This information is for parents and carers of children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in Year 1 (and moving to a junior school) and Year 5 (and moving to a secondary school).
Moving to a new school can be an anxious time for families, so this information aims to help guide you through the school admissions process for children with an EHC Plan as it is different to the usual admission process. The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Service manages the phase transfers of children with EHC Plans and are there to help and support you through this important transition. This includes children transferring from infant to junior school, or from junior or primary school to secondary school.
If your child is undergoing an EHC needs assessment you will need to follow the mainstream admissions process and your child’s education setting will be considered if an EHC Plan is agreed.
For the majority of children with an EHC Plan their needs can be met in their local mainstream school. All of Kingston and Richmond’s state-funded mainstream schools have a SEND department and have experience supporting children with a diverse range of SEND.
Mainstream SEND support will include, but is not limited to:
- experienced and qualified teachers providing quality first teaching
- differentiated curriculum
- small group activities/learning opportunities
- targeted and specific interventions
- access to external agencies; Educational Psychology Service, Speech and Language Therapy specialist outreach, etc
- a qualified special educational needs coordinator (SENCO)
- differentiated application of school policies in line with children’s SEND
Some children’s needs are more complex and they will require more support in mainstream school or will need to be educated in a state-funded special school. The type of provision Achieving for Children believes would best suit your child’s needs will be discussed through the Annual Review process.
Types of school in Kingston and Richmond and key dates
Our full-time, state-funded school offer for statutory school-age children comprises the following three pathways:
Children with EHC Plans are fully included within the mainstream education offer which is differentiated according to their needs. Support set out in children’s EHC Plans is coordinated by the SENCO and delivered by teachers, teaching assistants and on-site or visiting specialists such as educational psychologists or speech and language therapists. Most provision is delivered within the classroom. Some provisions may be delivered to children withdrawn from the classroom for short periods of time. All teachers are qualified teachers. All teachers are teachers of children with SEND, in accordance with the Teaching Standards. Schools deliver or arrange training for teachers and teaching assistants to support children in line with the provision in their EHC Plans.
Mainstream schools with specialist resourced provision (SRP) and mainstream schools with enhanced specialist teaching arrangements (ESTA)
Children with EHC Plans spend some of their time in a dedicated resourced provision, staffed by teachers or specialist teachers, teaching assistants and on-site or visiting specialists with training who are skilled and/or have experience in a specialist area of SEND. Children with EHC Plans are otherwise fully included within the mainstream education offer which is differentiated according to their needs. Support set-out in children’s EHC Plans is coordinated by the SENCO, the Teacher in Charge of the SRP and/or the Specialist Teacher. Other teaching is delivered by teachers, teaching assistants and on-site or visiting specialists such as educational psychologists or speech and language therapists. There are only several of these specialist places available in each year’s intake, and they are allocated to children who have more complex needs.
Only children with EHC Plans may attend special schools. Special schools are organised around particular types of SEND and specialise in that area. The curriculum is significantly differentiated. All teachers and teaching assistants have substantial knowledge, experience and skills in the area that the school specialises in. While special schools follow the national curriculum, the teaching and learning is very differentiated and some aspects of it may not be followed to the same degree as mainstream schools. As such, many special schools offer qualification routes different to GCSEs. There are only several of these specialist places available in each year’s intake, and they are allocated to children who have more complex needs
State-funded schools used to be known as ‘maintained’ schools, that is they were under direct control, and the responsibility of Local Authorities. Now, though, while some schools continue to be maintained by Local Authorities, there are many more varied types of state-funded schools. While the rules sometimes vary between these different types of state-funded schools, they are all subject to the same rules in regards to admitting children with special educational needs, including those with Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans.
