Primary (Ages 4-11)


In this section you will find information on the provision in primary schools for children with special educational needs (SEN) and how to apply for schools.


Applying for schools

Most children with special educational needs (SEN) do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and will attend a mainstream school. They are supported from the resources already available to the school.   

Click here for information about how to apply for a primary school place if your child does not have an EHCP  and to download the Starting primary school in Southwark 2024-25 brochure. 


Key things to know and/or consider:

  • Oversubscription criteria: Many schools have more applicants than places available and use oversubscription criteria to decide which children have priority.  Criteria for community schools and some church schools are set by the local authority. Criteria for all other state-funded schools are set by the governors of the school. It is important to check the oversubscription criteria to see how likely your child is to get a place. Common criteria in order of priority include:
    1. Looked after or formerly looked after children (children who are or have been in council care); these children must get first priority; 
    2. Children who have a sibling already at the school;
    3. Distance of the school to your home address; children who live closest to the school will get priority.
  • SEN Information Report: Every school is required to publish details about how it supports pupils with special educational needs in a SEN Information Report . This can be a useful tool when researching schools. The SEN Information Report can be found on the school's website. 
  • Exceptional social, medical or psychological need criterion: There may be exceptional cases where there are compelling reasons why a child needs to attend one specific school. In these cases, when you apply for a school place, you can apply under the social, medical or psychological need criterion. The need must be specific to the school, a child may have very challenging circumstances that require additional support but if that support could also be provided at another school, there would be no exceptional need. The exceptional need could also be due to the parent’s circumstances. Examples of an exceptional need could include; a serious medical condition, which can be supported by medical evidence; significant caring responsibilities, which can be supported by a social worker; where one or both parents or the child has a disability that may make travel to another school more difficult, which can be supported by medical evidence. For your application to be considered under the social medical criterion you must provide written evidence from a doctor, social worker or other independent professional.
  • Fair Access Protocol: Each Local Authority (LA) must have a Fair Access Protocol developed in partnership with all schools in their area. Its aim is to ensure that vulnerable children, and those who are having difficulty in securing a school place in-year, are allocated a school place as quickly as possible. Children with SEN, disabilities or medical conditions without an EHCP, who are having difficulty obtaining a school place, should be included in a LA’s Fair Access Protocol. Whilst this should lead to a child getting a school place, it does not guarantee it will be at the parents’ preferred school.
  • Equality Act: School admissions are covered by the Equality Act. If you are going through the normal admissions system, a school cannot refuse to take your child because they have a disability or SEN, if your child would otherwise have been eligible for a place under the admission criteria. Equally a school cannot refuse to admit a child on the grounds that the child may need an EHCP but hasn’t yet got one.

The admissions process for children with an EHCP is coordinated by the Local Authority's (LA) SEN Team.

When your child first receives an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), part of the process involves getting a school 'named' under Section I of the EHCP. This means that you can express a preference for the school you want your child to attend at the time when you first get the EHC plan or when your child moves to a different phase of education e.g. from nursery to Primary School or from Primary School to Secondary School. You can also ask for a change of schools at an annual review. 

The local authority must name your preference so long as it is:

  • Suitable for your child’s age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs
  • Not incompatible with:
    • The efficient education of other children
    • The efficient use of resources

If you are unhappy with the school named under Section I of the EHCP, parents can challenge the LA’s decision and the school named in Section I, by appealing to the First Tier Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal within 2 months of the date on the decision letter.

Moving to a new phase of education with an EHCP

When your child moves from one stage of education to another, this is called a phase transfer. Phase transfers happen when your child makes the following transitions in their educational journey:

  • early years setting to school
  • infant school to junior school
  • primary to secondary school
  • secondary school onto post-16 or 19 provision.

Apart from when an EHCP is first issued, the move between phases of education is the most common time that you have to think about what school or college should be named in your child’s EHCP,

The process begins when your child is:

  • in their last year at their pre-school setting
  • year 2 if they are transferring to junior school
  • year 5 when transferring to secondary school and
  • year 10 when thinking about post-16 options.

