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Specialist Education in Suffolk | Community Directory

Specialist Education in Suffolk

Schools and settings are responsible for meeting the needs of a range of children and young people by providing high quality teaching and support which is adapted to the needs of individual children so they can make good progress in their learning and, in the long-term, can become independent and gain employment in or near their local community.

For most children, their needs will be able to be met in their mainstream schools. Schools receive funding directly from both central and local government to provide support to children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This funding is not tied to any particular pupil, and is given to all schools in order to enable them to “map out” the needs of their pupils and respond quickly and effectively to these. Some of the things schools can put in place using this funding include whole-school approaches that promote inclusion throughout the school community, small group work that may benefit groups of children with similar needs, or, where necessary, 1:1 work with school staff and/or support from specialist teams. In Suffolk, we call this approach the ‘graduated response to SEND’.

If your child needs more support than can be provided through this initial funding, your child’s school can also apply for High Needs Funding from Suffolk County Council, or you or your child's school can also apply for an Education, Health and Care Plan. You can find out more about applying for an EHCP here.

If a child’s needs are so significant that their mainstream school feel that they can no longer meet them, something called specialist provision might also be considered. These provisions include Independent Schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRU’s), post-16 provision, local alternative education providers (AP), Suffolk Special Needs schools and specialist education units that are attached to mainstream schools.

Special Schools

Throughout Suffolk we have a number of specialist schools that are within the local offer of provisions which we can offer to children and young people. These schools cater for a variety of needs, ranging from Cognition and Learning and Social, Emotional and Mental Health. Some of these specialist schools can offer places to pre-school children and others have Post 16 options within them. All pupils who are agreed a place at these schools are required to have an Education, Health and Care Plan. Please follow this link for further information on EHCP’s.

Please find the list below to the special schools within the local offer of Suffolk:

Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD)

Moderate Learning Difficulties

Social, Emotional and Mental Health

Communication and Interaction

Physical/Sensory (with complex medical needs)

Suffolk County Council are currently in the process of commissioning additional specialist units in order to meet the demand for specialist places. Please visit our specialist unit update page for more information.

Specialist Units

Specialist Reception and Key Stage 1

Cognition and Learning Key Stage 2

Cognition and Learning Key Stage 3 and 4

Communication and Interaction Key Stage 2

Communication and Interaction Key Stage 3 and 4

Hearing Impaired Units



New Units for 2021/22

These are subject to feasibility studies and once agreements have been finalised.

Specialist Unit Reception and Key Stage 1:

  • Exning
  • St Edmunds - September 2022

Cognition and Learning Key Stage 2:

  • St Edmunds
  • Mendlesham Primary

Cognition and Learning Key Stage 3 and 4:

  • Saxmundham
  • Stowupland High

Communication and Interaction Key Stage 2:

  • Woodhall Primary

Communication and Interaction Key Stage 3 and 4:

  • Copleston
  • Saxmundham

Additional specialist education groups

Whilst Suffolk County Council are in the process of developing new permanent specialist education settings to form part of their local offer, a small number of short term additional groups have been created to support children who require specialist education settings. The process in order for children to access these groups are the same as if a child were to access a special school or specialist unit, whereby requests will need to be considered and agreed by the LA.

These additional groups are as follows:

Raedwald Trust –

Attic @ The Landing –  

  • Communication and Interaction KS2
  • Communication and Interaction KS3
  • MLD KS3

Olive AP Academy –

  • ASD KS2-3 until July 2022
  • MLD/SEMH KS2 until July 2023
  • ASD KS3 until July 2022
  • ASD/SEMH KS2 until July 2022

Albany –

  • SEMH KS3-4 until July 2022

Chalk Hill –

  • SEMH KS2-3

Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Provision

One type of Alternative Provision (AP) in Suffolk are Pupil Referral Units (PRUs). These are educational settings where pupils attend following a permanent exclusion or for support with negative behavioural difficulties seen within their mainstream schools to prevent a permanent exclusion; along with those who are medically unable to attend their mainstream school.

These are seen as short-term placements, intended to give the opportunity to address the underlying behaviours and issues in order for pupils to then be able to successfully re-integrate back into mainstream schools.

Occasionally there may be times where a PRU is identified as a longer term placement, for example if it is more beneficial for the pupil to remain at the AP in order to complete KS4 or they are not deemed medically well enough to return to their mainstream school.

Please see the links below to our current Pupil Referral Units:

There are also a range of other Alternative Education Providers in Suffolk. You can read more about these here: Alternative Provision

Post-16 Provision

Further Education Colleges:

Special post 16:

Post 16 alternative providers:

A range of education options for post-16 can be found in our SEND 16+ Transitions Guide

Independent Special Schools

The SEND code of practice states, we must publish the list of independent special institutions (Independent Special Schools - England and Wales and Special Post-16 Institutions) approved by the Secretary of State under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

See the published list on the Gov UK website.