Frequently asked questions (choosing a school)

1. Which schools are good at supporting children with SEND?  

We can’t recommend schools to you as everyone’s experience is unique and opinions will therefore differ. We would advise you to keep an open mind about the opinions of others and visit schools to form your own views, before making any decisions.

By doing some research, asking questions and getting a feel for the school, you will find you get an instinct for where you would like your child to go.

2. What happens if I want to make an ‘in-year’ application to a school?  

What is an ‘in-year’ application?

An in-year admission is when you apply to a school outside the normal admissions round, and at a time when your child should already be attending school.

The Enfield admissions webpages explain the process of applying for an ‘in-year’ school place and what happens next.

See link to Enfield Admissions website:

Applications to foundation, voluntary aided, free schools and academies are sent directly to the schools.

The school will check to see if there is a place available in the year group you have applied for; if there is, you will normally be offered a place and the school will write to you with the outcome of your application.

If your application is unsuccessful, the letter must inform you of your legal right to appeal.  Some schools hold waiting lists throughout the year for all year groups and this information is available from the schools directly.  The school will let the Admissions Team at Enfield Council know the outcome of your application. You can contact them directly to discuss alternative schools at any time.

3. I’m going through the EHC assessment process for my child, where do I start finding a school?

You should apply for a mainstream school place, as part of the usual admissions process. This will ensure you secure a school place for your child, regardless of the outcome of the EHC process.

The Local Offer contains information regarding schools; every child has the right to a mainstream education, so this would usually be the starting point.

Link to Enfield school admissions:

By researching and visiting schools, meeting staff and asking questions, we usually find parents feel better placed to make a decision. We understand that this can sometimes feel like an overwhelming responsibility for parents, particularly where a child has additional needs. It can be helpful to discuss your concerns with us.

If the Local Authority decides to issue an EHCP, you will be asked to name your preferred school at the draft stage and the SEN department at the local authority must consult with your preferred school.

See also ‘Choice of school with an EHC plan’:

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4. I approached several local schools, but they said they could not meet my child’s needs

Schools (including academies and free schools) must have regard to the Admissions Code (see links below), the Equality Act 2010 and the 2015 SEND Code of Practice (COP); chapter 6 of the COP outlines school responsibilities and chapter 1 explains the basic principles, which focus on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning

If a school says they are concerned about their ability to meet your child’s needs, get as much information as possible as to why. You may find that you can explore with the school other means of supporting your child.  If they cannot offer a strategy a previous school provided, what could they offer instead which might have a similar impact?

Children and young people should be educated in mainstream* education in accordance with sections 33 & 34 of the 2014 Children and Families Act.

A *mainstream school is defined in section 83 of the Act as follows:

‘ “mainstream school” means—

 (a) a maintained school that is not a special school, or

(b) an Academy school that is not a special school;’’

It is against the law to discriminate on the grounds of disability (& other characteristics) – Section 6 (85) of the Equality Act 2010.

An admission authority must not discriminate against any person on the grounds of disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation, when they are making decisions as to who is offered admission as a pupil. (School Admissions Code).

5. The school I approached said there is not enough funding to provide the support they need?

All mainstream schools receive money to provide SEN Support and can apply for additional funds for any child requiring a higher level of support, where this can be evidenced. 

Schools must not discriminate, and are responsible for meeting the needs of every child in their school, sometimes this will mean making ‘reasonable adjustments’ or purchasing resources/planning individual support.

If your child has an EHC plan, the special education provision (outlined in section F of the plan) must be provided.

6. My child is not ready to start reception. Can I defer to a later date?

Children usually attend school full-time in the Reception Year, in the September following their fourth birthday.

All primary schools must offer children a full-time place at the start of the Autumn term in September. However, legally, a child does not have to start full-time education until the term after their fifth birthday.

Whatever you decide, it is important that you apply for an infant or primary place by the closing date. Section 2.16 of the School Admissions Code (PDF) outlines the duty.

Link  to School Admissions Code

Link to Enfield Council Admissions – applying for a primary school place:

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7. My child is not ready for the next year group. Can he/she repeat a year?