Your child’s current setting will hold a phase transfer review (which is also the annual review) of your child’s EHCP during the penultimate year of their current setting. The aim of this review is to discuss future placements, as well as to review the EHCP.

Phase transfer timeline

By 15th February, the LA must issue a final EHCP for every child going through a phase transfer. This is a legal deadline by when the local authority (LA) must have reviewed, amended and finalised the child’s EHCP, naming the new educational placement the child will be moving to at the start of the next academic year in September. 


Date  Activity

By end of Summer Term 

(penultimate year before transfer)

Phase transfer reviews to be held and next placement type to be discussed with parent/carers. 

EHCP to be amended following the review. 

July (penultimate year before


The Southwark SEN Team will email parent/carers the Transfer Pack with the school preference form enclosed. The Pack will set out what to expect over the next few months, keys dates to be aware of and where you can access advice and support should you need it.   
Beginning of October  The school preference form will need to be submitted to the SEN Team. The deadline can be subject to change, so please check in the Transfer Pack for the exact deadline. 
January  The LA will write to parent/carers to provide an update and/or notify them of the school they are proposing to name in Section I of the EHCP.
15th February By the 15th February the LA must issue the final EHCP with the educational placement for September or type of provision named under Section I of the EHCP.


Parents can challenge the LA’s decision and the school named in Section I, by appealing to the First Tier Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal. The 15th February statutory deadline exists to allow parents enough time to challenge the LA’s decision, and for the appeal to be heard and a decision made before the start of the next academic year. 

Right to mainstream

There is a general right in law to a mainstream school place if this is what you want. If you have requested a mainstream placement and the LA cannot name your preferred school, the LA should consult with other mainstream schools in the area.

The LA can only name a specialist school against your wishes if:

  • Admitting your child to a mainstream school would be detrimental to the efficient education of other children, and
  • There are no steps that the school or local authority can take to overcome that disadvantage

The LA cannot refuse mainstream outright on the grounds of that it is ‘not suitable’.

Section 41 approved schools

These are independent special schools which have been approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 of the Children and Families Act (“CAFA”) 2014 as schools which a parent or young person can request to be named in an EHC plan. This means parents or young people have a right to request this type of school is named in an EHC plan in the same way they can request a maintained school.

You cannot appeal to the First Tier Tribunal for a place at an Independent School if it is not listed under Section 41 and has refused to offer your child a place.

Click here to view the list of Section 41 approved schools.

SEN Support

Every school is required to identify and address the SEN (special educational needs) of the pupils that they support. Mainstreams schools (which includes maintained schools and academies that are not special schools, maintained nurseries, 16-19 academies, alternative provision academies and Pupil Referral Units) must:

  • Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • Designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision, the SEN co-ordinator or SENCO (this does not apply to 16 to 19 academies)
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child

Schools should assess each pupil’s current skills and levels of attainment on entry and regular assessments should take place. These should seek to identify pupils making less than expected progress. The SEND Code of Practice (2015) refers to four broad areas of need:

  • Communication and interaction;
  • Cognition and learning;
  • Social, emotional and mental health;
  • Sensory and/or physical needs.

Schools should plan how to deal with each of these areas of need, and ensure that their staff have relevant training and are equipped to respond to difficulties or lack of progress in any of these areas. Special educational provision in schools is called SEN Support.

Where a child is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. The SEN support should take the form of a four part cycle through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and reviewed with a growing understanding of the pupil’s needs and of what supports the pupil in making good progress and securing good outcomes

When putting in place SEN support for a child, the school should approach this in four stages, known as Assess, Plan, Do, Review:

  • Assess: The class teacher or subject teacher (working with the SENCO) is responsible for carrying out a clear analysis of a pupil’s needs, drawing on teacher assessments and experience of the pupil’s attainment and progress.
  • Plan: Where it is decided to provide a pupil with SEN Support, the parents must be notified. All teachers and support staff who work with a pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or interventions that are required.
  • Do: The planned interventions should then be put into place. The class or subject teacher should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved and the SENCO should support the class or subject teacher.
  • Review: Regular reviews should take place and inform feedback into the analysis of the child’s needs. Schools should meet with parents three times a year, good practice would indicate that such reviews will be at least termly. The effectiveness of the support and impact on the child’s progress should be discussed and recorded. The decision to involve specialists can be taken at any time. Any changes to the support and outcomes should be taken in consultation with the pupil and parents views.

