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Applying for schools

Most young people with special educational needs can be taught in mainstream schools even if they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). If your child has more severe or complex needs, a school with a special unit or a special school may be a better choice for them.

If your child does not have an Education, Health and Care Plan you will have apply for a school place following the normal admissions process. To find out more about this you should visit the RBWM Council Education page 

RBWM School Admissions external website

If your child has an EHC Plan and you are considering mainstream junior and secondary schools, you should be aware that you will be asked to express a preference for a school in the September of the year before they are due to move. You might therefore want to attend secondary open evenings in the autumn term of Year 5.

Most children with special needs who move into the area whether from other parts of the country or from overseas would go through the normal admissions process for a place in a maintained mainstream school.  

All maintained mainstream schools receive funding to be able to initially support a child with special educational needs on SEN support.  The school will monitor and review the child's progress over a period of time and will then make a request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment if it becomes apparent the child needs provision over and above what can be provided at SEN support.  

There are some exceptional cases when a child's needs are so profound that it is clear their needs cannot be met in a mainstream school.  On these occasions we will consider any existing professional advice the family has and may also involve other services such Educational Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy etc. Based on the information available an assessment placement in a special school may be agreed.  The EHC needs assessment will then be initiated when the child starts at the special school.

Each child is considered on an individual basis but, in the first instance, parents should contact the Schools Admissions Team to enquire which mainstream schools have a vacancy in their child's year group and then arrange to visit these schools in order to make an informed decision as to which school they would like their child to attend.   It is also worth noting that an application for a school cannot be processed until the child is living in the area.

The procedure for a child who has an EHCP moving into RBWM is different and is dealt with by The Children and Young People’s Disability Service (CYPDS).

Parents or the young person must notify their authority (‘old’ authority) of the new address and date of the move as soon as this is known.  The old authority will transfer the EHCP to us (‘new authority) either on the day of the move or within 15 days from when they became aware that the move had taken place.  We become responsible for maintaining the  EHCP from the date it is transferred to us.   Where practicable, the child or young person will continue to attend the school or college that is named in their Statement or EHCP.   However, when this is not possible, for example, when the distance between the child or young person’s new home and the educational setting is too far, we will find a temporary alternative placement until the Statement or the EHCP is formally amended.

Within six weeks from the date the EHCP transferred to us we will tell parents or the young person when we propose to carry out a review, which may be brought forward, or if we intend to carry out a new EHC needs assessment.

If your child is midway through an assessment when you move, the "old" authority will transfer the paperwork to the "new" authority. The "new" authority will then pick up the assessment.

If you would like further information or wish to discuss this please contact The Children and Young People’s Disability Service (CYPDS). 

If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan, the law says that you have the right to “express a preference” for the school you wish your son or daughter to attend. This means that you can tell the Local Authority (LA) which of the maintained schools in your area you would like your child to go to. A maintained school is one that belongs to or is managed by the LA, i.e. your local primary, secondary or special school, but not an independent or private school. The LA will then take your views into account when decisions are being made about which school can best meet your son or daughter’s needs. If your preference is for a mainstream school (not a special school) the LA has to agree unless it is “incompatible with the provision of efficient education for other children”

If you are asked by the LA to express a preference for a school it is important that you do so either in writing/email or by telephoning your childs case officer so that the details of your preferred school can be recorded in the relevant paperwork. That paperwork may be considered by special admissions panels that meet in the autumn term (junior and secondary transfer) and spring term (infants) to look at placing pupils in special schools and units. If this is the case for your child, the Year 1 or Year 5 Annual Review is the critical one. For young people going through transition,  the SEN team write to all parents seeking their parental preference.  We do not solely rely on the views at the Year 5 review as views may change. We write to parents in the summer term of year 5 and autumn term of year 6, dependant on when the year 5 review is held. 

At your son or daughter’s last Annual Review, there will have been a discussion about which school they should go to next. However, unless you had put the name of your preferred school in writing when you completed the Parental Report for the Annual Review, there may be no written record of the school for the LA to refer to.

If you do not know which school you prefer and are happy to wait for the outcome of the process, you should let the LA know that too, again by contacting your child’s case officer. If your child or young person has an EHCP you or the young person can express a preference for a wider range of institutions: 

  • Maintained schools.
  • Maintained nurseries.
  • Academies.
  • An institution within the further education sector in England.
  • Non maintained special school.
  • An institution approved by the Secretary of State under Section 41.

Education, Health and Care Plans run from 0 - 25 years so nurseries and further education institutions are also included.

If your child does have an Education, Health and Care Plan, the school named in their Plan must offer them a place by 15 February in the year that they are due to start school.

It is important for you to know that if your child is being assessed by Achieving for Children for special educational needs – including an Education, Care and Health assessment - you should follow the normal admissions process for applying for a school place. If you do not apply for a place and your child does not get an Education, Care and Health Plan you may miss out on a place at one of your preferred schools.