Transferring to the next school phase for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan
A Guide for Parents and Carers
This guide explains the process for parents and carers who have a child with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and who will be going through a phased transfer at the end of the next academic year;
A phased transfer means that the child or young person is:
- Starting school for the first time
- Transferring from a lower or primary school, to a middle or secondary school
- Transfering from a middle school to an upper school
- Transfering from a secondary or upper school into post-16 education
If your child is approaching any of the school transfers listed above, we would encourage you to begin thinking about which school you would like your child to transfer onto. More information and a list of schools on Central Bedfordshire Council's website.
The admissions procedure for children and young people with an EHC Plan are set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and are slightly different to those for other children.
Schools are required to give priority to admission applications from children or parents of children and young people who have an EHC Plan.
Where a mainstream school has been identified as being appropriate to meet your child or young person’s needs, they would normally still be expected to transfer into their local mainstream school. However, if your child or young person has an EHC Plan, you are entitled to request any school for them. Your choice of school will only be refused in the following circumstances:
- The school is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs of the child or young person; or
- The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others; or
- The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the efficient use of local authority resources.
Please also be aware that your child’s entitlement to school transport may only be applicable if your child is attending the nearest suitable school that can meet their needs.
If your child is starting school for the first time, please ensure that you collect an admission pack from your preferred school and complete the appropriate admissions forms.
The process described in this document is applicable if your child is currently in any of the following school years:
- Year 3 at lower school
- Year 5 at primary school
- Year 7 at middle school
- Year 10 at an upper or secondary school
What will happen?
If your child is in Year 11
You will be invited to attend a ‘Transfer Review’ meeting during the second half of the autumn term of your child’s final year at their current school. You should receive an invite to this meeting by the end of the previous summer term. At this meeting you will be able to express your preference for your child’s next school and this will be discussed at the meeting. We would encourage you to start thinking about which school you would like your child to transfer into during the summer term before their final year at their current school, so that you can be ready for the Transfer Review meeting.
If your child is in Year 3/5/8 in a middle school, or Year 6 in a primary school
You will be invited to attend a ‘Transfer Review’ meeting during the second half of the summer term of your child’s penultumate year at their current school. This may be in additional to the annual review meeting that should take place within 12 months of the last review. You should receive an invite to this meeting by the end of the spring term. At this meeting you will be able to express your preference for your child’s next school and this will be discussed at the meeting. We would encourage you to start thinking about which school you would like your child to transfer into during the summer term before their final year at their current school, so that you can be ready for the Transfer Review meeting.
It is important to begin planning early for your child’s transfer to a new school to ensure that there is sufficient time to put in place any support that they may need at their new school.
When considering different schools, you may find it helpful to look at the relevant Ofsted reports.
You may also wish to contact school(s) to ask for information about their provision for children with additional needs. We would encourage you to attend any open days/evenings or to contact schools directly to arrange visits; so that you can see the school(s) for yourself and ask any questions that you may have. It may also be helpful to speak with the SENDCo (Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator) at any prospective schools, to talk through your child’s particular needs and find out how the school could support them. You could also send them a copy of your child’s EHC plan or their latest annual review paperwork.
Some examples of questions that you may wish to ask a school are given below:
- How will my child be supported in school?
- How will I be involved in my child’s learning?
- How is SEN support organised within the school (in class, in a small unit, in groups)?
- What equipment and materials will be available?
- Is there a breakfast club or after school activities that my child can be involved in?
- Does the school specialise in a particular subject area such as science or sport?
- How will the school keep me informed of my child’s progress?
You may also wish to read the school’s SEND Information Report and SEND Policy which will be on their website.
What happens at your child’s Transfer/Annual Review meeting?
You can make clear your preferred choice of school for your child during this meeting. If you are unsure, there will be teachers and specialists who will work with you and share ideas about the best way to meet your child’s needs going forward. You may also wish to seek the support of SENDIASS throughout the process. Your child’s EHC plan will be discussed and amended, where needed, based on the information provided at the meeting, to ensure that it is up-to-date in preparation for them transferring to a new school. Any changes to your child’s EHCP will be processed according to statutory timescales. At the Transfer Review meeting you will also be asked to complete a form with your views that states your preferred school for your child and your reasons for requesting that particular school.
What happens next?
Following the Transfer Review meeting, the SEN Team will carefully consider your school preference for your child. You will receive a Proposed Amended EHC plan reflecting discussions held at the Transfer Review meeting. Please check the Proposed Amended EHC plan carefully and contact the SEND Team within 15 days if you have any questions, comments or concerns about its contents. You will also be asked to confirm your school preference for your child if you have not already done so.
