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is 'no space' a legally acceptable because to not offer the requested school place?

(27 Posts)
rainbowbash Sat 12-Jan-19 16:26:37

Dd (severe learning difficulties + ASD) is currently in a MS primary but due to start 2ndary in September. We haven't had official confirmation for the placement through her EHCP yet but the LA have indicated that we may not get out choice as there aren't enough places. We requested the local SS (the only special secondary within our LEA). So DD will either have to attend a MS school with support or attend an indy school miles away. Both are out of question for us for various reasons . The local SS is the right place and we have requested it to be named in her EHCP. I understand the LA should give us this parental choice.

However, if there is genuinely no place, do I have legal leverage to enforce DD being admitted to this school?

Claw001 Sun 13-Jan-19 11:30:44

“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 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 resources.”

From here

rainbowbash Sun 13-Jan-19 11:38:52

thank you Claw

I do wonder if
The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others would apply if there aren't sufficient places? Surely if the school is over capacity, efficient education could not be provided? or am I overthinking it?

Claw001 Sun 13-Jan-19 12:14:27

IF that’s the reason, the LA must prove it. ‘No spaces’ is not grounds for refusing your request.

rainbowbash Sun 13-Jan-19 12:38:49

thank you!

Palaver1 Sun 13-Jan-19 17:20:28

But if there is no space and the school roll is full there is grounds to say there is no space in which case you want to be asking for the name to be put on the waiting list
If you come across demanding and unreasonable you might find it harder to get into the school

SaturdayNext Sun 13-Jan-19 18:03:43

"No space" can be a relative concept. Sometimes the issue has more to do with staffing and problems can be overcome by extra funding for one to one support. It's worth challenging this via an appeal.

rainbowbash Sun 13-Jan-19 18:40:30

If you come across demanding and unreasonable you might find it harder to get into the school

I am not sure what would be unreasonable about requesting a place (and demanding that the LA respect our choice) at the only LA SS for those with severe LD.

Noeuf Sun 13-Jan-19 18:50:06

They will have to explain how 'no space' fits one of the three criteria. Your first response is to ask for the school formally (via review: has this happened? Or is it a new EHCP?) when the LA respond (it's their decision to name a school; school respond to say they can or can't meet needs) ask them on which reason they are basing their decision.

rainbowbash Sun 13-Jan-19 19:36:22

thAnks noeuf. I had requested local SS last autumn at our annual review (DD has been statemented/on Ehcp since nursery).
LA haven't said 'no yet' so I have still a glimmer of hope but if we don't get a place,at least I have an initial action plan now smile

Noeuf Sun 13-Jan-19 20:27:33


So, do you have a copy of the code of practice jan 2015? That sets out timelines and with a request to amend the EHCP the la should respond within a certain deadline.

That then gives you a right of appeal 'refusal to amend' and you can set out your reasons.

Claw001 Sun 13-Jan-19 21:05:22

But if there is no space and the school roll is full there is grounds to say there is no space in which case you want to be asking for the name to be put on the waiting list

This is not correct. If the name the school in EHCP, your child can attend.

‘No spaces’ is not grounds for refusal to name. The legal criteria is quite clear.

SaturdayNext Mon 14-Jan-19 00:05:05

This isn't a case where OP has to request to amend the EHCP. As her child is moving to secondary school, the LA has to amend it by 15th February to name the secondary placement, and if it is not a suitable placement she will have a right to appeal against that.

Thinking about it, there's something fishy about saying it's full anyway. If this is a secondary school, then at the moment they have no-one in OP's child's year group: September's Year 7 can't be full, because it doesn't yet exist. If the truth of the matter is that they have decided to allocate other children to the school, they should be open about it; and if they don't have enough special school places in the borough for children who need them, they should be planning ahead on how they are going to fulfil their statutory duties to those children.

Fairylea Mon 14-Jan-19 06:34:08

I’m not sure about the legalities of it but I can tell you that it happens all the time in Norfolk where applications to special schools are totally oversubscribed- when we applied for ds he was 1 of 15 children wanting one space.

In Norfolk they say there isn’t space. They put you back on a waiting list and you are discussed at panel meetings every 2 months or when a space comes up. If you push too hard they trot out the “legal” reasons for refusing a place (I’ve had those as well, I’m not sure they’re actually true in many cases, they just make them fit).

We did get a special school place for ds eventually but it took 2 years of constant fighting and pushing.

Other parents in Norfolk are in the same boat, it’s a huge source of debate in the local sen forums, with lots of ehcp etc specialists saying they can’t do that but all the parents saying they can and they do.

Pandasarecute Mon 14-Jan-19 06:46:04

If you are denied a place tell the LA that you wish to do to tribunal (get support from IPSEA). In my experience (special school teacher) they often then back down and "find" a space! Good luck, I hope you get the school your child needs

Noeuf Mon 14-Jan-19 07:00:03

Missed that Saturday.
Saturday is correct - the Feb deadline allows you time to appeal.

Fairylea - it's up to parents to appeal at that point and understandably it is stressful and complex. If you get a refusal to name the school you can appeal. I get that it happens because of lack of spaces and not every parent is going to appeal.

SaturdayNext Mon 14-Jan-19 07:02:43

It sounds as if it would be worth Norfolk parents' while getting together and trying for a legal challenge of their funding policies, along the lines of what Bristol parents did last year.

Claw001 Mon 14-Jan-19 07:13:57

They must give you the legal reason, for refusing, it’s the Law! Any other reason is unlawful!

If it’s a state special, as it is in this case, they also have to prove one of three legal reason for refusing.

‘No spaces’ effectively means ‘oversubscribed’ if they use the attendance of your child will be detrimental to others line. You show that it would be more detrimental to your child, not to admit ie their choice of school cannot meet needs.

Claw001 Mon 14-Jan-19 07:19:56

Would also add you need the legal reason and their explanation, in order to appeal. Without it, they can move the goal post, when you appeal ie change their legal reason to one of the other 2!

Fairylea Mon 14-Jan-19 07:21:47

Saturday- that is already underway. smile

imip Mon 14-Jan-19 07:28:37

saturday is Feb 15 a national deadline for prospective y7 students to hear of their choices. I want to make sure our LS complies with this. For all children. My dd (ASD) is moving to y7 so have been trying to confirm this date.

imip Mon 14-Jan-19 07:30:51

And yes, if Norfolk parents were considering a JR against this, you could PM me and I could put you into contact with other groups with a JR. There is currently also JR action against central govt because of lack of funding.

Noeuf Mon 14-Jan-19 07:46:02

Feb 15 is a national deadline for transition placements

rainbowbash Mon 14-Jan-19 07:50:48

imip it is the deadline but only for this who already have an EHCP and are transferring from primary to secondary. If your child does not have a Ehcp and you go through normal admissions, then the deadline is later (March or April but not sure).

rainbowbash Mon 14-Jan-19 07:54:14

Good luck Fairy - doesn't sound unlike our LA. The only local SS is oversubscribed - there are about many children needing a place than places (that way what I meant about with no place).

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