Education provision and facilities available for children with Down syndrome varies widely across the world. 

In some countries, most children with Down syndrome attend their local mainstream primary school along with brothers and sisters and other children from their community. Some parents of children with additional complex needs may prefer them to go to a special school. Whatever the decision made should be based on the needs and circumstances of the individual child and the education provision available.

Before starting school, it is helpful to make a visit and meet the teachers and any support staff.  Taking some photographs and getting information about timetable and routines to share and discuss can be helpful to make the transition more familiar.

Extra support in school

The vast majority of children with Down syndrome will need more help than is normally available from the school’s existing resources. In some countries, an assessment of the educational needs of every child with learning difficulties is coordinated by local authorities leading to the creation of a document which outlines their specific needs and requirements. This type of document is usually formally reviewed annually and used throughout the child's years in education.

Children with Down syndrome will learn more slowly than other children, but also have a specific pattern of strengths and difficulties. This is known as the ‘learning profile’, of which the school should be informed. In many countries, schools have a duty to adapt the curriculum as necessary for children with special needs. This can mean having more help in the classroom, using more hands on visual teaching or providing simpler work within the same topic. 

Children with Down syndrome will generally benefit from speech and language therapy to help with their specific language difficulties. Where facilities allow, this can be provided by a speech and language therapist visiting the school to draw up a programme and train and advise school staff. Other individual direct therapy sessions may also be beneficial. All children have individual and different needs and there is no unique 'support package' that is right for all children with Down syndrome.

Working with the school

Parents/carers and school staff should work together to ensure that children with Down syndrome make the best possible progress and that any difficulties are ironed out at an early stage. This could be by scheduling regular meetings with the teacher and support staff, having a home-school book to share information or by having a conversation diary detailing something that the child enjoyed at that day to prompt conversation at home or at school.