Specialist provision in Norfolk

Specialist support for children and young people in Norfolk is varied and comprehensive. Most pupils with an EHC plan are educated in mainstream schools. However, for some pupils who require most specialist support, Norfolk offers the following:

Special schools. There are currently thirteen state funded special schools in Norfolk. These special schools are made up of ten complex needs schools, two specialist social, emotional and mental health specialist schools and one school specialising in autism. Click here to see a map of Norfolk special schools.

Specialist Resource Bases (SRB) provide intervention support to children and young people in class settings in mainstream schools. Each SRB has a designated specialism (Learning and Cognition, Autism or Social, Emotional and Mental Health)

Dyslexia Outreach Service (DOS). The Dyslexia Outreach Service works collaboratively with schools, offering advice, support and training for colleagues as well as qualifications in Dyslexia support.

Compass Centres. There are currently three centres, supporting children in Key Stages 1-3 who have severe and challenging behaviour or emerging or actual mental health needs, including attachment issues or developmental trauma.

SEND Transformation Programme

Norfolk Council have committed £120 million to transform special needs education in the county. The programme involves creating 500 extra specialist school places across the county by building three new special schools, expanding the number of SRB places and giving more support to mainstream schools.

To find out more about Norfolk’s Local SEND offer please click here.

The transformation programme is seeing the creation of many new jobs to provide education and support to the children and young people taking up newly created places. With new jobs come opportunities for career development and advancement. If you are a teacher interested in working in specialist provision, you can join our talent pool and be supported in finding a position.

To apply for our SEND teacher talent pool click here.

If you are currently working in a mainstream school and considering making the switch to specialist provision, then read the testimonials below from teachers who have made the move and never looked back.

Moving from mainstream to specialist provision – testimonials

A teacher who recently moved from mainstream to a complex needs school

“I moved to the SEND sector after 5 years as a mainstream teacher, it felt a bit of a ‘leap’ at the time but I was looking for career progression and opportunities to further develop my skill set and experiences as a teacher. It has provided me with exactly that – there are so many training and CPD opportunities available within the SEND sector, I have gained so much knowledge which I wish I’d have known when I worked in the mainstream sector and am now studying to specialise in Autism (something I have grown to be very passionate about!). 

I really enjoy the ethos within the SEND sector and the ability to make decisions in the best interests of each individual child. The larger staff teams/ratios within SEND schools also create a real school community which I have enjoyed being a part of and the opportunities to work with and learn from other external professionals. 

I would advise anyone to ‘give it a go’ as I feel there is very little to lose. If I were to move back into the mainstream sector in the future, I feel I could take so much new experience and knowledge with me that would make me a better mainstream teacher than I was before. Personally, I plan to stay in the SEND sector for the foreseeable!”

A mainstream teacher who moved to a Norfolk complex needs school

“I worked in a mainstream High School as a PE Teacher and Head of Year for 8 years in total. Towards the end I became disengaged with the education system as it became more and more about targets and conforming to lots of rules, regulations and teaching to pass exams.

I was very worried about moving into a Special Education setting as I hadn’t had any specific qualifications in this. 

As soon as I started though I knew I had made a great decision. Suddenly my passion and joy for teaching had been restored. I have found myself working for the reasons I first got into teaching. I have been able to adapt the curriculum to fit the needs of the kids, take their individual personalities into account when dealing with behaviour and have resources to target the underlying issues that the behaviours cover up. Each pupil is such an individual and so if you always treat them with this in mind your teaching will flourish. 

I have never worked in a more inclusive, supportive, passionate environment.” 

A senior leader who moved into Norfolk to a complex needs school

“It was timely with Norfolk local authority who had recently gone through an inspection process that had forced change, but with change presents opportunity. It was an exciting time to join the movement within the SEND sector. To be part of a growing workforce looking to change the landscape of provision and opportunity, focused on meeting the needs of all young people with SEND.

Having been fortunate to have now worked in Norfolk in the SEND sector it is clear that there is a shared vision amongst all maintained special schools, young people are at the heart of every decision made. It is great to be part of that. To work so collaboratively with other provisions, the Local authority and other agencies all who strive to create better outcomes for young people.

And personally, for me and my family, what an amazing part of the country to enjoy the culture and wonderful outdoors. You are always close to the countryside and never too far from the coast!”

A Learning Support Assistant who moved from mainstream across to a complex needs school

“I have worked in mainstream educational settings for over 20 years. The roles that I found the most rewarding were with the children who needed extra support; to help them achieve things that they never believed would be possible. However, in mainstream education it always felt that the school (through no fault of their own) encouraged the child to fit into a set curriculum, rather than to fit the curriculum to the child, my job primarily was to help that child to ‘keep up’ with their 29 peers rather than allow the child to play, be expressive and to excel in the parts of the curriculum that they enjoyed and could focus on. My current school allows the children to do this, to learn through play, to take calculated risks, to be individuals and most importantly to flourish in the areas that are important to them such as art, music, maths or Forest Schools, while learning valuable life skills along the way, for example; developing positive relationships or crossing a road safely to go to the shop. The school has high expectations but doesn’t put pressure on its pupils, instead it celebrates all achievements, big and small as every accomplishment is significant to that child.  

When I initially looked around the school it felt like a family, the children were enjoying their activities, the staff were friendly and worked as a team, it seemed as if you could make a positive difference to that child’s time at school, every day. When I began my TA role it didn’t disappoint, every day is different and I laugh and smile a lot, the role is fulfilling, sometimes challenging but by helping a child to gain new skills, to grow in confidence and to become independent learners in an environment suited to each and every one of them, then it makes every moment worthwhile. You really do go home everyday feeling that you have made a positive difference. The only regret that I have is I wish that I had applied to work in an SEN school 15 years ago.

I would encourage anyone thinking of making a career move into an SEND school to spend a day in one, you’ll be den building, dancing, creating, toasting marshmallows, singing and teaching algorithms all in one day! Working in a SEND school will make you a better person, it gives you a greater understanding of children’s needs; to nurture but not to take over, to listen as well as converse, to observe, to move on a child’s learning in a non conventional way, to work alongside a team of like minded people and to watch a child’s face light up with pride when they achieve success, cutting toast in half for the first time is very important! “