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Choosing a school and home education

A group of school children are sitting on the floor of their classroom. The teacher is sat on her desk, asking them a question.

We can provide information and support for when you're choosing a school, making a school application, or electing for home education.

Choosing a school

Choosing a school can feel like an overwhelming responsibility for parents and carer’s particularly when your child has special educational needs or disabilities (SEND).

Gathering information, discussing your thoughts with others and feeling well informed, can help you feel better prepared to make the right decision for your child.

Most children with SEND will go to a mainstream school and are often supported by the as well as benefitting from the which we provide.

Read more about (City of York Council).

Making a school place application

If you're applying for your child to start primary or secondary school for the first time, and your child has SEND but does not have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) you can find all the information you need to consider, including national deadlines, at the online application portal and information for York schools on the City of York Council website.

Academies and free schools must have regard to the School Admissions Code and the SEND Code of Practice.

See further information about (IPSEA).

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School applications and EHC needs assessments

If you're going through the EHC needs assessment process then you should still follow the usual council’s process alongside this, in case a plan is not agreed.

If a draft EHC Plan has been agreed by the Local Authority you can request a school or setting as part of the EHC Plan process and the local authority will name a school in section I of a finalised EHC Plan.

See further information about (IPSEA).

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Moving schools during the school year

There are circumstances where you may want to move your child to a new school during the school year, this is known as an in-year application.

See further information about (City of York Council).

City of York Council co-ordinates the offer of school places to all community and voluntary controlled schools. However, for in-year applications for voluntary aided, foundation, free schools and academies you'll need to apply to schools directly.

You can apply for an in-year school place even if you think that the year group you wish to apply for is full. You'll have the right of appeal should your application be unsuccessful.

If your child has been having special educational support in nursery, school or college, but doesn’t have an EHC plan, any new school or college should be able to continue the support.

We always advise parents to visit a school before applying and arrange to meet the school SENCO to discuss your child’s needs and their provision. If your child has significant SEN needs and does not have an EHC Plan we would advise speaking with SEN Services at City of York Council as well as School Services.

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Moving from primary to secondary school with an EHC Plan

You may require extra support if your child has an EHC Plan and will be moving from primary school to secondary school.

If you contact us we can provide you with information and advice about the transfer from primary school to secondary school.

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Moving to and from York with an EHC Plan

If you're moving to another local authority within England, your son or daughter’s EHC Plan must be transferred from the old local authority to the new local authority.

You should tell your old local authority that you are moving at least 15 working days before you move, so that the transfer happens on the day of your move.

The new local authority must meet the requirements of the EHC Plan as soon as the Plan has been transferred.

See further information about (IPSEA).

Education, Health and Care plans cannot be maintained if you move outside of England.

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Choosing a school or college to be named in an EHC Plan

Most children with EHC Plans will go to a mainstream school or college and are often supported by the Local Offer.

See details of on the YorOK website.

See further useful information and advice on (IPSEA).

There are limited number of reasons that a school can use to refuse a place to a pupil.

The local authority must comply with your preference and name the school or college in the EHC Plan unless:

  • it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person
  • the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others
  • it would be an inefficient use of resources.

Whether you're choosing a school for the first time, or wanting to move schools you should contact SEN Services at the City of York Council to let them know so they can consult with your preferred school. Usually this would be done or as part of the process or at your child’s . You can contact them on email:

If you're concerned about the provision or school named in a plan you can request the review be brought forward.

See further information about asking for an early review of an EHC Plan (IPSEA).

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Choosing a special school or college

If you're considering a special school or college, we would advise you to also research other schools in York at the same time so you can compare.

To be offered a place at a specialist school or college, a child or young person must have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan). This is because they fall outside the usual admissions process. If you think that your child will require a special school and does not have an EHC Plan, then you'll need to consider requesting an EHC Needs Assessment.

We recommend that you visit potential schools and colleges before asking the local authority to consult with the educational setting you would like named in your child’s EHC Plan. When you visit, ask to meet with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and have a look around. It'll help if you prepare a list of questions to ask.

If you're already going through the EHC needs assessment process then you should still follow the usual admissions process alongside this, in case a plan is not agreed.

If a draft EHC Plan has been agreed by the local authority you can request a school or setting as part of the EHC Plan process. The local authority will then name a school in section I of the finalised EHC Plan.

We can advise you on the process and it may help to look at the specialist placement options. See details on choosing the right school for your child (YorOK).

See further information about planning the move to a new school for children with SEND (IPSEA).

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Disagreements and appeals

You can appeal if you think your application was not treated correctly or in accordance with admission laws.

An appeal is your opportunity to fully explain your reasons for wanting a school place and raising concerns about the impact of the decision not to offer a place.

If you disagree with a decision made by the local authority relating to your child's special educational needs, you can appeal to an independent body called the First Tier Tribunal for Special Educational Needs and Disability.