The different types of state-funded schools in Kingston and Richmond include:
- Voluntary Aided
- Church Aided
- Academy Mainstream Schools and Special Schools: An academy is a state-funded school that is run by an academy trust, funded entirely by central government and sets its own admissions policy
- Free Schools: Like academies, free schools are independent of the local authority and are funded directly by central government
The Year 1 and 5 annual review process
Before the review meeting
- The school must invite Achieving for Children, parents, carers, your child and any other professionals (for example, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, educational psychologist and physiotherapist, etc) currently working with your child. Achieving for Children is prioritising its attendance at this review and will attend as many as possible.
- Everyone invited including parents and carers are asked for any advice and information to be given to school. The school should send this advice to everyone at least two weeks before the meeting.
- For children looked after, the social worker will also be invited. It may be appropriate for annual reviews to coincide with one of the reviews in their care plan. The personal education plan (PEP) meetings aim to drive forward academic progress and enable students to close their gaps in learning.
At this annual review meeting
- The end of Key Stage 1 or 2 outcomes from the EHC plan should be reviewed. If any are no longer appropriate or have been met, new outcomes can be suggested for the SEND Service to consider in an amended EHC Plan
- The short-term targets from the past 12 months should be reviewed and new ones set for the next 12 months
- If you did not submit information when requested your views of the year, progress. etc can be recorded from the meeting
- The meeting should centre on your child. The child must have the opportunity to contribute, and their views must be sought and they may attend the meeting if appropriate.
- Review any health and social care provision and its effectiveness in supporting progress towards outcomes
- Discussion should be held about what type of school may meet your child’s need in the future
- Discussion should include how best to prepare your child to be a more independent learner, to begin preparing for their next phase of learning
After the annual review meeting
- The school must send a report of the annual review meeting to everyone invited or involved to the meeting, no-later than two weeks after the meeting. Parents or carers should be invited to see and sign this before it is sent
- Achieving for Children must inform parents or carers whether it proposes to amend, cease or maintain the EHC plan, no-later than four weeks of the annual review meeting.
- Parents and carers should continue to research future schools
Beginning to form your preferences for a school
Step 1: Collecting information on schools
Find out about schools you might be interested in your child moving up to. Information about state-funded schools in Kingston and Richmond is on the Local Offer on Achieving for Children’s website, for Richmond Schools and Kingston Schools. Information about schools covered in Section 41 of the SEND regulations is available here.
View Ofsted’s school inspection reports here.
View other Local Authority websites or other school websites if you are considering a state-funded school outside of Kingston or Richmond or an independent or non-maintained school.
Arrange to speak with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at schools you might be interested in. You need to contact schools directly - we cannot help arrange this on your behalf, but we have provided links to school websites, including videos from schools (opens a new window)
Ask others for further information and support. You may want to contact the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) (opens a new window)
Step 2: Consider how your child will get to and from school
Moving up a school, especially to secondary school, is a time when children are keen to develop their independence and would like to travel to school with their friends, if they can. The law states that it is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child regularly attends school - that includes arranging how they will travel to and from school. We encourage parents to carefully consider how their school preferences might affect getting their child to and from school, as these arrangements will need to be made for several years.
Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those with EHC Plans, are not automatically eligible for assistance with home to school transport. The large majority of families, including those with children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities - whether or not they have an EHC Plan - make their own arrangements for how their child will travel to and from school.
Children who are under 8 years old may be eligible to receive assistance with home to school transport if they attend a school more than two miles from home, and no nearer suitable school is available; children who are 8 years old and older may be eligible to receive assistance with home to school transport if they attend a school more than 3 miles from home, and no nearer suitable school is available. Some children’s special educational needs and/or disabilities make them eligible for assistance with home to school transport. And there are other variations. You can read more about assistance with home to school transport (opens a new window).
Transport for London has a useful website for travel routes and times (opens a new window) You can also phone their 24 hour travel information line on 0343 222 1234
Step 3: Deciding which school best fits the needs of your child as detailed in their EHC plan
The majority of children’s special educational needs can be met within state-funded mainstream schools in Kingston and Richmond. In almost all cases, it is much better for your child’s social, emotional and educational needs to attend their nearest local school so they understand and access their local community, maintain friendships out of school and limit the time spent travelling. For a small number of children with an EHC Plan, a more specialist provision may be more suitable. This might be a specialist resourced provision or enhanced specialist teaching arrangement in a mainstream school or a special school. This will have been discussed at the Year 1 or Year 5 annual review meeting.
