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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.

Applying for school

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 Education pages on your home borough Local Authority website.

Kingston (opens a new window)

Richmond (opens a new window)

If your child has an EHCP 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.


Why is it important to “express a preference” for a school for a pupil with an EHC Plan?

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 son or daughter’s 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 (opens a new window)

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.

Applying for schools whilst your child is being assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan

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.

Admissions Post 16 if you have an Education, Health and Care Plan 

The ordinary admissions policy does not apply if a young person has an EHCP.  The process for agreeing a school/college placement is set out from section 9.78 of the SEND Code of Practice and Sections 33 and 40 of the Childrens and Families Act 2014.