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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 it is agreed that a mainstream school is no longer able to meet your child's needs, then they may be appropriate for placement in a specialist provision. This could be at one of Suffolk’s special schools, a specialist unit attached to a mainstream school or in some instances receiving their education within an Independent setting.  

There may be some situations where a child is experiencing a temporary barrier to being able to access their learning and would benefit from attendance at a setting to support them through this period of challenge. In this situation a child may be referred to an alternative provision. You can read more about Alternative Provision here.

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)

Specialist Units

A Specialist Unit is a specialist education provision which is part of a mainstream school. Pupils could spend over 50% of their time in the unit, but are an integral part of the school and the life of it. Pupils will be on the roll of the school and the Headteacher would be responsible for their progress alongside all other pupils and will also be expected to participate fully in the life of the school at times that is suitable and appropriate to each individual pupil such as accessing assemblies, after school clubs and trips.

Pupils will have access to all facilities of the school just like other pupils, including social areas and specialist teaching facilities such as sports hall, art and technology rooms and science labs and could participate in mainstream classes where they are able to – for example where a pupil has a specific strength or for a subject such as PE or art where they can participate fully alongside their peers.

All pupils placed in the unit will have a personalised curriculum offer and would receive a high proportion of their classes in the specialist unit and will be taught in smaller groups averaging 8 to 12, possibly as low as 6 where pupils need extensive support.

Placements into these settings follow the same admissions process for special schools, and pupils will require an EHCP to access them.

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

  • SET Ixworth
  • Newmarket
  • Copleston
  • SET Saxmundham - Suffolk County Council has been informed by the Trustees of the Seckford Education Trust of their intention to close SET Saxmundham School from August 2024. The Department for Education has confirmed their support for the trust’s decision. The council will work with the trustees as required to assist in minimising the impact on children and families.  

Hearing Resource Base



Post-16 Provision

Further Education Colleges:

Special post 16:

Post 16 Groups for students with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs:

  • New Skill Centre (South Suffolk)
  • Lapwing (North and West Suffolk)

These new groups deliver a one-year transition programme for learners within a small group setting, with the aim of preparing them to progress in their plans for adulthood, including attending college or university, an Apprenticeship or employment.

Providers focus on delivering the individual outcomes detailed within a learners EHCP, including therapeutic interventions that support the pupils EHCP outcomes and personal development. A particular focus must be given to securing accreditation and qualifications in line with the learners’ interests, to ensure they are able to proceed to the next stage of learning or employment. This must include access to formal qualifications in literacy and numeracy if the learner has not already achieved these at Level 2.

Young people will have a range of levels of learning need from Entry Level through to Level 3, therefore the programme will need to be flexible enough to create a personalised offer that can meet the needs of this diverse range of learners all with different vocational goals and can include supported online learning to meet specific specialist elements of the programme needed for progression, such as an A Level or a GCSE in a specific subject.

Key aims for the programme should be:

  • To support the young person to develop a clear plan for moving into adulthood and take the first steps on that journey.
  • To identify the next step in their learning journey and support the young person to make a smooth transition to the destination provider.
  • To support the young person to develop their numeracy and literacy skills, including achieving appropriate qualifications during the year either at entry, Level 1 or Level 2 (depending on previous achievements and ability), if not already achieved.
  •  To support the young person to develop their interpersonal and employability skills to enable them to progress to the next stage of their learning journey.

More informaton on the range of education options for post-16 students with SEND 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.


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