Below you will find a helpful list of the questions we get asked the most often by parents and carers. If you can't find the answer to your question, please contact us on:0118 970 8068.
Parents and Carers FAQs
I don't know what's wrong with my child, how do I get a diagnosis?
If you have concerns or worries about your child's physical, emotional, intellectual and social development, you can seek advice from your GP or health visitor who can provide you with information about the next steps to take. This can be before your child has started education or whilst they are in an education setting.
You can ask your GP to refer your child to a consultant or diagnostic team of professionals, which may include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists and pediatricians. Professionals can help to establish what is causing your child's developmental difficulties and provide a report containing their findings and recommendations for support. Private assessments can be paid for to speed up the process.
Children and their families can benefit from having an official diagnosis of their child's developmental difficulties as it can provide an explanation for the problems that have presented themselves for some time. A diagnosis can bring great relief for parents and sometimes for the child themselves. This can also provide them with the information needed to seek the most appropriate services.
What is an EHC plan?
An Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is the legal document which replaces the Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments for children and young people with special educational needs.
An EHC plan describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs. It explains the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support the young person to achieve what they want to in their life. The plan is drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment.
An EHC plan can be issued to a young person between the ages of 0 and 25 years.
How do I get my child an EHC plan?
You can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC plan. A young person can also request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.
A request can be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.
If the local authority decides to carry out an assessment you may be asked for:
- Any reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder
- Doctors’ assessments of your child
- A letter from you about your child’s needs
The local authority will tell you within 16 weeks whether an EHC plan is going to be made for your child.
For more information on how to obtain an EHC plan, please click here.
Can I choose which school or college my child goes to?
With the introduction of the EHC plan, parents now have more rights when deciding which school their child attends. As a parent you have the right to say which special school or college you want your child to go to and the local authority can agree with your preference as long as the service you choose is suitable for your child's age, ability, skills and EHC plan. Other points local authorities consider are that your child's presence will not damage the education and care of other children already at the school, college and residential accommodation, and placing your child in the service will be an efficient use of the local authority's resources.
How does your education and care referral process work?
The process for a referral from a local authority will differ slightly between each of our Priory schools, colleges and children’s homes.
In general, the process will start with the parents and/or local authority going to view the service. This meeting will give you the opportunity to discuss your child's needs and to see if you can imagine your child in that particular education and possibly care environment. The next stage would involve someone from the Senior Management Team observing your child in their present setting and liaising with the school or college regarding their educational and care needs. Where the child isn't attending school or college, the team would observe the child at your home.
The final stage of the process would be to invite the child to spend some time at our school or college. This may be for a day, overnight or two to three days, depending on the service and also what the individual child can manage. The assessment process is required to ensure that our school or college can meet all of the child's needs. If the process shows that we can meet the needs of the individual, a place at the school or college is offered.
Please note that some of our Priory children’s homes will assess the child in their current situation, and others will offer a place based on the paperwork provided.
Do you charge for an assessment?
Our schools, colleges and children’s homes will not charge for the initial assessment. Visits and day assessments are also free of charge, however longer assessments may be subject to a cost. Please call us today on 0845 277 4679 for more information and we will be happy to discuss this in more detail.
How do I arrange to visit one of your schools, colleges or children’s homes?
You can contact the school, college or children’s home that you are interested in and ask to speak to the referrals manager, the principal or registered home manager. They will ask you some questions regarding your child and their needs, and then arrange a suitable time for you to come and visit the service. It is often better on the first visit to go without your child, so you are able to communicate openly about their needs, look at the facilities and ask any questions that you may have. If you would like your child to view the education and care services before the referral process starts, another visit can always be arranged.
Do you provide respite care during the holidays?
Some Priory services are registered for up to 52 weeks of the year and are open during the school holidays. These schools or colleges are also registered as children's homes. In all of these services, it is possible to request periods of respite care. This has to be agreed by the local authority and the school or college, who will agree the fees payable to cover the period of respite care. We also have standalone children’s home, with some capable of accepting respite care placements during the holidays.
The young person in respite care will be able to join in leisure activities with the other residents, who spend all of their holidays within the school, college or home. Our respite care residents will be provided with pocket money and the equipment and facilities needed to take a full and active part in the activities on offer.
Can parents pay the education and care fees?
Yes you can pay the fees, however local authorities, social services, education departments and health departments will usually refer the young person and pay the education and care fees.
I would like my child to attend a school in another area, how do I arrange funding?
If you are currently residing in an area, however plan to move to another area with a different local authority, we suggest you contact the new local authority and inform them of your situation. It is unlikely that the local authority with authorise funding until you can prove you are living in the area you are apply to.
