if you want to change the nursery, primary or secondary school your child is already attending or has a place at

Applying for a nursery, primary or secondary school place for the first time (at the age they are expected to)

If your child has SEN and does not have an Education Health Care plan, you will need to complete an application form. Please click the relevant age-related link below to get more information on how to apply.

Nursery age children

Nurseries in Wandsworth | Wandsworth Family Information Service

Primary or secondary age children

Admissions - Wandsworth Borough Council

All mainstream nursery, primary and secondary schools (*maintained (state, academies and free), have their own admission criteria which you can check , by clicking on the relevant booklets below:

Nursery age or younger

Choosing Early Education in Wandsworth

Primary Schools

Choose a Wandsworth Primary School

Secondary Schools

Choose a Wandsworth Secondary School

The above booklets also explain:

  • How you can apply for a place
  • How to apply for a private or independent nursery (Early Education brochure)
  • How to apply for a mainstream school in neighbouring boroughs (Primary and Secondary Booklets)
  • The deadline date to complete an application form by (reception and secondary transfer)
  • When you will be told of the school place offered to your child - usually 1st March of the year they will be going to Reception or Secondary school

Wandsworth School list (Mainstream and Special)

For admission into a special school or unit please see our information on the finding a school if your child has an EHC plan.

In year admissions (if you are new into the borough, country or want your child to change school)

If you require a place in a Wandsworth secondary or primary school after the school year has begun (for example, you have moved into the borough from another borough or country), you will need to complete the relevant application form for an 'in-year' admission:

Please Note: It may be useful to contact Pupil Services, to find out if there are places in the schools listed in the following booklets: Choose a Wandsworth Primary School and Choose a Wandsworth Secondary School.

If your child already has a school place in a Wandsworth School:

If your child already has a place in a Wandsworth school but you want them to transfer to a different school within Wandsworth, you should first discuss this with the Headteacher/Principal at their current school before making an application.

Please Note: If you decide to change the school, you should first find out if there are places available at other schools, by directly contacting the schools or the Council's Pupil Services team.

You will also need to obtain an 'in-year' transfer application form from your child's current school. The form has a section which must be completed by the school.

The Law on Admissions

It is unlawful for an admission authority (local authority or school governing body) to refuse admission if a child has SEN, (with no EHC plan) for the following reasons:

  • Your child’s behaviour (except in very limited circumstances), or
  • It believes your child requires an EHC needs assessment or requires additional support and/or EHC plan
  • Or your child is not toilet trained

School Checklists

We have put together the following information sheets, which include checklists to support you with organising school visits and questions you may want to ask when visiting schools:

Where can I get more information on School Admissions

For information on the law and school admission for children without EHC plans please visit Childlaw advice.

If your child (without an EHC plan) is not offered a place at the school you applied for please go to our challenging decisions page under appealing a school place.