Out of school or No school place

(Taken from IPSEA’s Website)

IPSEA have produced this guidance to help parents who are in this situation which has been adapted to meet with Surrey’s process:

Step one – highlight the issue and remind them of the law

Write to your SEND Case Officer and Area Special Education Needs Manager to notify them of the situation. Make clear that this is a matter that needs to be dealt with urgently and quicker than their usual complaints’ process. If you do not know who these people are please email us at sendadvice@surreycc.gov.uk

If a child of compulsory school age isn’t able to attend school then the Local Authority (LA) must ensure that suitable, full-time alternative education is in place: s.19 Education Act 1996. Ask the LA to confirm its proposals for this as soon as possible.

In addition, if a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) then the LA must secure the provision in that plan, section 42 Children & Families Act 2014. You can remind the LA of this duty and complain if the LA isn’t doing so.

If there is a maintained school, Academy, post-16 institution or maintained nursery named in Section I of an EHCP then that school must admit the child, section 43 Children and Families Act 2014.

If your LA hasn’t amended an EHCP ready for when your child or young person moves to a new phase of their education (so that it names a setting your child or young person can’t attend any more), then the LA is in breach of its duties relating to phase transfers and you should ask that the LA amends the plan in accordance with the legal process as soon as possible.

Remember, when making decisions about schools for children and young people with EHCPs, LAs have to comply with the rules in the Children and Families Act 2014.  Decisions can’t be delayed because schools haven’t responded to consultations and reasons such as “the school is full” or “the school doesn’t think it can meet need” aren’t reasons in Law to refuse to name a particular school or college. 

Where a LA has a shortage of places then it is always within its power, in fulfilling its obligations under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014, to consider naming schools outside its area or indeed in the private sector. Ask the LA if they have considered this, provide names of schools if you know of suitable ones.

Step two – Complain (see our information on Complaints)

If contacting the LA doesn’t lead to a satisfactory response you may wish to complain, ultimately it can be taken to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. You are able to complain at any time in the process.

If the issue in your area is that there are no school places, then escalate the complaint to your local MP and/or the Department for Education.