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. This information is to help guide you through the school admissions process for children with an EHCP, which is different to the usual admission process. This includes children transferring from infant to junior school, or from junior or primary school to secondary school.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Service manages school allocations of children with EHCPs and is here to help and support you through this important transition.
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 EHCP is agreed.
Most children with an EHCP attend 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 services such as 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. You will have plenty of opportunities to speak with professionals in your child’s Year 1 or Year 5 Annual Review of their EHCP.
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 EHCPs are fully included within the mainstream education offer which is differentiated according to their needs. The provision in children’s EHCPs 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 EHCPs.
Mainstream schools with specialist resourced provision (SRP) and mainstream schools with enhanced specialist teaching arrangements (ESTA)
Children with EHCPs spend some of their time in a dedicated resourced provision, staffed by teachers or specialist teachers, teaching assistants and on-site or visiting specialists who are skilled and/or have experience in a specialist area of SEND. Children with EHCPs are otherwise fully included within the mainstream education offer which is differentiated according to their needs. Provision in children’s EHCPs 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 EHCPs 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 the most complex needs
State funded schools
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 EHCPs. 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 Annual Review meeting
- Schools arrange Annual Reviews for children who attend them. If your child does not attend a school, the SEND Service will usually arrange it.
- The school must invite Achieving for Children, parents, carers, your child and any other currently involved professionals for example the educational psychologist, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, etc.
- Achieving for Children’s EHC Coordinators cannot attend every child’s Annual Review, but they will usually prioritise attending Annual Reviews in Year 1 and Year 5.
- Professionals and families are asked to provide any advice and information to the school at least two weeks before the Annual Review meeting.
- The school will share all the information with everyone invited no later than two weeks before the Annual Review meeting.
- If you don’t submit information when requested, you can raise them at the Annual Review meeting.
- For children in the care of the local authority, 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 the Annual Review meeting
- Annual Reviews are an opportunity to celebrate and support children achieving their outcomes and to review and understand if anything is preventing that from happening. If outcomes have been achieved or are no longer appropriate, the Annual Review can suggest new outcomes to the SEND Service, to consider if they should be included in an amended EHCP. The previous year’s steps towards outcomes will be reviewed, and new steps towards outcomes can be set for the next year.
- All children and young people will be encouraged and supported to contribute to and attend their Annual Review.
- The Year 1 and Year 5 Annual Review meeting will include discussion about what type of school may best meet your child’s need in the future. The Annual Review meeting will also include discussion about how best to prepare your child to be a more independent learner, to help prepare them for the next phase of their learning.
After the Annual Review meeting
- The school must send a report to everyone invited to or involved to the Annual Review meeting, no later than two weeks after the meeting. Parents or carers will usually be invited to review and sign this report before it is sent more widely.
- Achieving for Children must inform parents or carers whether it proposes to amend, cease or maintain the EHCP, no later than four weeks of the Annual Review meeting.
- Parents and carers should continue to research their preferred schools.
Beginning to form your preferences for a school
Step 1: Gathering information about 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:
- Richmond schools (opens a new window)
- Kingston schools (opens a new window)
- Out of borough schools (opens a new window)
Look at 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. 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)
Read school inspection reports
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 is clear that it is parents’ 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 EHCPs, are not automatically eligible for assistance with home to school transport. Most families, including those with children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities - whether or not they have an EHCP - 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.
The Transport for London website contains 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(s) you prefer
Most children with special educational needs and disabilities succeed in their education at their local, state-funded mainstream school in Kingston and Richmond. It is almost always better for your child’s social, emotional and educational needs to attend their nearest local school so they know and can be part of their local community, make and keep friendships out of school and limit the time spent travelling. A small number of children with EHCPs require more specialist education. This might be a mainstream school with a specialist resourced provision or enhanced specialist teaching arrangement or a special school. You will have already discussed this at your child’s Year 1 or Year 5 Annual Review meeting.
Step 4: Telling us your school(s) preference
As your child has an EHCP, you may express a preference for:
- a state-funded mainstream or special school including any form of academy or free school
- a non-maintained special school
- an independent special school (where it has been approved, for this purpose, by the Secretary of State and is on the Section 41 list (opens a new window)
- elective home education
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, even if those schools traditionally feed into another school, because they will be moving up a school.
