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Mainstream Academy no longer accepting children with SEN from outside of catchment area

(26 Posts)
itiswhatitiswhatitis Thu 18-Dec-14 21:27:57

Is this standard admissions policy for most mainstream academies these days? Can it be challenged? It doesn't affect me directly but it feels like a slippery slope and if I'm honest I feel a bit disappointed that a school I have always held in such high regard is choosing to take this stance.

There is an opportunity to attend a consultation to discuss proposed changes to admissions criteria in January and I would like to go but am hoping someone can help me articulate my feelings on this so I can put forward my objections. I guess my underlying feeling is that this stance suggests children like my ds aren't wanted and are a drain on resources despite the fact that the support he has received so far has been fantastic.

Dipankrispaneven Thu 18-Dec-14 23:17:50

If they're prepared to accept non-SEN children from outside that area, it's very clearly disability discrimination.

Is this any children with SEN, or just children with statements/EHCPs? Because if the parent wants the child to go there surely the local authority can't accept "we're not taking out of area SEN children" as a reason for not naming the academy in a statement?

lambsie Fri 19-Dec-14 07:23:26

The sen code of practice applies to Academies so they cannot do this.

itiswhatitiswhatitis Fri 19-Dec-14 13:16:28

From what I can tell they will accept children if the school is named on the child's statement.

I really dislike the way they have worded the whole thing though. Under their reasoning they have stated that accepting children outside of the area has led to them having to use additional resources. The whole tone suggests that these children are a drain on our resources and therefore it's in your child's best interests that we don't accept them. <sigh>

Dipankrispaneven Fri 19-Dec-14 20:57:14

Idiots. This epitomises what is wrong with the academies programme. I must admit in your place I'd hesitate to send my child somewhere where they so plainly don't want him, but I'd also be tempted to send a formal complaint to the Department for Education and report them to Ofsted.

manishkmehta Fri 19-Dec-14 21:31:54

hackneycitizen.co.uk/2012/08/21/mossbourne-academy-loses-challenge-special-needs/

www.ipsea.org.uk/news/2012/parents-win-despite-academys-refusal-to-admit-their-statemented-children

manishkmehta Fri 19-Dec-14 21:32:26

www.theguardian.com/education/2012/aug/20/academy-loses-challenge-special-needs

tethersend Fri 19-Dec-14 21:36:58

What is the exact wording of the proposed admissions criteria?

itiswhatitiswhatitis Sat 20-Dec-14 11:10:20

What would I be reporting them for Ofsted for though? Is it something that ofsted frowns on?

Dipankrispaneven Sat 20-Dec-14 12:37:56

Well yes, Ofsted certainly frowns on disability discrimination and breaking the law.

itiswhatitiswhatitis Sat 20-Dec-14 16:20:00

Ok couldn't tell if they were actually breaking the law as they are still accepting children with SEN within catchment and those with school named on statement.

tethersend Sat 20-Dec-14 17:53:13

If they accept all children with a statement which names the school (as the law states they must), then I'm not sure how they are being discriminatory?

Children without a statement/EHCP who have SEN are subject to the same admissions criteria as all other children, which may prioritise in catchment children over out of catchment children. The only exception to this would be if the admission authority has a medical/social criterion (they are not obliged to) which may cover some SEN.

Apologies if I've misunderstood, but I'm not clear about what the school is proposing.

itiswhatitiswhatitis Sat 20-Dec-14 19:02:05

No tethersend I'm not entirely sure I understand either! I think I'm going to bite the bullet and just the head out right what this proposal actually means! (And hopefully get a real anwset and not loads of flannel!)

tethersend Sat 20-Dec-14 19:23:38

Have you got a link to the school/the proposed criteria? Feel free to PM me if you don't want to say on the thread.

Also worth asking a poster called prh47bridge, whose knowledge of admissions law is excellent.

lambsie Sun 21-Dec-14 06:36:05

If they are saying they will not accept a child with sen but without a statement who is out of catchment but they would accept an out of catchment child who does not have sen, then there is discrimination. I know someone who was told that their child could only have a place in a particular mainstream school if the child had a statement so came with funding. I wonder if they mean something like that.

