EOTAS operates under the Children and Families Act 2014
EOTAS is made possible by section 61 of the Children and Families Act 2014. Under section 61, local authorities have the power to consent to a child or young person with SEN being educated somewhere other than a school or post-16 institution (typically at home), but only where the authority is satisfied that “…it would be inappropriate for the provision to be made in a school or post-16 institution or at such a place”.
What is EOTAS?
EOTAS stands for Education Otherwise than at School and is education provision to meet specific needs of pupils who, for whatever reason, cannot attend a mainstream or special school. In law, local authorities are responsible for providing these services.
The existence of EOTAS provision is, in part, a response to exclusion from school. This might include formal disciplinary exclusion or a placement as an alternative to exclusion. EOTAS may also be used for reasons of health and safety where groups, such as pregnant young women, are not considered suitable for mainstream school education.
Children and young people in EOTAS and in particular in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) (see our Information Sheet on PRU’s), can be some of the most vulnerable learners. They can frequently experience family breakdown and mental health issues and can come from homes where there is substance misuse or domestic violence (not in all cases), therefore it is no surprise that these children and young people find themselves in negative patterns of behaviour which impacts on their learning.
The Education Act 2002 and the Education and Skills Measure 2009 provide governing bodies with the power to commission external services. This power can be extended to services of an educational nature. The provisions in law are intended to enable governing bodies to fulfil their responsibilities with regard to 14-19 Learning Pathways. These services should only be used where the school is unable to meet the curricular needs of the learner, i.e. by providing vocational or specialist subjects.
Upper Tribunal in its decision in M & M v West Sussex County Council (SEN)  UKUT 347.
The outcome included two important conditions:
- Section I of the EHCP cannot in these, or any, circumstances be left blank therefore it must name at least the type of school to be attended, the name of a particular school or other institution to be attended.
- Whilst it is possible where section 61 applies to make EOTAS provision in section F, any such provision must be framed either:
(a) with the ultimate aim of getting the child into a school, or
(b) as part of a mixed package of education in and out of school.
There was also a case about Section I cannot lawfully name the child or young person’s home (East Sussex CC v TW  UKUT 528 (AAC)) so should have at least, type of placement that would be suitable for the child or young person must still be named in Section I even where EOTAS applies.