If your child attends a school that continues into secondary age we will still ask you for your preferences. 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 EHCP it is important to liaise with your social worker and/or the Virtual School, as well as your EHC Coordinator in the SEND Service.
Step 5: Submitting your parental preferences
Achieving for Children will write to you in April. You will have up to 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 directly to you).
You will be asked to submit two preferences, in order of your first and second preference. We encourage you to submit both a first and second preference as we cannot guarantee that any one school is suitable to your child’s needs, or that it 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 will also consult what we believe to be the nearest, suitable school.
If you do not submit a completed preference form
Please see the frequently asked questions below on this page.
What Achieving for Children will 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.
Step 2: The paperwork sent to schools
The SEND Service sends your child’s current EHCP, appendices, and the most recent Annual Review report to prospective schools or other local authorities, if you prefer a school in another area.
If there are additional documents that you feel should be included then you must send them by email to the SEND Service, at around the same time you submit the online preference form, and no later than 31 August.
Step 3: Consultation replies and how we allocate places
We carefully consider schools’ consultation responses.
We allocate places in accordance with the rules in the Children and Families Act 2014, which requires us to take into account the child’s special educational needs and provision, 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, the SEND Service and schools will consider all the factors when determining placements.
Step 4: Telling you what school your child has been allocated
Once the SEND Service has agreed which school your child will move up to, we will send you their amended final EHCP, 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 amended final EHCPs from mid December and must have issued all amended final EHCPs no later than 15 February in the calendar year your child moves up to their next school.
If we are unable to secure a suitable school place by 15 February, we will name a type of school and continue to work with you and schools to secure your child a place as quickly as possible.
Step 5: Disagreeing with the named school
Achieving for Children follows the rules about naming schools in EHCPs very closely. In most cases, we are able to name one of your preferred schools in your child’s EHCP, but it may sometimes not be possible to do so. If you disagree with the school named in your child’s amended final EHCP, 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 and Disability. If you decide to appeal, you must do so within two months of the date of the letter when we sent you the amended final EHCP. The letter you receive with your child’s amended final EHCP will include more information. 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, and we will work with the other local authority SEND Service. Schools have relationships and accountabilities to the local authorities where they reside; only those local authorities can offer us places in those schools.
We will almost always 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)(opens a new window)
- 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, we 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 cause 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 and reasonable public expenditure.
If you express a preference for an independent or non-maintained school, that school 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 EHCP.
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 (opens a new window)
The Year 2 and Year 6 Annual Review process
By the time your child has their Year 2 or Year 6 Annual Review, Achieving for Children will have issued you an amended final EHCP, naming your child’s next school.
The Annual Review meeting will follow all the same procedures as previous Annual Reviews, but it should also focus on how to support your child to move up a school. If we have named the school your child is moving up to, it is good practice for your current school to invite a representative from the school they will be attending, to help plan their move up a school.
Starting and completing the process early is in your child’s best interests
The earlier we receive your preferences, the earlier we can consult with schools, and the increased likelihood there is that we will be able to secure a place for your child in your preferred school, or let you know why this is not possible. We know that more local authorities are bringing forward this activity. We also know that our schools in Kingston & Richmond are popular with families living in neighbouring boroughs, who are competing for places in our schools. So, starting and completing this activity early helps us to secure a place for your child in one of your preferred schools.
Achieving for Children’s SEND Service writes directly to all eligible families in Spring of children’s Year 1 or Year 5, to help you understand the process for your child moving up a school with an EHCP. We request you to submit your preferences by 31 July.
Arranging for several hundred children to move up a school with an EHCP each year is complex. It is very different to the regular mainstream school admission process for children without EHCPs. Every child with an EHCP is given individual consideration, in accordance with a complex set of legal criteria. We robustly follow the statutory guidance set out in paragraphs 9.78 onwards in the SEND Code of Practice (2015) and the Children and Families Act (2014).
We aim to begin issuing amended final EHCPs starting as early as mid December, and to issue all amended final EHCPs naming a school or a type of school no later than the national statutory deadline, 15 February.
Two school preferences
We are usually able to secure a first or second preference school for most families. We appreciate that forming school preferences is a difficult decision for some families and so you are welcome to contact your child’s EHC Coordinator for a discussion, but we cannot advise you or tell you which school your child should move up to. We cannot advise you if your child should attend a mainstream school or a special school - that is very much your decision. You will have an opportunity to discuss this and other questions in your child’s Year 1 or Year 5 Annual Review.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does COVID-19 affect my child moving up a school with an EHCP?