Teachers are trained to differentiate in the classroom to meet the needs of all children. In all classrooms, there is a range of abilities and support is provided to meet the needs of each child. If you think that your child would benefit from repeating a year, you can discuss this with the school and the School Admissions Service at Enfield Council.

If your child has an EHCP, you can speak to your Advisory Officer at SEN Services. The local authority must make decisions based on the best interests of your child.

School Admissions Code 2.17 A:

“Admission authorities must make decisions on the basis of the circumstances of each case and in the best interests of the child concerned. This will include taking account of the parent’s views; information about the child’s academic, social and emotional development where relevant, their medical history and the views of a medical professional; whether they have previously been educated out of their normal age group; and whether they may naturally have fallen into a lower age group, if it were not for being born prematurely. They must also take into account the views of the head teacher of the school concerned. When informing a parent of their decision on the year group the child should be admitted to, the admission authority must set out clearly the reasons for their decision.”

8. School declined a place (in-year), even though I know there are spaces. Can they do this?

A school may refuse a place if they currently have a high proportion of children with challenging behaviour:

School Admissions Code 3.12:

“Where a governing body does not wish to admit a child with challenging behaviour outside the normal admissions round, even though places are available, it must refer the case to the local authority for action under the Fair Access Protocol. This will normally only be appropriate where a school has a particularly high proportion of children with challenging behaviour or previously excluded children. The use of this provision will depend on local circumstances and must be described in the local authority’s Fair Access Protocol. This provision will not apply to a looked after child, a previously looked after child or a child with an Education, Health and Care Plan naming the school in question. These children must be admitted.”

A parent who is unhappy about being refused a school place for their child, may consider lodging an appeal. If your child has SEN and/or a disability we can provide support with this. If you feel your disabled child has been discriminated against, you can consider a disability discrimination claim. Contact us for further advice about either of these options.

9. Current school says a special school would be more appropriate. What do I do next?

Children without an EHC plan must be educated in a mainstream school, unless there are exceptional circumstances. (Code of Practice 1.27)

If your child has an EHC plan, the Annual Review is the ideal time to discuss provision (what’s in place currently, and what might need to change) and suitability of school. You can request an emergency review. if your child’s needs have changed or where there are concerns. Following this meeting, your views will be shared with the Local Authority.

Consider whether new advice might be needed from an Educational Psychologist or other specialist and discuss this as part of the annual review. It could be that new advice includes recommendations that the current school could implement; equally,  this advice may indicate that a specialist setting would be more appropriate.

You can research all schools in Enfield in the Enfield admissions pages, to find out which school, or schools, may be appropriate for your child’s needs.

We would encourage you to contact special schools directly to discuss your child’s individual needs and if possible, arrange a visit before you make any decisions.

See response to question 10 which explains the process.

10. I would like to apply for a Special school. What is the process?

You may request a special school for your child as part of the EHC plan process; you can do this when you receive your initial draft EHC plan or you can do this following discussions at the Annual Review of your child’s EHCP.

The local authority must consult with your chosen school, provided they are a type of school listed within section 38 of the Children & Families Act 2014.

Read more about the legal process of requesting a school to be named in an EHC plan, including the only lawful reasons a local authority can reject your choice.

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As this is part of a legal process, you will have the opportunity to access mediation and/or to appeal against the decision, if you disagree with the local authority about the school named in the plan

11. Can the LA refuse my preferred school choice to be named in the EHC plan?

 The local authority may only reject your request to name your chosen school where:

1. the school or other institution is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs of the child or young person

or

2.  the attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others;

These are the only lawful reasons a local authority can reject a parental request for a place at a school (within the prescribed list of types of school outlined in section 38 (3) of the C&F Act 2014).

A school being ‘full’ is not a lawful reason to refuse.

If, after consulting with the school, the local authority decide to reject your request and name another school or type of school, you will have the option of mediation and/or appealing to the tribunal within two months of receiving the final or amended EHC plan.

If you request an independent (fee-paying) school, it is likely you will need to appeal, as there is no automatic duty for the LA to consult, unless the school is on the section 41 approved list of schools.