Jan blog – Part Time Timetables

Part-time timetables – what are they and when are they lawful?

Another issue we are often contacted about here at SENDIAS is the use by schools of part-time timetables (also referred to as reduced timetables). Here we are going to look at what children and young people are entitled to in terms of education, if and when part time timetables can and should be used, and how long these arrangements should go on for.

The right to a full-time education

All children of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. A child must start education the term after their fifth birthday and can leave education on the last Friday in June if 16 years old by the end of the summer holidays. (this doesn’t mean they should necessarily be at school, as parents may opt to electively home educate, but they should be receiving a full-time education)

Once they are 16, they must then do one of the following until they’re 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

School’s Duties to secure full-time education

Schools are obliged under Section 317(1)(a) Education Act 1996 to use their best endeavours to secure a full-time education.

According to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the School attendance – guidance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools and local authorities: July 2019:

“Can a school place a pupil on a part-time timetable? As a rule, no. All pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. In very exceptional circumstances there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs. For example, where a medical condition prevents a pupil from attending full-time education and a part-time timetable is considered as part of a re-integration package. A part-time timetable must not be treated as a long-term solution. Any pastoral support programme or other agreement must have a time limit by which point the pupil is expected to attend full-time or be provided with alternative provision. In agreeing to a part-time timetable, a school has agreed to a pupil being absent from school for part of the week or day and therefore must record it as authorised absence”.

2 things are indicated here – 1) it is only due to a child or parent’s request for part time attendance that this could be considered by the school NOT the school’s request to the parent for their child to attend part time. 2) Should part time attendance be felt to be in the child’s best interest, then this should be time limited after which the child either returns to full time education or alternative provision is provided.

Local Authority’s duties to secure full-time education

Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on LAs to make suitable alternative education for children of statutory (compulsory) school age who cannot attend school because of illness, exclusion or any other reason. (This is an important but often overlooked phrase and would certainly apply to part time attendance).

A local authority (“LA”) is permitted, under section 19 Education Act 1996, to provide “education on such part-time basis as the authority consider to be in the child’s best interests”, where “for reasons which relate to the physical or mental health of the child, it would not be in the child’s best interests for full-time education to be provided”. (emphasis is mine)

Alternative provision

The DfE’s Alternative Provision – statutory guidance for local authorities states under the headings:

The provision of suitable full-time education to those who would not otherwise receive it:

  • “While there is no statutory requirement as to when suitable full-time education should begin for pupils placed in alternative provision for reasons other than exclusion, local authorities should ensure that such pupils are placed as quickly as possible”.
  • “While ‘full-time’ is not defined in law, pupils in alternative provision should receive the same amount of education as they would receive in a maintained school. Full-time can be made up of two or more part-time provisions”. (in fact, an LGO ruling from 2019 stated that guidance suggests that full time is approx. 22- 25 hours per week, or may be less if receiving 1:1 face to face tuition).

Planning for alternative provision

“All pupils should be helped and encouraged to achieve or exceed the standards of a good education. Commissioners should recognise any issues or barriers, and hence a potential requirement for alternative provision, as early as possible, and carry out a thorough assessment of the pupil’s needs. Schools should look to have an increased focus on the early assessment and identification of a pupil’s needs before his or her behaviour has deteriorated to the extent that exclusion is the only option”. Or if not overt exclusion, then unlawful exclusion through incorrect use of a part time timetable.

Case Law

IPSEA have a very interesting case law summary regarding a child who despite having a Statement of SEN (equivalent of an EHC Plan prior to 2014) was placed on a part time timetable almost at the beginning of starting secondary school. Although the First Tier Tribunal sided with the school, the parents took it to the Upper Tribunal who disagreed with the original ruling.

The Upper Tribunal findings were:

  • Once the child had become a registered pupil, the school had been obliged, under s. 317(1)(a) Education Act 1996, to use its best endeavours to secure a full-time education.
  • The school had not made any provision for the hours where the child was not in school.
  • The authority arguably owed an even stronger duty to secure for the child a full-time education given their duty to arrange the educational provision specified in the statement of SEN.

The conclusion from this then is that IF part time attendance at school is felt to be in the child’s best interests by the parent (or even by the school), and school are not going to arrange and fund suitable alternative provision themselves during this time, then the LA must be involved in that decision as it is they who have a duty to secure full time education under section 19. This is the same for those with SEN regardless of whether they have EHC Plan or not.

Without this discussion, consideration and agreement with all relevant and suitable ‘parties’ that it is in the child’s best interests; and if suitable education is not arranged, then ‘Part-time timetables’ are very likely to be unlawful exclusions. This is especially true in situations where school are suggesting these because they do not have enough resources to support a child’s behaviour or other needs.

A part-time timetable must not be used as a disciplinary measure. This would result in the child accruing day or half-day exclusions (depending on the circumstances) every time the child wasn’t in school, which if being recorded properly would trigger a different process.

For those with EHC Plans, if the support within the EHCP is not working, or the child’s needs have changed, then an emergency review is needed BEFORE a decision is made to reduce attendance / timetable. Only through a review can it be established that a reduced timetable is in the best interests of the child.