The Covid-19 public health issue is beginning to normalise. Schools are more open than during the peak of the pandemic. You can expect most schools to agree to your request to visit them, to help you form your preferences.
We will be providing information on this website about how to arrange a visit to schools.
If parents cannot visit prospective schools, how can they find out about schools?
It is up to individual schools how they respond to requests to visit. And there are many other ways that parents can gather information about schools.
We have updated our Local Offer with a range of helpful information about schools, including some schools providing ‘virtual tours’.
Every school has committed to making their SENCO available to speak with any prospective family. Schools’ contact details are included in the range of information made available to parents in the letter and Local Offer.
How can families make informed preferences without seeing their draft amended EHCP?
There is an understanding by Kingston and Richmond SENCOs and other education professionals to discuss and give consideration to your child moving up a school in Year 1 and Year 5 Annual Reviews, including inviting families to begin thinking about this. These Annual Reviews are purposefully scheduled to take place no later than the start of the summer half-term holidays, which is before we ask you to submit your school preferences. In our experience, we know that many families already feel able to shortlist schools because of their discussions in the recent Annual Review.
If your child’s EHCP needs to be amended after your child’s Year 1 or Year 5 Annual Review, we will do that as soon as possible. But in any case, you will have discussed your child moving up a school in their Annual Review meeting, which should help you to begin forming your preferences. You may also find it helpful to reflect on the Year 1 or Year 5 Annual Review report, or speak with your child’s current SENCO, or contact your child’s EHC Coordinator in the SEND Service. We encourage you to read the helpful information about prospective schools elsewhere on the Local Offer, or contact the SENCOs at any of those prospective schools.
Do I need to complete an online form to the Admissions Service as well?
If your child already has an EHCP, and you live in Kingston or Richmond, we will write to you and provide you a link to an online form that is specifically for children moving up a school with an EHCP. You will not need to complete any other application. If your child does not yet have an EHCP - perhaps they are undergoing an EHC needs assessment - you will need to apply through general school admissions through their online application.
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 prefer a special school, we will need to be satisfied that there is evidence that this type of provision is necessary and appropriate, and 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 to the Annual Review report.
What will happen if I only state one preference?
If you only state one preference, 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 or we believe that naming it would not meet the rules in the SEND Code of Practice (2015), we will then name the nearest suitable school to your home address in your child’s EHCP. If your preferred school is not a state-funded school or one not on the SEND Regulation Section 41 list, we will give consideration to your preference, but we are not required to consult with it in the same way as for other schools.
What will happen if I do not submit my preferences?
If you do not submit any preferences, 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 EHCP.
We recognise that there will be a very small number of families whose particular circumstances mean they cannot commit to meeting the submission dates. In those circumstances, we urge you to contact your child’s EHC Coordinator in the SEND Service to talk this through.
What happens if I change my preferences after 31 July?
We will give consideration to any changed preferences we receive, including consulting with that preferred school if it is a state-funded school or one on the SEND Regulation Section 41 list and if there is still time available to issue an amended final EHCP by the national statutory deadline of 15 February. However, as more time passes it will become increasingly likely that we or other local authorities may already have agreed placements for other children with EHCPs in those schools. So it may not be possible to offer your child a place in your preferred school in accordance with the rules.
What happens if I electively home educate my child?
If you already electively home educate your child and you wish to continue doing this, or if you wish to do this in the future, you can let us know that when you submit your preference form. If we are satisfied that you can make or arrange the provision in your child’s EHCP, we will amend it to reflect your preference.
What happens if my only preferences are for independent schools, approved or not?
We will consult with preferred independent schools that are on the SEND Regulation Section 41 list, and we will give consideration to your preferences for other independent or non-maintained schools (we are not required to consult with them in the same way as for other schools). We will always consult with what we consider may be the nearest, suitable school. We have a legal duty to ensure that your preferred school can meet the special educational needs of your child and that the placement would represent reasonable 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 managed by the EHC Coordinator 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 Service by phone on 020 8547 5872 or email email@example.com
Can I find out all the schools that Achieving for Children has consulted?
Yes, you can ask the SEND Service to provide you with this information. 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.