Most children with SEND will go to a mainstream school and are often supported by the Local Offer.
If you are considering a special school for your child, we advise you to also research local mainstream schools at the same time so you can compare what they can offer which will help you make your mind up. We understand this can feel overwhelming for parents. The more information you gather, the easier it will be to make your decision.
Find out about schools in Suffolk
Applying for a mainstream school in the normal year of entry (reception, primary or secondary places for September)
With an EHC plan, if you intend to apply for a mainstream school, the local authority ask if you can also follow the normal application process, as it helps them to plan allocation of places. You can read about the process at www.suffolk.gov.uk/admissions.
The application form for a school place asks you whether your child has an EHC plan. This information is then shared by admissions with the local authority Family Services Team who manage EHC plans.
Please see the information below about the legal process of requesting a setting to be named in an EHC plan.
Requesting a Special school
You can request a special school when you receive the draft EHC plan, in the same way as you would request a mainstream setting.
If your child already has an EHC plan, Annual Review provides the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns about needs and provision, including whether the current setting remains appropriate.
See below for the process of requesting a school to be named in an EHC plan.
Legal process for requesting a school (or setting) to be named in an EHC plan
When you receive a draft (new or amended) EHC plan you will be asked which school you would like your child to go to. The law says that when an EHC plan is first issued or when the local authority writes to you with proposed amendments (at annual or early review), you have at least 15 days in which to respond to the draft and request a particular school to be named in the plan. This includes requesting a special school (maintained, academy or free).
The local authority have a range of Units attached to mainstream schools, some have a particular specialism.
If a Unit is listed as a separate institution on the Department for Education’s register, it can be named in section I.
If not, you can ask for the mainstream school (to which the Unit is attached to) to be named in section I of the plan, and for the provision at the specialist unit to be clearly described in section f. The local authority may be happy to specify the unit in section F as well.
Requesting a particular school/setting:
The SEND Code of Practice says:
“The child’s parent or the young person has the right to request a particular school, college or other institution of the following type to be named in their EHC plan:
- maintained nursery school
- maintained school and any form of academy or free school (mainstream or special)
- non-maintained special school
- further education or sixth form college
- independent school or independent specialist colleges (where they have been approved* for this purpose by the Secretary of State and published in a list available to all parents and young people)” (9.78)
Read more in dropdown below ‘Requesting a school and what happens next’
Reasons the local authority can reject your request:
The SEND Code of Practice says:
“If a child’s parent or a young person makes a request for a particular nursery, school or post-16 institution in these groups the local authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless:
- the school or other institution is unsuitable for the age, ability aptitude or special education needs of the child or young person.
- The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others
- The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources” (9.79)
Annual Review (of an EHC plan)
Find and compare schools in England – Department for Education
Starting school with SEND– Parent video from BBC Bitesize
Read script of recording (opens PDF)