Step 4: Considering your parental preference
Parents and carers of children who have an EHC Plan have a right to express a preference for:
- a maintained school and any form of academy or free school (mainstream and special)
- non-maintained special school
- an independent school (where it has been approved, for this purpose, by the Secretary of State and is on the Section 41 list)
When your child’s current school continues into key stage 2 or key stage 3 (secondary school)
If your child attends a primary school, we will not ask for your preferences as your child will be continuing into the next phase of their education in the same school.
If your child attends an infant or junior school, we will ask you for your preferences because they will be changing schools, even if those schools traditionally feed into another school.
If your child attends a school that continues into secondary age we will still ask you for your secondary school preference. You may prefer that your child continues in the same school but we may also consult with other suitable schools.
Looked after Children
Children who are being accommodated, or who have been taken into care, by a local authority (under Section 20, or Section 31 or Section 38 of the Children Act 1989) are legally defined as being ‘looked after’ by the local authority. Where your child is looked after and they have an EHC Plan it is important to liaise with your social worker and/or the Virtual School, as well as the EHC Coordinator in the SEND Service.
Step 5: Submitting your parental preferences
Achieving for Children will write to you in early June 2021. You will have up to 11.59 pm on 31 July to submit your preferences by completing an online form (the link to the form is in the letter that the SEND Service writes to parents in early June).
You will be asked to submit two preferences, in order of your first and second preference. We encourage you to submit both the first and second preference as we cannot guarantee that any one school is suitable to your child’s needs, or will have capacity to offer us a place. If your preferences do not include a local state-funded school or you do not express a first and/or second preference we may consult what we believe to be the nearest, suitable school.
If you do not submit a completed preference form
Achieving for Children will consult with what it believes to be your child’s nearest suitable school.
What Achieving for Children do next
Step 1: Consulting schools
Once all preferences have been received from parents and carers Achieving for Children will consult with all state-funded schools and independent special schools approved by the Secretary of State (Section 41 of the Children’s and Families Act 2014) you have listed. If your preference is for a state-funded school maintained by another Local Authority, we will send it to that Local Authority and they will consult with their schools.
As part of the consultation process, schools may contact you and your child’s current school to request that they visit your child in that school. If you have not already visited the school, they may request that you and your child visit (this is dependent on the Covid-19 situation, and any requests for you to visit will be made by the school).
Step 2: The paperwork sent to schools
The SEND Service sends your child’s current EHC Plan, appendices, and the most recent annual review documentation to prospective schools (or other Local Authority).
If there are additional documents that you feel should be included then you must let the EHC Casework Assistant in the SEND Service know before the consultations are sent. It is strongly advised that you submit these additional documents when you submit your preferences; however if you submit documents at a separate point, please email them to the SEND Team by no later than 11.59 pm on 31 August.
Step 3: How places are allocated
School places are allocated in accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014, which requires Achieving for Children to take into account the child’s special educational needs, parental preference and the formal view of the schools requested before making a decision.
Places will be allocated based on parents’ preference wherever possible, unless:
- the school is unsuitable for the child’s age, ability, aptitude or SEN
- the placement would be incompatible with the efficient education of the others or the efficient use of resources
If there are more applications than any one school can accommodate a range of factors will be taken into account when determining placements.
Step 4: Finding out what school your child has been given
Once the SEND Service has agreed which school your child will attend from September 2022, it will send you their final amended EHC Plan, naming that school. This is confirmation of the school place and you will not receive further notification of this. Where possible, Achieving for Children will begin issuing final amended EHC Plans from mid December and must have issued all final amended EHC Plans no later than 15 February in the calendar year your child moves to the next phase school.