What if a part time timetable IS in the best interests of my child?

As mentioned above, in exceptional circumstances, part time attendance or a part time timetable may be in a child’s best interest for example:

  • where a medical condition prevents full-time attendance or
  • a child is transitioning back into school after a long-term absence.

If this is being discussed, then you should be able to reasonably expect the following:

  • It must be clear when the part-time timetable comes to an end and must not be a long-term measure.
  • The school must have your signed parental permission evidenced on the school file prior to the commencement of a part time timetable.
  • Where appropriate, your child must have an active involvement in the process of planning, reviewing and evaluating the provision.
  • A clear and evidenced rationale for the reduced hours, aimed at supporting the needs of your child as part of a detailed action plan. There should be a clear pathway to full integration within an agreed timeline of no more than a few weeks (usually 6-8 weeks is the maximum agreed). This should have LA agreement.
  • The absences from school as part of the part-time timetable will be treated as authorised absence.
  • A formal risk assessment of the impact that a reduced timetable would have on your child must be carried out and agreed. What happens at the end of the period?
  • There should be a review meeting midway through and towards the end of the proposed period with opportunity to discuss support and if the all objectives of the part time timetable are being met.

•  What if the part time timetable has not achieved the results we hoped for? Before the end of the agreed period of the plan, if the objectives have not been achieved, a multi-agency meeting needs to be arranged urgently to plan the next steps for your child. This might well include specialist staff from outside agencies.

School Exclusions

Exclusions is a subject that we receive a lot of calls and emails about at SENDIASS and last week we presented a Webinar on the subject. We included information about the different types of exclusions, when exclusions should be used (and when not), what you should be able to lawfully expect if your child has been excluded and what to do if you do not agree with an exclusion. You can find the Webinar and the accompanying Legislation and Statutory guidance on our Videos and Webinars  page of our website.

One of the things we mentioned in the Webinar was the School Exclusion Review by Edward Timpson (known as the ‘Timpson Review’).

According to the Timpson review of school exclusion Literature review  :

Official statistics show that children with SEN represent 14% of the state-funded school population (DfE, 2018b) but account for almost half of permanent exclusions (DfE, 2018a). The same data show that pupils with SEN support are almost six times more likely to receive a permanent exclusion than pupils with no SEN and pupils with any type of SEN are around five times more likely to receive a fixed period exclusion.

Vulnerable groups of children are more likely to be excluded, with 78% of permanent exclusions issued to children who had special educational needs (SEN), or classified as in need or eligible for free school meals.

Edward Timpson made 30 ‘recommendations’ in his report and whilst the Government have accepted all of them ‘in principle’ there are 3 specific responses in the Government Response paper specifically relating to SEN which we wanted to highlight here: 

Government response to recommendation 1: ………. We will also revise the SEND Code of Practice before the end of 2020.

Government response to recommendation 6: We welcome the additional evidence gathered by this report and recognise the need to ensure that SENCOs and Designated Senior Leads have access to specialist support to help them identify additional needs and put in place effective interventions. To support new SENCOs, we are funding the development of a SENCO induction pack and a guide for school leaders in the most effective deployment of SENCOs according to setting. We are also reviewing the learning outcomes for the Masters level National Award in SEN Coordination (NASENCO) that new SENCOs are required to achieve, to ensure that they reflect the changing needs of the educational system. We will support schools and colleges to train a Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health, free of charge. This training will enable senior leads to set up an effective whole school/college approach to mental health and wellbeing. This will include how to incorporate mental health and wellbeing in the design of behaviour policies, curriculum and pastoral support; how staff are supported with their own mental wellbeing; and how pupils and parents are engaged. The department published updated ‘Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools’ advice in November 2018. This advice helps schools to identify pupils whose behaviour may be a result of an underlying mental health difficulty, and how to support them, within an approach to behaviour that is based on clear expectations. The advice contains specific information about how schools can support pupils through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and on whole school trauma and attachment awareness. This guidance will be revised in response to Edward Timpson’s review.

Government response to recommendation 18: We recognise the need for better signposting for parents and carers. We will update guidance for parents as recommended and will consider how to meet the recommendations on Local Offers and Information, Advice and Support Services.

We will continue to watch out for updates on this and will publish when we hear or see anything new.

Dec Blog – How to apply for an EHC Needs Assessment.

How to apply for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment and what to include.

Some children and young people with special educational needs may need more support than a mainstream education setting (schools, colleges, nurseries) can offer and may need to have an Education Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) to work out how much and what sort of help they need.

There may be several reasons why you as a young person or parent are looking to make a request yourself for an EHCNA (Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment). Ideally if there are still concerns despite ongoing support (see previous Blog) then we would hope to see the school making the request directly but this may not always be possible i.e.

  • Child or young person is not attending school / college
  • School say they do not have the time or staff to make a timely request
  • School do not think that your child / young person’s needs will meet the Local Authority’s (LA’s) criteria,
  • School have not collected the evidence required by the LA.

