Admission to mainstream schools

Guidance on how to apply to a public mainstream school for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

The Consideration and Admissions Process

The West Sussex County Council (WSCC) Special Educational Needs Assessment Team (SENAT) are responsible for agreeing placements for children and young people for whom they maintain an EHCP.

Parent carers or a child or young person can make a request for a particular nursery, school or post-16 institution. The County Council must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHCP unless:

  • it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) 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.

Principles underlying placement decisions

The principles and processes associated with deciding on suitable placements for children and young people with EHCPs are set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the associated SEND Code of Practice.

Section 33 of Children and Families Act 2014 is important, as quoted here:

‘If a parent of a child, or young person, wants that child or young person to attend a mainstream setting, the LA can only refuse if a mainstream placement would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, and there are no reasonable steps the LA could take to avoid this’

Children and young people with SEND will have a range of needs and all schools must make reasonable adjustments to all the needs of the child or young person in line with the Equality Act 2010.

The Consultation

Where a parent carer or young person makes a preference for a West Sussex maintained mainstream school or academy, the SENAT will always consult with that setting. Alongside this consultation, SENAT will also consider the suitability of the preferred setting and, as a result, they may consult with other settings they consider may also be appropriate.

SENAT will send the draft or final EHCP and associated documents to the governing body, principal or proprietor of the school or college. If the school or setting is in another local authority area, that local authority must be consulted too.

The school or setting has 15 days to respond and their views will be considered carefully before deciding whether to name them in the child or young person’s EHCP. The setting must consider the child or young person’s needs and required provision in their response to the consultation. This may include schools considering whether they can meet the child or young person’s needs and make suitable provision as described in the EHCP. This should include considering what reasonable adjustments could be made to meet their needs.

They must take into account the SEND Code of Practice when providing their response.

SENAT will consider all responses received and make the final decision on placement. As this process differs depending on the current situation for the child or young person SENAT will keep individual families informed regarding progress.

Other things to consider

All West Sussex mainstream schools have access to the same resources, support and guidance to assist them in meeting the needs of learners with SEND in their school.

If the mainstream school a parent chooses is not their nearest mainstream school, the Local Authority may not have to assist with transport even if the school is over the statutory walking distance.

This is because it is possible that there is a nearer school with the same available resources and access to support that could meet the child or young person’s needs.

SEND transport is only available where a child attends their nearest suitable school.

The SENAT will need to consider whether there is a nearer mainstream school that could meet the child or young person’s needs if a mainstream school which is some distance from their home is chosen. The team will keep the parent informed regarding this consideration and process.

There is a search tool available to find mainstream schools in West Sussex.