Special Educational Needs and Secondary School Admissions Advice

Portrait of Emma Davies
Emma Davies
Senior Associate Lawyer, Education and Community Care

Following the March 1st deadline for secondary school admissions, many parents may be considering their right of appeal if they haven’t got their first-choice place for September 2022.

But for parents of children who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to meet their Special Educational Needs (SEN), it’s important to know that the standard secondary school admissions process does not apply.

For legal advice get in touch with our Education Solicitors and SEN Lawyers.

Call us on 0808 239 9764 or request a callback

Secondary School Placements for Children with an EHCP

Parents of children who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) aren’t required to make an application for secondary school places to their Local Authority in the normal admissions round, as the question of secondary school placements for these children should be addressed through a transition review of their EHCP.

Transition Review of an EHCP

The Local Authority must issue the Final EHCP, for secondary school admissions, to parents by the statutory deadline of February 15th.

In Section I of this transition EHCP, the Local Authority must name the secondary school the child will attend from the upcoming September, as well as their current placement. If you aren’t happy with the school named, you can register an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal). You cannot appeal through the normal secondary school admission appeals process.

If your Local Authority hasn’t issued your transition EHC Plan yet, then our Education Solicitors and SEN Lawyers can offer legal advice on what steps can now be taken, including the option of a potential claim for Judicial Review against the Local Authority for missing this deadline.

Any application needs to be made quickly so it’s important to contact us as soon as possible so we can advise on the options and next steps to take to make sure your child has an appropriate secondary school placement that can meet their SEN.

What if my Child has SEN but Doesn’t Have an EHCP?

If your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN) but doesn’t have an EHC Plan, then you’ll have been asked to instead apply for a secondary school place through the normal school admissions process.

If you aren’t happy with the placement allocated to your child, you will appeal through the normal admission appeals process, and not the Tribunal process, and our specialist Education Lawyers can assist you with this.

What if There is a School Place Available?

A school must usually offer a place when they receive a parents’ application regardless of whether the child does or doesn’t have any SEN. This requirement doesn’t apply if a child is over compulsory school age, and if they’ve had 2 or more permanent exclusions within the past 2 years and weren’t reinstated. If a school refuses a place on the basis of behaviour, you should seek advice as to whether this is lawful as the School Admissions Code has recently changed in relation to this.

What if There Aren’t Enough School Places to Meet Demand?

Schools will need to apply their over-subscription criteria to the applications for that school. If your child has specific medical or social needs that could relate to a SEN, it may have been possible to apply for a place under a school’s ‘medical and social needs’ criteria, if they have one (not all schools do). In doing so, it’s important that, by the time of your application, you’ve provided up-to-date evidence to show why the school you are requesting can meet those needs, and you may want to provide further evidence during the appeal process.

The Admissions Authority, when determining applications, will initially need to decide if they will allow a child to be given higher priority under this criterion (as long as their over-subscription criteria allows it). If they agree, then your application will be considered in line with the school’s other over-subscription criteria.

What to Do Next

If you’re a parent of a child who has SEN, either with or without an EHC Plan, and are unhappy with their secondary school placement and you would like help on appealing this decision, then get in touch with our specialist Education Solicitors and Lawyers.

For legal advice call our Education Solicitors

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