See further information about school place appeals (City of York Council).

See further information on your rights and how we can support you with appeals and mediation.

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Choosing to home educate

A parent or carer can choose to educate their child at home, instead of the child attending school full-time, this is known as Elective Home Education or EHE.

Deciding to educate your child at home can be a rewarding choice for many parents, but it does require a lot of dedication, hard work and patience.

The Code of Practice acknowledges this by stating:

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

Under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents have the right to educate children, including children with SEN, at home. Home education must be suitable to the child’s age, ability, aptitude and SEN. Local authorities should work in partnership with, and support parents to ensure that the SEN of these children are met.

Schools must not try to persuade parents to educate their child at home by way of avoiding exclusion, due to poor attendance, or because your child is having difficulty with learning or behaviour. Take your time to find out as much as you can so you can make an informed choice.

If a child or young person is in a situation where their school or college placement is in danger of breaking down, or is unsuitable you may want to consider requesting an EHC Needs Assessment.

This is an opportunity to fully identify all of the child or young person’s needs and work out what educational support they may need. It may be that with the right support the child or young person can continue in their educational placement. Alternatively they may require educational provision which could be provided other than at school.

You should write to the school your child currently attends. If your child attends mainstream school they will be removed from the school roll and school must inform the local authority, who will contact you.

If your child has not yet started school you do not have to tell anyone, but the local authority ask that you let them know.

If your child is currently attending a special school, you will need to get permission from the local authority before they can be removed from the school roll.

The Department for Education’s all you need to know about home-schooling and elective home education briefing summarises key information to be aware of if you are considering home-schooling.

See further information about home-schooling and ‘education otherwise’ (IPSEA).

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Home education and EHC Plans

If the current educational placement is not working, it may be better to amend the EHC Plan to set out different special educational provision or name a different school, rather than attempting to take on home education without support.

If your child is currently attending a special school, you'll need to get permission from the local authority before they can be removed from the school roll.

Choosing to electively home educate means that the local authority no longer has a legal duty to secure any special educational provision specified in the child’s EHC Plan, because the parents are deemed to be making their own suitable alternative arrangements.

Where there is an EHC Plan the local authority retain responsibility for maintaining the plan, for example carrying out annual reviews. As you'll be assuming responsibility to educate, you must carefully consider how you can provide what your child needs.

The commissioning body is still responsible for any health care provision detailed on an EHC Plan, though you can make your own alternative arrangements for health care provision too.

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Education otherwise than at school

It's not essential for a child to be educated within a school setting. For some children or young people, school or college may not be suitable, and they need to be educated at home or elsewhere - this is referred to as education otherwise than at school, or EOTAS.

Education Other Than at School includes all forms of education which takes place outside the formal school environment.

If school or college is not appropriate from the child or young person, the local authority can arrange for any specialist provision which the child or young person requires to be delivered somewhere other than in a school, college or early years setting.

EOTAS is education provision that meets the specific needs of the children and young people who, for whatever reason, cannot attend a mainstream or specialist school, for example:

  • the child or young person may have had exclusion
  • they may have mental health issues that affect their ability to attend school
  • the school settings they have attended have not been able to meet their specific needs

Inappropriate educational settings

The local authority would have to take into account all the circumstances which might lead to an educational setting being determined to be 'inappropriate'.

This matter was considered in the legal case of TM v London Borough of Hounslow, which confirmed that the local authority must determine whether a school or setting would ‘not be suitable’ or ‘not be proper’.

Circumstances to be considered may include consideration of the following matters:

  • the child’s background and medical history
  • the particular educational needs of the child,
  • the facilities that can be provided by the school
  • the facilities that could be provided other than in a school
  • the comparative cost of the possible alternatives to the child’s educational provisions
  • the child’s reaction to education provisions, either at a school or elsewhere
  • the parent’s wishes

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, as considerations must depend on the facts of each case.

For a child or young person with an EHC Plan where education otherwise than at school is the chosen preference, the EHC Plan should specify ‘education otherwise than at school’, as this means the local authority must ensure the special educational provision is delivered (this is permitted under section 61 of the Children and Families Act 2014).

It's also worth remembering that anything which educates or trains a child or young person is to be treated as special educational provision.

When the local authority is considering whether EOTAS is relevant in an EHC Plan they must make a decision that it is necessary to make a special educational provision that is:

  • not in a school
  • not in a post-16 institution (such as school or college)
  • not in an early years setting

They will do this if they are satisfied that a school, post-16 institution, or an early years setting would be inappropriate for the child or young person.

The local authority must consult with the parent or young person when deciding whether EOTAS is relevant in an EHC Plan.

See further information about home-schooling and ‘education otherwise’ (IPSEA).

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Transport to school

You should think about how your child might travel to and from school, and whether you would be eligible for any help with home to school transport.

We can help with information and advice about transport to school.

See further information about help with transport to school or college (City of York Council).

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