It's possible to have a specific school named in an Education, Health and Care Plan. This means that the local authority must fund your child's place at that school. EHCPs are also known as EHC plans.
This can be a school outside of your local authority, if you can show that it's the only one that can meet the needs in your child's EHCP.
Warning How far away is the new school?
Government guidance on maximum travel times is:
45 minutes for primary school children
75 minutes for secondary school children
Your local authority will only let your child travel further under exceptional circumstances. For example, if your child has very specific needs and these are in their EHCP.
The local authority might consider residential education instead.
Talking to your child's current school
Speak to your child's teacher or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) about the support your child gets at their current school. Someone from your local authority's information and advice service can go with you. This is usually called a SENDIASS.
Your local authority will look for schools that can meet your child's needs inside its area. You will need to show that the school outside of the local authority can meet the needs in your child's EHCP.
If the new school is not in your local authority, you will need to prove that no other school in the local authority could provide the support in your child's EHCP.
The local authority may make an exception if:
you live near the border of another local authority and
the new school is nearer than other schools in your local authority area
You can ask for a school to be named in an EHCP when you get a draft EHCP or a notice of amendment as part of a review.
You can ask for an early review. You do not need to wait for your annual EHCP review. You can ask someone to go with you to your review meeting. This includes someone from your SENDIASS.
After the review meeting, you will need to show why:
the current school is not meeting your child's needs
the new school is the only place that can provide the support your child needs
Written evidence will make your case stronger.
Schools and local authorities will have their own procedures and names for things. Check:
You can ask for a specific school when you get either:
a new draft EHCP
a new amendment for your child's EHCP, also called a 'notice of amendment'
SEND Tribunal appeals
If the new school is not in the final plan, you can appeal. This is also known as the First-tier Tribunal or SENDIST.
Starting a SEND Tribunal appeal
To start a formal legal appeal, you'll need to speak to the local authority's approved SEND mediation service. You can find the contact details on the letter sent with the final EHCP. This will tell you about your right to appeal.
You can take someone to support you in the mediation meeting. If mediation does not work, you can then appeal to the Tribunal. This is a legal process.
Every local authority has an information and advice service. They should be able to help you build a case. They are usually called a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS).
If you pay for a solicitor or other legal help, your local SENDIASS would hand your case over to them. Whoever helps you prepare your case, you would usually represent yourself at the tribunal hearing.
The local authority may argue that a different, nearer school can meet your child's needs. You would need to show that your preferred school is the only place that could provide the support in your child's EHCP. You would need to show how your child's needs relate to all or some of these 4 areas:
Share any information that will help the new school to understand your child. This includes their EHCP and any other reports that you think might help.
Start talking about how accessible the school is and the kinds of adjustments that the school might be able to make. For example, having all classes on the ground floor if your child cannot access classrooms on other floors.
You could also arrange for staff to meet you and your child and talk about what they need.
which staff will be supporting your child
how you can help staff to understand your child and help them feel welcome
induction or settling in days and how your child gets on at these
if the school has a buddy scheme
If your child still does not get the support in their EHCP
You may need to meet your child's teacher and other members of staff. An early EHCP review may also help. You will need to ask for an early review.