Step 5: Disagreeing with the named school
Achieving for Children follows the rules about naming schools in EHC Plans very closely. In most cases, we are able to name one of your preferred schools in the EHC Plan, but it may sometimes not be possible to do so. If you disagree with the school named in your child’s amended final EHC Plan, please contact your EHC Coordinator in the SEND Service. We will explain why we have named the school that we have, and consider if we might be able to make a different decision.
If you continue to disagree with our decision, you may appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs & Disability). If you decide to appeal, you must do so within two months of the date of the letter when we sent you the final amended EHC Plan. More details will be given in the letter you are sent with the EHC plan. But in any case we urge you to continue talking with your EHC Coordinator before you submit an appeal.
Schools in other local authority areas
If you prefer for your child to attend a state-funded school in another local authority area, you must still submit your online preference form to us. Schools have relationships and accountabilities to the local authorities where they reside; only those local authorities can offer us places in those schools.
If you express preferences for school(s) in another local authority area, we will still consult with what we believe to be the nearest suitable state-funded school(s) in Kingston and Richmond. This is because we cannot guarantee that a place will be offered at the school you prefer which is maintained by or has a direct relationship with another local authority.
Independent schools and non-maintained special schools
You may also express a preference for:
- an independent school which has been approved, for this purpose, by the Secretary of State (Section 41 of the Children’s and Families Act 2014). Parents and carers can access these lists online: www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-special-schools-and-colleges
- a non-maintained special school
Achieving for Children must consult with this school and comply with this preference unless:
- the school is unsuitable for the child’s age, ability, aptitude or SEN
- the placement would be incompatible with the efficient education of the others or the efficient use of resources
You can also make representations for a place at an independent school that is not approved by the Secretary of State (Section 41 of the Children’s and Families Act 2014). Achieving for Children must consider your preference but it is not under the same conditional duty to name this school.
However, Achieving for Children must have regard to the general principle that children should be educated in accordance with their parents' wishes so long as the school is suitable and does not mean unreasonable public expenditure.
Achieving for Children will consider your preference for an independent school but will also consider what it considers to be the nearest suitable school(s). In line with the rules any decision about whether to place a child at an independent school will be made with consideration of Achieving for Children’s efficient use of resources.
If you express a preference for an independent school, that school’s staff may wish to invite your child for a visit or assessment to decide whether they would be able to meet your child’s needs and send parents or carers a letter offering a place. Please note that Achieving for Children will not pay for any assessments in these circumstances - that will be up to you to pay. Assessments and any offers of a place do not guarantee that Achieving for Children will name your preferred school in your child’s EHC plan.
Advice or support
You may wish to seek advice or support from the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information and Advice Support Service (SENDIASS or any other independent parent/carer advocacy group. Further information can be found on the Local Offer(opens a new window).
The Year 2 and Year 6 annual review process
By this time, Achieving for Children will have issued you an amended final EHC Plan, naming your child’s next school.
Before the review meeting
The school must invite Achieving for Children, parents, carers, your child and any other professionals (for example, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, educational psychologist and physiotherapist, etc) currently working with your child. If placement is agreed the receiving school should be invited too.
Everyone invited (including parents and carers) are asked for any advice and information to be given to school. The school should send it to everyone at least two weeks before the meeting.
For children looked after, the social worker will also be invited. It may be appropriate for annual reviews to coincide with one of the reviews in their care plan. The personal education plan (PEP) meetings serve to drive forward academic progress and enable students to close their gaps in learning.
At this review meeting
- The end of Key Stage 2 or 3 outcomes in the EHC plan should be reviewed.
- The short-term targets from the past 12 months should be reviewed and new ones set for the next 12 months. These will then be appended to the EHC plan.
- Your views on the progress your child has made over the past year can be recorded from the meeting or you can write a report which will be appended
- The meeting should centre on your child. The child should be invited to contribute, their views must be sought and they may attend the meeting if appropriate.
