Transition through education - to secondary school

Special Educational Needs (SEN) support

Starting secondary school is a big step for every child, and for those who have SEND, it can sometimes be a bigger challenge. As a parent, you will want to make sure that the new school knows how to meet your child’s needs.

The earlier you start thinking about this process the better. Starting early, gives plenty of time to research all the options and to plan the transition.

It’s important to keep an open mind at this stage and think about all your local schools. Most children and young people who have SEND are educated in mainstream schools. In some cases, if a child has a higher level of need, a placement in a specialist provision may be considered.

What support is available?

Working towards a smooth transition is important for your child’s primary school and the receiving secondary school. All information will be shared, with your permission, so that everything is in place to support your child’s needs.

SEN support

If your child is receiving SEN support their primary school will consider the individual needs of your child with you, ready for secondary transfer through the assess, plan, do, review cycle.

Choosing a secondary school

We recommend that you use the school open days to visit secondary schools during the autumn term in both year 5 and 6.

All schools, including academies, free schools as well as maintained schools have an SEND Information report (SENDIR) which sets out the school’s approach to SEND and transition support. 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 schools websites.

Learn more about our school admissions.

The schools will meet to share information and discuss any additional support that needs to be planned for.

We recommend that you should consider your child's:

  • physical, social and emotional development needs
  • independent learning skills communication and interaction skills
  • personal care skills

You will need to apply for a secondary school place through the usual route.

Choosing and applying for a secondary school 

Children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), please do not complete an application form but contact your EHCP coordinator who will support you through the process. You will not need to follow the usual admissions pathway.

All Year 5 pupils with an EHC Plan should have a transition annual review. This is to ensure enough time for effective planning to take place and for the receiving school to be made aware of and make preparations to meet the needs of your child.

You will be invited to state your parental preferences for a particular school or educational setting, including independent schools which have been approved under Section 41 of the Children and families act. 

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.

Where more than one school can meet a child’s needs the local authority will usually identify the school that offers the most efficient use of resources.  This is usually the closest school and whilst families may prefer schools further away, if this results in additional transport costs, it may not be possible for the council to agree this or it may fall to the family to arrange and fund access to their favoured school, by negotiation with the council.

Both current and receiving schools should discuss at the annual review how they will support your child through the transition process. The review and any amendments must be completed by 15 February in the calendar year of the transfer at the latest for transfers into or between schools.

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

Learn more about our school admissions.

What your child's primary school can do

A successful transition from primary to secondary school involves both schools working together.

Your child’s primary school will share as much information as possible with the new school. This will help the secondary school plan how it can meet your child’s needs.

Your child’s primary school may compile a profile of your child which can be passed on to the secondary school.

We’ve produced a range of booklets and tools to help you to gather this information.

Please complete our feedback form to request these.

What your child's new secondary school can do

To help your child settle into secondary school, the school should make sure they are proactive in planning for their admission.

There are lots of ways that secondary schools will help your child, such as:

  • Considering how they can make the school accessible to your child, for example, by timetabling classes on the ground floor if they have mobility problems.
  • Informing themselves about your child’s needs by reading their EHC or SEN support plan and any materials supplied by you, their current school or other professionals.
  • Meeting with you and your child to get to know them better, discuss their needs and consider how they can be catered for.
  • Offering extra induction days or informal visits for children who have SEND to make them more familiar with their new school.
  • Using buddy mentoring schemes to help your child settle in.

Supporting pupils with medical conditions or needs

Section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on governing bodies of maintained schools, proprietors of academies and management committees of Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) to make arrangements for supporting pupils at their school with medical conditions.

Bromley’s SEN advisory team can support children, the families and schools regarding appropriate support for medical needs.

How will my child be involved?

Pupils should be actively involved in the review process, attending all or part of the annual review meeting.

They should be encouraged to give their views. You may wish to talk to the school about how your child can be involved in the review process.

We’ve produced a transition guide for parents and carers and a range of tools to help you to gather this information. Please complete our feedback form to request these.

Children and young person’s support officer

You may wish to contact the children and young person’s support officer, part of the Information and Advice Support Service.

They will be able to provide support,  text 07834 106 347 or email

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.

The Foundation for people with Learning disabilities: Useful guides for pupils and parents

The Foundation for people with Learning disabilities: Transition resources

National Autistic Society: Effective transition to primary school for autistic children.

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and families: - Transitions

Transition to secondary school from Young Minds - Finding your feet