Do you have different types of therapy available on site?
The level of therapy available in each of our schools, colleges and children’s homes varies, so parents, carers and local authorities are advised to enquire directly with the service about the therapies available when a placement is being considered. The range of therapies available includes:
- Speech and language therapy
- Art and music therapy
- Occupational therapy
The young person will be assessed before decisions are made to give them access to particular therapies. A strong emphasis is placed on the 'Every Child Matters' agenda. The therapy sessions offered assist students to settle into a school or college, enjoy and achieve, feel safe, be able to make a positive contribution to their environment, plan and prepare for the next stage in their lives.
How do you help my child towards a more independent life?
All young people are given considerable support to enable them to be as independent as possible, and many go on to lead positive and fulfilling lives. The level of this support will depend on the nature of individual needs. Each school or college, as well as children’s homes, follow different types of programmes that are aimed at increasing students' independence. For many of our schools and colleges, this involves students following ASDAN courses. These are nationally recognised courses with a strong practical focus. They develop students' skills to enable them to be more able to cope with the challenges that life throws up for them.
Our education and care services will have specific programmes that enable the young people to develop their personal skills. For example, there will be structured programmes to enable them to become fully independent in dealing with their personal needs such as their basic hygiene. In addition, being able to travel independently is recognised as a very important aspect of a young person’s development. Independent travel programmes involve the individual being taken to a local village or town and given periods of time on their own, monitored very closely by staff. These are then extended until the young person’s able to reach a stage when they can leave the site and travel independently to an agreed destination, returning at an agreed time. This activity is monitored very closely by staff. The young people are also encouraged to develop independent learning skills. These are aimed at enabling them to continue into further training when they move on from school or college.
Do you take students that have been permanently excluded from a mainstream school or college?
Yes, all of our schools and colleges are designed to ensure that students who have experienced difficulties within mainstream settings are able to take advantage of learning opportunities. Planned programmes introduce students back into an educational setting, allowing them to become comfortable in the environment and access all learning opportunities available.
There is no stigma placed on a student because they have been permanently excluded from a mainstream school or college. It is seen as a fresh start, where the rules and the expectations of the school or college are made clear and the student is given considerable support to enable them to fit into the school or college, and understand the expectations placed upon them. Depending upon the extent of their learning difficulties and disabilities, this level of support will be reduced as and when the student becomes more independent and they are able to comfortably operate within the school or college environment.
How do you involve children's parents or carers when they are at our education and care services?
Parents and carers are very much involved in a partnership with the school, college and/or children’s home. All young people are seen as individuals and parents/carers are kept fully informed of their child's progress and development right from the initial referral stage. They are invited to visit the service before a placement has been agreed and are always welcome to visit on other occasions. Contact numbers are exchanged and parents/carers are kept fully informed of the referral process and the induction programme for their child.
Each school, college and children’s home operates a variety of support staff systems. Many of these involve the service appointing a key worker or link worker to support their child. Part of their responsibility is to ensure that regular contact is maintained with parents and carers in order to keep them fully informed. Parents and carers are particularly welcome in the site’s open days, where opportunities exist for visits to the various departments of the school, college or children’s home and a chance to see the achievements of the students. All parents and carers are given advanced notice of the annual review dates and are encouraged to attend these. Parent and carers are also provided with regular reports on their son's or daughter's progress.
Do you have a provision to meet my child’s needs after 16 years of age?
Yes many of our schools and colleges provide a post-16 specialist level of provision and some schools are designed specifically for students over the age of 16. The provision available for post-16 students is dependent upon the individual's learning difficulties and disabilities. In all our schools and colleges, students are provided with good opportunities to achieve external accreditation e.g BTECs, GNVQs, ASDAN awards, as well as developing their independence and social skills.
How do I raise a concern or make a complaint about your services?
In the first instance, parents and carers are encouraged to contact the member of staff they usually communicate with to raise any concerns or complaints they may have. If this response is not satisfactory, the school or college principal, or children’s home manager should be contacted. They are committed to ensuring that full support is given to enable parents to understand and deal with any concerns and complaints. If a parent or carer feels that the complaint has not been resolved, they are asked to put their complaint in writing to a regional manager of Priory Education and Children’s Services. Regional managers can be contacted at the Priory Central Office.
Unsted Regional Office
Telephone: 01325 331266 Ext 5773 or 5767
How do I make a general enquiry about the education and/or care provision for my child?
To make a general enquiry about Priory Education and Children’s Services or a specific school, college or children’s home, please call the central enquiries team on: 0845 277 4679 or email: educationEnquiries@priorygroup.com where a dedicated specialist is available to discuss your requirements in more detail and offer advice where possible.