Can my child attend a school outside my local area?
I would like my daughter to attend in a different borough to where we live. We have just completed the EHCP and have named a school. She is profoundly deaf, and although our borough has provision for deaf children, it would be near impossible for me to drop and pick my other children to both schools. Can I be forced to choose a school in my borough?
Parents or young people have a legal right to request that a particular school or college is named in an education, health and care (“EHC”) plan (or to express a preference for an independent school, college or other institution).
The parent or young person has a right to request any of the following types of school or college:
- A maintained school or nursery (mainstream or special)
- An Academy (mainstream or special)
- An institution in the Further Education sector
- A non-maintained special school
- A section 41 school.
These are listed in section 38(3) of the Children and Families Act (“CAFA”) 2014.
If the school that you have asked to be named is one of these types of schools the only reason the local authority can refuse the request is if:
- The setting is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs (“SEN”) of your child; or
- The attendance of your child would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others; or
- The attendance of your child would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources.
This is set out in section 39(4) CAFA 2014. The LA must prove that at least one of these conditions applies in order to dislodge your preference. If you are not sure what type of school you’re asking for, check on the government website Get information about schools - GOV.UK
LAs are required to arrange free, suitable, home to school transport for children of compulsory school age who are ‘eligible’, to their nearest suitable qualifying school (section 508B of the Education Act (“EA”) 1996). Your LA may argue that because you have chosen a school in another borough, they are not required to provide transport. However, the LA will have to establish that the school they wish to name is in fact suitable and they will also have to show that your preferred school would be an inefficient use of the LA’s resources. Find out more about the LA’s duty to provide transport to children with special educational needs here.