No ECHP, No School?
If your child has autism but is yet to receive an Education Care and Health (ECH) Plan, you may be in a very tricky situation with regards to primary school admission appeals.
How Do I Appeal?
If your child has a special educational need (SEN) and they don't have an ECH Plan, then you are subject to the same appeals process as a child that does not have autism. If your child did have an ECH Plan, then your appeal would have been processed by the Special Educational Needs Tribunal where their autism would have been given weight in terms of the appeal decision.
Parents of children without ECH Plans will have to appeal using the process used by other children that don't have SEN by using the Independent Appeal Panel.
If you feel that your child's application was refused because they were discriminated against, or your application was treated differently from other children due to a protected characteristic such as their autism, then you may be able to claim disability discrimination. The admissions authority is under an obligation from the Equality Act and cannot refuse to admit your child to the school because of a protected characteristic. If you believe this is the case, then you should consider seeking specialist school admission appeal advice.
If your child hasn't been discriminated against, then you will have to use the oversubscription criteria to fight for a school place. Oversubscription criteria must be published by all schools to show how they allocate school places when there are more applications than places available.
Common oversubscription criteria used by schools are:
- Being in local authority care
- Having a sibling that already attends the school
- Living close to the school
- Going to a named feeder school
- Living in the catchment area
- Having exceptional social or medical reasons for choosing that particular school - this is the hardest one to rely on
Many parents check the oversubscription criteria to gauge how successful they may be at the appeal stage. In the majority of cases, the criteria will be applied correctly but in some instances it can go wrong. If you think they have made a genuine mistake, then you should contact the admission authority as soon as possible. If they think they have not made a mistake and you still disagree with what is written in your child's appeal papers, then you should seek legal advice and tell your solicitor
the reasons why you think the local authority made a mistake.
A solicitor will be able to pick out the unique parts of your case and help you to present them in the best possible way. Our school admissions team has had success, year upon year, helping children and their parents gain their preferred school place. Along with your solicitor, you should look carefully at all the reasons the school has given for refusing your child a place. All appeals must be submitted in writing so it is important that you get the right message across loud and clear.School admission appeals are a two-stage process and your solicitor can support you all the way. To help parents through the appeals process, we are offering parents the chance to download our free school admission appeal guide. You can also use our interactive map to see how parents fared last year when making school appeals.