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Wiltshire SEND education guide

2: Admissions for SEND placements


Most children and young people with SEN or disabilities (SEND) will have their needs met within local mainstream early year settings, schools or colleges form universal services. Some children and young people may require an Education, Health and Care plan, which documents the provision to support the additional needs.

What type of decisions need to be made?

When a request for an EHC needs assessment is made, the local authority has a legal duty to consider it and decide if it is necessary. If that assessment is agreed, the local authority then need to decide if the child or young person requires an EHCP to make special educational provision to meet needs, to secure the best outcomes for them across education, health and social care, and to prepare them for adulthood. These decisions need to be made in a fair and equitable way and in line with the SEND Code of Practice, which lays out how local authorities must make these decisions.

What are Discussion and Decision groups (DaDs)?

We have worked in co-production with parent carers to review and change the format of SEN Panels. Parent carers told us that we were not being clear enough about what the panels were for or who was part of the decision making. So, we have introduced a series of Discussion and Decision groups to replace the single SEN Panel and are sharing information about how the groups work. These groups have been formed to ensure that:

  • there is the opportunity to discuss needs and provision with the most appropriate professionals for the type of request
  • the decisions made are fair, equitable and in line with the law
  • there is regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and parent carer or young person
  • there is a moderation process in place so that our processes are clear for all service users and that we report back on improvements

Discussion and Decision Group 1

This group makes the decision on whether or not to commence an EHC Needs Assessment.

Discussion and Decision Group 2

This group decides on whether to issue an EHCP after an assessment, and specialist provision and funding decisions.

Discussion and Decision Group 3

This group makes decisions on placements and funding for children and young people with highly complex needs.

Discussion and Decision Group 4

This group makes decisions on placements for children who are preparing to transfer from primary to secondary school with an EHCP and may require a maintained special school or resource base.

Once a decision has been made

If a DaD determine the placement type as mainstream resource base or specialist then the following process is followed. The local authority give due regard to the following sections from the SEND code of practice - (opens new window):

9.79 - If a child's parent or a young person makes a request for a particular nursery school or post-16 institution in these groups the local authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless:

  • it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
  • the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources

Efficient education means providing for each child or young person a suitable, appropriate education in terms of their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have. Where a local authority is considering the appropriateness of an individual institution, 'others' is intended to mean the children and young people with whom the child or young person with an EHC plan will directly come into contact on a regular day-to-day basis

9.80 - The local authority must consult the governing body, principal or proprietor of the school or college concerned and consider their comments very carefully before deciding whether to name it in the child or young person's EHC plan, sending the school or college a copy of the draft plan. If another local authority maintains the school, they too must be consulted

9.83 - The nursery, school or college and, where relevant, the other local authority, should respond within 15 days. Where a nursery, school or college identified at 9.78 above is named on an EHC plan they must admit the child or young person

9.84 - The child's parent or the young person may also make representations for places in non-maintained early years provision or at independent schools or independent specialist colleges or other post-16 providers that are not on the list mentioned at 9.78 above and the local authority must consider their request. The local authority is not under the same conditional duty to name the provider but must have regard to the general principle in section 9 of the Education Act 1996 that children should be educated in accordance with their parents' wishes, so long as this is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and does not mean unreasonable public expenditure. The local authority should be satisfied that the institution would admit the child or young person before naming it in a plan since these providers are not subject to the duty to admit a child or young person even if named in their plan.

It should be noted that whilst parental preference is considered, the Local Authority has a duty to consider mainstream as a possibility for all children and young people where appropriate. The LA has a duty to consult with the parental preference but must also consider a range of other factors when determining placement.

For further information visit: SEND code of practice - (opens new window)

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