Transition through education - from early years to reception

Special Educational Needs (SEN) support

Information about the transition process from early years settings to primary school for children with special educational needs and disabilities and some practical approaches to support a smooth transition.

What support is available?

Some children with special educational needs (SEND) have greater difficulty learning than others and, for most, extra support can be provided by the school.  For a very small number the support required may be significant and may call for a statutory assessment to identify their needs and any special provision required.

Special provision may be provided in the following ways:

  • Support within a mainstream school, using the school’s own budget and support framework and possibly some ‘top up’ funding from the local authority, known as SEN support.
  • Placement in an additionally resourced mainstream school class – often referred to as an Additionally Resourced Provision class (ARP) within a mainstream school or sometimes a unit.
  • Placement in a special school.

SEN support

More  information regarding the SEN support available for your child.

Choosing a primary school

Most children with SEND are educated in mainstream schools but depending on the complexity of your child’s needs, a specialist setting may be appropriate.

All schools, including academies, free schools as well as maintained schools have an SEN Information report (SENDIR) which sets out the school’s approach to SEND. Many schools also have a SEND policy. Both are great places to start when you are choosing a school. Details of each school’s report and policy can be found on the individual school websites

When you are considering whether a particular school is the right place for your child, it’s worth considering:

Whether it has experience of children with similar needs.

  • How you as a parent, the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), teaching and support staff will communicate about your child.
  • How your child will be supported in class and more widely in the school
  • How you’ll be involved in their learning and development

Schools will also be happy to arrange a meeting with the SENCO before you apply for a place, so you can discuss your child’s needs and how the school would meet them.

If your child has a social and communication needs or autism the checklist for parents may help you to think about what questions to ask.

Choosing a school

Applying for a primary school

Mainstream schools

The application deadline for children starting in school in September each year will be in January of that academic year.

Visiting local schools during their open days or taking a virtual tour will help you to consider which schools you prefer or think might be right for your child.  Visiting dates are publicised on individual schools’ websites.

It is important that all parents apply for a place in a mainstream placement in a local mainstream school using the Bromley school application process. 

Even if your child is undergoing an EHC needs assessment it is important that you follow the standard process for applying for a primary school place.

If you do not apply for a place and an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is not issued for your child, following the assessment, you may miss out on a place at one of your preferred schools.

Visit our choosing and applying for a primary school page for more information.

It is important that all parents apply for a place in a mainstream class in a local mainstream school but there is a strict criteria for access.

In exceptional circumstances, schools can exercise a discretion to admit a child on the grounds of their or their family’s acute medical or social need for their first preference school only.

Applications can be made using the registration form for consideration under medical or social needs. If you are thinking of applying on medical or social grounds, please discuss this first with a relevant professional from SEN advisory team.

Most parents’ preference is for their child to attend their local mainstream school, within the community they live.  If their child’s support needs are significantly higher than the level of funding that is available in the school, it may be necessary for a statutory Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment to be carried out. 

Your child’s early years setting can help you with this process. If you are considering a specialist placement then a request for a Statutory Needs Assessment must be made. You may want to discuss this with your child’s pre-school and or other professionals working with your child such as an early years advisory teacher and an area SENCO or health professionals.

Children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or undergoing an EHC Needs Assessment

If either your child has an EHC Plan or following an assessment and EHC Plan has been agreed, you will be invited to state your parental preferences for a particular school or educational setting (including independent schools which have been approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State).

If a child’s parent or a young person makes a request for a particular nursery, school or post-16 institution in these groups the local authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless:

  • it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
  • the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources.

Efficient education means providing for each child or young person a suitable, appropriate education in terms of their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have. Where a local authority is considering the appropriateness of an individual institution, ‘others’ is intended to mean the children and young people with whom the child or young person with an EHC plan will directly come into contact on a regular day-to-day basis.

The local authority must consult with a school before naming it in the EHC Plan, and before making the final decision.

Specialist placements

Specialist placements  can only be agreed for children who have an Education Health and Care Plan. Your EHCP coordinator from the Local Authority Statutory Assessment Team will work with you to consider an appropriate placement and consultation with the school will be made on your behalf.

Additionally Resourced Provisions can vary in the type of need that they support.  Some are specifically for children with language disorders, hearing impairment or social communication/autism, while others are placements that support a broader range of needs.

Find out more about choosing and applying for a specialist school if your child has and EHC plan.

What your child’s setting can do

A successful transition from early years to primary school involves both settings working together. It’s important that your child’s early years setting  shares as much information as possible with their new school. This will help the primary school plan how it will meet your child’s needs.  It is important that families are in discussions and are able to contribute to this process.

This may be done in a number of ways:

  • Bromley Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) transfer document summary or early years own transfer documents
  • An individual transition meeting may be appropriate,  where appropriate, an advisory teacher may join a transition meeting
  • Early years SEN advisory team share records with the receiving school
  • SEN support plan (where appropriate)

Need more help?

Contact the information, advice and support service for free, impartial information, advice and support for parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Support is also offered to children and young people with SEND. They can also help provide information in a non-web format.

Useful resources

If you need more information or would like this information in a handy parents guide to starting school please contact use our feedback form to make your request.

NHS Advice about starting school

Oxford Owl – Welcome to Reception!

Ambitious About Autism - Right from the start toolkit