Tron123 Sun 21-Dec-14 22:35:57

If they will accept children who have no statement but not those who have a statement then that this wrong. If on the other hand there is no automatic acceptance of statemented children from outside the area then that is fair

Dipankrispaneven Sun 21-Dec-14 23:05:36

Tron, the law doesn't work like that. If the statement names the school, they don't have a choice as to whether to accept or not. If they are saying they will resist the school being named in the statement purely because the child is outside their area that is unlawful, and I would hope that the councils concerned would ignore them anyway. They should treat statemented children the same way irrespective of where they live.; the only point which would justify them resisting it is if the child lived so far away that the journey itself became a serious issue.

Tron123 Mon 22-Dec-14 04:41:59

I am aware how the law currently applies to lea schools in my area ie looked after children and those with additional needs and a statement are the highste priority when choosing schools. I do no know if that is universal. However the notion that this in the op case is to be anyone outside the catchment area is not automatically accepted if sen seems fair to me if that is the same as other children, surely this just means that all children outside catchment are treated on a different admission criteria ie distance from school etc. I do not see a problem with this as it is not discrimatory to sen. If the school says outside catchment it never accepts sen even when places then that is not fair as if 10 places then they should be judged or allocated as per policy which should not discinate on sen grounds ie distance from school or primary if that was a factor as in church schools

Dipankrispaneven Mon 22-Dec-14 14:54:46

Schools don't actually have catchment areas as such and it is unlawful for any school's admission policy to discriminate against, say, children in a different borough. However they do regularly have lawful admissions criteria that say they will prioritise by distance, i.e a straightforward measurement from the school address. It is of course perfectly lawful for them to treat all children who have SEN but not statements/EHC Plans in the same way as any other child seeking admission.

However, statementing is a different process, and mainstream schools can only refuse to accept a child with a statement if admitting that child will prejudice the efficient education of other children and there are no reasonable adjustments they can take to counter that.

tethersend Mon 22-Dec-14 19:17:05

Dipankrispaneven, many LAs have defined catchment areas, and it is not unlawful for them to prioritise (non statemented) in catchment children over out of catchment children.

Tron123 Mon 22-Dec-14 19:38:26

My opinion is that once outside a catchment all applications should be treated the same, generally this down to distance from the school regardless whether a child has a statement or not.

Tambabaubles Mon 22-Dec-14 20:36:34

standard admissions criteria doesn't apply for children with statements/ EHCP
"The arrangements for admitting a child with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHCP are different to those for children who do not have a Statement or a plan.
The Children and Families Act 2014 says that we must consult with the Headteacher and Governing Body of the school before we can name a particular school in a Statement. The process is co-ordinated by the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Team.

The Local Authority must name your nominated school in the statement or EHCP provided that:
the school is suitable for the child’s age, ability and aptitude and the Special Educational Needs set out in part 2 of the statement or the EHCP;
the child’s attendance is not incompatible with the efficient education of other children in the school, and
the placement is an efficient use of the LA’s resources

If your child’s Special Educational Needs are supported at Additional Support level within the school, your preferences for their school place will be treated in the same way as all other applications."

Dipankrispaneven Mon 22-Dec-14 23:30:44

Tether send, you're mistaken. Have a look at the Greenwich judgment. And Tamba is right that the system is different with statements.

lambsie Tue 23-Dec-14 06:29:55

If they refuse admission to a child who has sen when they would have had admitted the child if they did not have sen (with the exceptions for statemented children already mentioned) they are breaking the law. Generally sen would not need to be mentioned at all on a schools admission policy since statemented children are treated separately.

tethersend Tue 23-Dec-14 08:20:21

I'm not mistaken, Dipankrispaneven- many LAs have defined catchment areas, I live in one of them. They are not in contravention of the Greenwich judgement- Have a look at the Rotherham judgement.

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