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Education in the independent (private) sector

Most children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) have their educational support needs met in a maintained school, academy or college. Sometimes these mainstream providers seek extra information, advice and guidance from a specialist support service.

A small number of children and young people with complex needs require more specialist education to meet their needs. These children and young people will usually have an Education, Health and Care plan.

In a very small number of cases, we will need to place children or young people in a different type of school in the independent (private) sector.

Parental or young person can only make a request for an independent school when the first draft of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan is issued or at an annual review of an EHC plan. If you feel an independent school is an option for your child, talk to your EHCP Co-ordinator in the first instance.

Decisions about independent school placements

In these situations, we place children and young people in an appropriate independent school that will meet their needs, in Norfolk, or as close to Norfolk as possible.

We only place children and young people in schools which have been through a quality assurance process and that are reviewed regularly. We expect these schools to provide us with evidence of their standards and outcomes each term. This is because we want to be sure that they offer a high quality of education.

We will approach schools that we have a contractual arrangement with first. However, this does not require them to admit any child or young person.

Where parents or a young person have expressed a preference for a school that is not signed up to our contractual arrangements, we would also approach this school to see if they could meet the child or young person’s needs and our quality assurance.

For an explanation on the different types of independent schools’ please visit the types of school page.

Finding independent schools - Norfolk and beyond

Find independent schools for pupils with special educational needs (including those approved under section 41 of the Children and Families Act).

Find other independent schools using GOV.UK Get information about schools – a register of schools and colleges in England. Use these quick links to help you find:

Find the independent schools that we have a formal contractual arrangement with. 

Independent schools that Norfolk County Council formally contracts with

How do I make a request?

Read this page if you are considering requesting a school for a child with an EHC Plan.

Then requests are made by contacting your EHCP Co-ordinator.

When you don’t agree with the placement provided for your child

Step one: Discuss this with your child’s EHCP Co-ordinator.

Step two: Use the disagreement resolution service. In Norfolk disagreement resolution is delivered by KIDS SEN Mediation Service which is an independent organisation. They will be happy to talk through any issues and let the parent/carer know if disagreement resolution may help. Telephone 03330 062 835 or email

Contact Norfolk SEND Partnership who offer impartial and confidential advice.

How can private education providers and other local authorities find out more about the contractual arrangements?

Providers and local authorities who require any information are required to complete and sign an ‘Access Agreement’.

This form and a copy of the User Guide can be obtained by contacting the Sourcing Team at NCC Procurement by emailing

Full details are available on the Doing Business with County Council section of the website, under the section ‘Tenders, contracts and procurement’.

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