- Review any health and social care provision and its effectiveness in good progress towards outcomes
- A discussion should be held about what needs to be put in place to support a successful transition to the next school.
Following the review meeting
The school must send a report of the annual review meeting within two weeks of the meeting. Parents and carers should see and sign a copy before it is sent to everyone invited to the meeting.
Achieving for Children must send parents or carers a letter stating whether they will amend, cease or maintain the EHC plan within four weeks of the annual review meeting. As the EHC plan would have been recently amended to take account of your child’s transfer to the the next key stage or phase of their education, it is likely that further amendments will not be necessary
The planned transition to the next phase of education will take place.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to complete an online form to the Admissions Service as well?
If your child already has an EHC Plan, and you live in Kingston or Richmond, the SEND Service will write to you and provide you a link to an online form that is specifically for children with EHC Plans. If your child does not yet have an EHC plan - perhaps they are undergoing an EHC needs assessment - you will need to apply through the general school admissions through their online application. If your child has a draft EHC plan issued to you by Achieving for Children, the SEND Service will write to you regarding your phase transfer preferences.
What happens if I want my child to move from a mainstream school to a special school?
If your child is currently in a mainstream school and you are requesting a special school, we will need to be satisfied that there is evidence this type of provision is appropriate in order to demonstrate that such a placement would be an efficient use of resources. This evidence should be discussed at the Year 1 or Year 5 annual review meeting. The reasons why a special school placement might be necessary should be recorded and the evidence to support this should be appended.
What will happen if you only state one preference?
If you only state one preference by 31 July 2021, we will consult with that school and any other schools that we consider may be suitable. If your preferred school is unable to offer a place, we will then name the nearest suitable school to your home address in your child’s EHC Plan.
What will happen if you do not submit your preferences?
If you do not submit any preferences by 31 July 2021, we can only consult with schools that we consider may be suitable, and we will then name the nearest suitable school to your home address in your child’s EHC Plan.
Delaying consultations will significantly interrupt Achieving for Children’s ability to amend your child’s EHC Plan by the statutory, national deadline of 15 February. We will of course continue to work with you. We recognise there will be a very small number of families whose particular circumstances mean they cannot commit to meet this deadline. In those circumstances, we urge you to speak with your Education, Health and Care Coordinator in the Special Educational Needs & Disability Service to talk this through.
What happens if you electively home educate your child?
If you already electively home educate your child and you wish to continue doing this, or if you wish to do this from September 2022 you can let us know that on the preference form. If we are satisfied that you can make or arrange the provision in your child’s EHC Plan, we will amend it to reflect your preference. Achieving for Children will not be responsible for making or arranging any of the provisions in your child’s EHC Plan - that will be up to you.
What happens if my only preferences are for independent schools, approved or not?
We will always consult with what we consider may be the nearest, suitable school. Achieving for Children has a legal duty to ensure that your preferred school can meet the special educational needs of your child and that the placement would be a reasonable use of public expenditure, taking into account any/all costs such as the place cost, travel assistance, therapies, etc.
Who should I contact if I have questions about the consultations that will be or have been sent to my preferred schools?
Consultations are administered by the Casework Assistants in the SEND Service, so in most cases they should be able to answer your questions. However, if they cannot, they will refer it to your EHC Coordinator. You can contact the SEND Team by phone on 020 8547 5872 or email email@example.com
Can I find out all the schools Achieving for Children has consulted?
For reasons explained earlier, Achieving for Children may consult with schools other than those you have a preference for. In these situations you will be informed of all the schools that are being consulted and the reasons why.
How does Achieving for Children make decisions about independent schools?
Once the consultation responses have been received all information including any costs associated with the placement will be considered by a panel of professionals who will advise Achieving for Children on which school your child should attend. Each preference is carefully considered on an individual basis but within the context and cohort of all the children who are transferring. This is to help ensure that every child has a suitable school that can meet their special educational needs.