Where, despite the school having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify and meet the pupil’s needs, the pupil is still not making expected progress, the school should consider requesting an Education Health and Care needs assessment.  The parents or young person are also entitled to make such a request. See our pages on Education, Health and Care Plans for more information on this process.


Most children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) can be taught in mainstream schools or colleges. If a child has more severe or complex needs, their needs might be best met by attending a specialist school or a school with a resource base.  Southwark LA SEND Guidance for schools can be found here.

The majority of children with EHCPs are educated in Southwark mainstream schools. As part of this process, you should identify the nearest school you would want your child to attend.

Click here to find the schools near to you.

Click here to download the Starting Primary School Brochure.

Cherry Garden Outreach Support Service

Cherry Garden School have a small team of specialist outreach teachers offering support to children in mainstream school who have SEN and are working below their peers.

To find out more about the Cherry Garden Outreach Support Service (COSS) click here.

Click here to view the Cherry Garden Outreach Support Service (COSS) school request for support form.

Resource Bases cater for children or young people with SEN and can access a mainstream curriculum but who need additional support or small group work in order for this to be successful.

Resource Bases specialise in a particular area of special educational needs and operate in different ways:

  • children may attend a specific unit in the school for part or all of the school day, and/or
  • they may receive focused specialist support in the main classrooms.

Resource Bases are staffed with specialist teachers, support assistants and therapists with expertise in the area of specialism they cater for and who work in the base and with the mainstream teachers.

Specialism: Hearing impairment 

Name of School  Address  Telephone No.  Website 
St John's and St Clement's Primary School Adys Road, London, SE15 4DY 020 7525 9210

Specialism: Speech and Language 

Name of School  Address  Telephone No.  Website
John Ruskin Primary School John Ruskin Street, Camberwell, London, SE5 0PQ 020 7703 5800 / 020 7703 2587

Specialism: Autism 

Name of School  Address  Telephone No.  Website 
Rye Oak Primary School Whorlton Road, London, SE15 3PD 020 7639 3914
Brunswick Park Primary School Picton Street, Camberwell, London, SE5 7QH 020 7525 9033
Redriff Primary School Salter Road, Rotherhithe, London, SE16 5LQ 020 7237 4272
Snowfields Primary School Kirby Grove, London, SE1 3TD 020 7525 9065
Peter Hills Primary School 2 Beatson Walk, London SE16 5ED 020 7237 2654
Robert Browning Primary School  King and Queen Street, Walworth
London, SE17 1DQ
020 7708 3456 Robert Browning – The Bridges Federation

Specialism: Dyslexia 

Name of School  Address  Telephone  Website 
Lyndhurst Primary School Denmark House, Grove Lane, Camberwell, London, SE5 8SN 0207 703 3046

For schools outside of Southwark, please visit the relevant Local Authority’s Local Offer.

Special schools are those that provide an education for children with a special educational need or disability. There are many different types of special school and as a result a special school may admit only learners who require support in the area of specialisation offered at the school.

Specialism Name of School Address Telephone No. Website 
Autism Haymerle School Haymerle Road, Peckham, London, SE15 6SY 020 7639 6080
Autism Spa School Camberwell 150 Southampton Way, London, SE5 7EW 020 3434 5210
Severe learning difficulties/Complex needs Cherry Garden School 41 Bellenden Road, London, SE15 5BB 020 7237 4050
Social, emotional, mental health (SEMH) Beormund School Crosby Row, London, SE1 3PS 020 7525 9027

Beormund School Building 'Fly Through' - Click here to watch

Take a look at an Architect's impression of the new provision for Beormund School, which will provide additional places for children with social, emotional and mental health needs.

Click the links below to find details of specialist settings in Southwark's neighbouring boroughs:

Tower Hamlets

This section provides information on the different Specialist Independent Schools in Southwark and beyond.