What needs to be considered for school placement with SEND?

What needs to be considered for school placement with SEND?

Table of Contents

School Placement

The school placement is identified in section I of the Education  Health and Care plan, if one has been made.

The child’s parent or young person’s preference is the starting point generally speaking. There is a presumption in law that the local authority will name the school (a maintained school; a maintained nursery school; an academy; a further education institution (England); a non-maintained special school; or an approved independent special school or post-16 institution) requested by the child’s parent or young person.

A local authority is not required to name a school where:

  • the school or institution requested is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs (SEN) of the child or young person;
  • compliance with the preference would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others; and
  • compliance with the preference would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources.

The exception does not apply where the Local Authority or the Tribunal form the view that mainstream education is not suitable for the child or young person’s special educational needs.

EOTAS or education otherwise than at school can be provided where it is inappropriate for provision to be made at a school or post-16 institution.

The fees for residential schools/placements where named are the responsibility of the Local Authority. If the SEN provision requires the child or young person to board and lodge (in other words the SEN provision cannot be provided unless the child or young person boards and lodges there) the Local Authority is responsible for the fees associated with that.

If parents do not exercise parental preference the Local Authority may name the type of school/institution in the plan.

In certain circumstances, a waking day curriculum may be required.

If there is a dispute between the Local Authority and the parent the Tribunal will consider whether each of the schools is appropriate to meet the child’s needs.  The educational institution should be appropriate. Whether a school is appropriate will turn on the needs identified and the SEN provision required to meet those needs and what the school offers and what the child needs which must match to be appropriate.

In very general terms, the FTT will ask itself on an appeal:

  • Is each school appropriate to meet the child’s needs?
  • If the local authority school is inappropriate, the FTT will normally name the school proposed by the parent or young person.
  • If the parental school is not appropriate, that defeats the parental preference.
  • If both schools are appropriate, the FTT will need to consider whether any of the other exceptions defeat the parental choice and if not then the FTT should name the school preferred by the parent or young person.

Regard must also be had to s9 of the Education Act 1996:

Pupils to be educated in accordance with parents’ wishes.

In exercising or performing all their respective powers and duties under the Education Acts, the Secretary of State and local authorities shall have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.

The position is different in relation to non-qualifying schools.

Please contact us if we can help you in relation to schooling for your child or young person.