Changing Schools 2020 - The Phase Transfer Process

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It’s an important time of year if you have a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who is making the transition into primary or secondary school.

By now, you should know which school your child will attend from September, but many parents contact us with concerns over the transfer process that has been followed by their Local Authority in the lead up to such an important decision.

To help you understand this process, our Education and SEN Lawyers have summarised the key parts of it below. If you require legal advice please contact our Education Law Solicitors.

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EHCP Annual Review

If you have a child who has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and they’re due to transfer to either the primary or secondary phase of their education, then the Local Authority should have carried out an annual review of your child’s EHCP well in advance.

The review is there so the Local Authority can review the child’s progress, identify their ongoing needs and the provision to meet those needs. This is in addition to identifying a suitable school placement for the next phase of their education.  Once the Local Authority has completed the review, the deadline for issuing an amended Final EHCP is 15 February.

The Local Authority should start the annual review process in the autumn term of the year before your child moves to a new setting. This is to allow plenty of time for school consultations to be completed.

The Local Authority must consult with you as the parent, and take into account your views, wishes and feelings. The school that your child will attend should also be consulted and information from the school and any other professionals involved should also considered ideally before the review meeting.

After the meeting, the Local Authority must send any proposed amendments to your child’s EHCP and a copy of it to you within four weeks. You only have 15 days after that to give your views about the content of the amended EHC plan and to give your preference of which school your child will be placed in. Even though you’ve probably already expressed a preference in meetings, it’s a good idea to confirm this preference in writing when you’re asked to.

How the Local Authority Decides Which School Your Child Attends

The Local Authority should take into account your ‘parental’ preference when naming a school for your son or daughter, but this is not the only consideration. You, as a parent, have a right to request any school that can meet your child’s Special Educational Needs. This includes a maintained school, an academy or an independent school as set out in Section 38(3) of the Children and Families Act 2014.

The Local Authority can refuse your request for a particular school, but if they do refuse, it can only be for one of the following reasons:

  • The setting is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or Special Educational Needs of your child
  • Your child’s attendance at the requested school would be incompatible with the provision of the efficient education of others
  • Your child’s attendance at the requested school would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources.

The Local Authority must choose one of these reasons to refuse your parental preference and it’s up to them to prove it.

If the Local Authority finalise the EHCP and name a different school, you can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

You must act quickly though as you only have two months after the decision letter to make an appeal. You can speak to one of our specialist Education Law Solicitors for advice on making an appeal to a Tribunal.

If you don’t think your Local Authority has followed the process correctly, you’re worried about the decision they’ve made, or they’ve not met the Phase Transfer Deadline, we can help you.  

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