Under the SEN Code of Practice 9:79 the Local Authority (LA) must give your child a place at the school of your choice, provided that:
- The school you choose is suitable for your child’s age, ability, skills and special educational needs
- Your child’s presence will not have a negative impact on the education of the other children already at the school
- Placing your child in the school will be an efficient use of the local authority’s resources
If you request a preference for your child to attend a special school or a school with a resourced provision, the local authority will carefully consider the evidence of your child’s needs and the contents of their EHC plan, and make a decision on the most appropriate placement to meet your child’s needs. This decision will be made at the Local Authority SEND Panel. However, this Panel will only refuse your preferred school if one or more of the above three conditions are not met.
You may wish to express a preference for your child to attend a school that is not run by Central Bedfordshire Council, for example:
- A non-maintained special school (usually run by charities)
- An independent school
- A school maintained (run) by another Local Authority
However, please be aware that if there is a suitable local (state) school that can meet your child’s needs, the Local Authority has no legal duty to send your child to a non-maintained or independent school. If you request a place for your child at a school maintained by another Local Authority, there will be no entitlement to school transport for your child to this school, if there is also a suitable local school that can also meet their needs.
The Local Authority will consult with any proposed school(s), sending a copy of your child’s proposed amended EHC plan and the annual review paperwork. The school will then have 15 calendar days to reply and confirm whether they are able to meet your child’s needs. When the choice of school has been finalised, this school will then be named on your child’s EHC plan in Section I.
The Local Authority has a duty to specify the name of the school to which your child will transfer on their EHC plan by the 15th February in the final year of their current school. (For young people transferring to a post-16 setting the deadline is 31st March). If, after this time, you would like to discuss the school that has been named, please contact the SEND Team.
Once a school is named on your child’s EHC Plan their current school can start to organise a transfer plan to help support them with their transition to their new school; working very closely with you and your child.
What happens if I disagree with the school named by the local authority for my child?
If you disagree with the local authority’s decision to name a particular school on your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).
SENDIST is an independent tribunal who hear and decide parent/carer appeals against the decisions of the local authority about their child’s special educational needs, provision or school placement. Where parents/carers are unable to reach an agreement with the local authority, the tribunal will look at all of the evidence presented by both sides and make decisions about the content of the child’s EHC plan and/or their school placement.
For further information or advice, you can contact the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal Service (SENDIST) on 01325 289350.
Please note that there is a time limit of two months for submitting an appeal to SENDIST, from the receipt of your child’s Final EHC plan.
You may also decide to participate in Mediation to try and reach an agreement with the Local Authority. Your right to appeal to the Tribunal will not be affected by your involvement in any local mediation arrangements, as both processes can run at the same time.
Sharing information about your child
Parents and carers can make contact with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinator (SENCo) at their child’s new school to share important information about how to best support their child to settle within their new school environment. Information that you may wish to share could include:
- Your child’s strengths and interests
- Any strategies that have worked well with your child in the past
- How to best support them with feelings of fear or anxiety
- Details of other professionals involved with your child; for example, medical professionals or social workers
- Any other useful information you would like teachers or staff to know.
Home to school transport
Children and young people who have an EHC Plan are entitled to school transport if they meet the criteria set out in the Home to School Transport Policy and they are attending their nearest suitable school. You may wish to apply for transport as soon as your child’s EHCP has been finalised.
For young people transferring to a Post-16 setting, please see the Central Bedfordshire Transport Policy for guidance on eligibility.
Further information about all of Central Bedfordshire’s School Transport policies.
All applications for School Transport can be made online.
Please note that the deadline for school transport applications for the next academic year is 15th July 2023.
Transport assistance will be provided to nearest suitable educational establishment where the chosen programme of study is offered. For young people with an EHCP, this will be the placement named on the EHCP, as long as this is the nearest suitable placement. If parents have requested an alternative placement which is not the nearest, transport will not be provided.
Young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities will receive travel assistance in addition to that set out above where this is an assessed need regardless of the distance between the young person’s home and education placement. This will be at a subsidised rate, or may be free of charge if the young person’s family is on a low income.
As explained earlier, please be aware that if your child attends a school that is not the nearest school that can meet their needs, they will not be eligible for school transport.
Where a child or young person is eligible for school transport, this will be reviewed as part of their EHC plan annual review process, and if appropriate as part of an early Review. Please be aware that school transport provision may be changed or withdrawn if your child’s circumstances or needs change.
Further details of the Council’s transport policy.