Hello!!! I am currently helping put together an appeal for a SEN case where DC is at a state secondary with unit attached which should suit the needs of that child (who has a statement). I also know a large number of people through my work with DC in specialist school's for one reason or another, although mainstream school's out there can be great and as you say word of mouth is the best recommendation.
What I can say is that it is hard enough having a child and getting them the best education possible without the added SEN! It's an absolute minefield but can recommend a charitable organisation off the top of my head which has loads of useful information. I trust that because it's a non profit group I can link, but apologise if not:http://www.ipsea.org.uk/
This I though was quite interesting:http://www.ipsea.org.uk/Apps/Content/HTML/?id=244
It's a case study of a DC with Dyslexia who was not awarded a statement. Also have to say that to get funding is probably around a 27 and a half trillion to 1 chance....
Good luck with your search