However, if you feel that your child’s needs (or your own needs as a young person) meet the criteria set out in law (Children & Families Act 2014 and the SEN Code of Practice 2015) then you have the right to request an EHC Needs Assessment from the Local Authority.

How to apply for an EHCNA:

The following people have a specific right to request for an EHC needs assessment:

  • A child’s parent1.
  • A young person themselves if over 16.2
  • A person acting on behalf of a school or post 16 institution

1For children under 16, the parent makes the request. This includes children from age 0 to 5, where parents should make a request if they believe that the child will need extra help at nursery or when they start school.

2Where a young person is between 16 and 25, they can make the request themselves. If the young person is not able to understand, remember or communicate decisions about the educational support they need, their parent or carer can make the request on a young person’s behalf.

Anyone else can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the Local Authority, particularly where they think an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. For example; foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff (other than the senco) or a family friend.

Bringing a child or young person to the attention of the local authority would be undertaken on an individual basis where there are specific concerns and should be done with the knowledge and, where possible, agreement of the child’s parent or the young person.  

The process should be the same whether a formal request has been made or they have been brought to the LA’s attention i.e. The LA should be contacted through SENAT (Special Education Needs Assessment Team) and they will seek views and evidence to decide whether an EHCNA should be done. In practice the majority of concerns will likely be discussed with the parent or young person directly and they themselves will make the request (if school do not). Only where parental agreement cannot be sought and there are ongoing concerns around education or parents are not able to make the request themselves that this is likely to happen.

Children and young people under 19 in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an assessment for an EHC plan themselves.

Lawfully speaking there should be no specific way to make a parental request (i.e. you should be able to call the LA and state over the phone that you are requesting one). However, it is important for the LA to see as much explanation and evidence as possible so it is helpful to put it in writing if possible.

This can be done via page 6 of the WSCC online request pages Or in a letter–(see template letter as an example)

What should I include in my request

As discussed in the previous blog, an EHCNA request should be accepted by the Local Authority where there is or may be SEN and it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

For a young person aged over 18, a local authority must consider whether he or she requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age who do not have special educational needs, to complete his or her education or training [CAFA 36(10)]

At this point, to determine whether an EHCNA is necessary, only needs that affect a child or young person’s learning will be considered. Where there is only health or social care needs, an EHC Needs Assessment would not be considered (however, other assessments may be required instead i.e. social care assessment). Once an EHC Needs Assessment is agreed then all other health and social care needs will be included in that assessment. It is still worth recording all health & social care needs in your request but we would advise making those that affect learning clear.

A note about mental health

It is worth noting here that although it has ‘health’ in the name, Mental Health comes under the SEMH (Social, Emotional & Mental Health) category of SEN and should be treated the same as any of the other 3 categories. If a child or young person suffers with anxiety and provision is able to be met at school to meet this need then an EHCNA would not be required. However if their mental health difficulties  mean that Special Educational Provision is needed and school or college are not able to resource that provision or a different kind of provision is required then they would be expected to provide, then an EHC Needs Assessment should be sought.

If you are writing as a parent, it is also important to record a child and young person’s views where at all possible. A helpful way to do this could be through a WIKI 

We have put together a list of suggestions of things to include that may help you to write your request  either as a parent or as a young person.

Some of these may be evidenced through professional reports; through ILPs or equivalent (individual learning plans), yearly reports or communications that demonstrate any barriers to learning.

What else to consider?

One you have sent your request The LA must reply within six weeks of receiving it (this is required by regulation 4(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014). They should always reply to you as a parent or young person – even where the request was made by the school or college.

Within this 6 weeks, the LA (SENAT) will contact the school or college (if on roll) for their views and evidence which will be considered along with the information sent with your request.  As mentioned previously, we would advise you to speak to the school or college to let them know that you will be making your own request for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment as they will need to get their evidence ready for the LA (and they only have a short amount of time to do this).

Before you make your request, you may want to see what evidence the school or college holds, in case they have something that may help or could prevent you both submitting the same evidence. However, if this is not forthcoming and you feel that it may be helpful for your EHCNA request, then you may be able to make a SAR (Subject Access Request) to obtain this information.

One of the pieces of evidence that the LA will expect from the school or college is a costed provision map. This is simply a timetable of support that the child / young person receives with related costs (i.e. 1:1 / small group staff time; cost of involving specialists, counselling or therapies; cost of specialised software or equipment etc). The LA will often use this to see whether the school or college could use more of their own resources so it is important that they include ALL the support being given, with correct costings).

Who can help?

SENDIAS can help if you feel you:

  • Need further advice on what to write in your request
  • Are not sure if you / your child meet the criteria for an EHCNA
  • Want some help or advice to communicate with the school about your concerns.

You can contact us either on  0330 222 8555 or email us at send.ias@westsussex.gov.uk

Alternatively you may find the following helpful:

The Local offer



Nov Blog – When should I start thinking about an EHC Plan?

When should I start thinking about an EHC Plan?

Is your child struggling at school and you are wondering about asking for an EHC Plan (EHCP)? Perhaps you’ve heard people speaking about an EHC needs Assessment (EHCNA) and would like to know more? This month’s blog explains what these are and when you should consider requesting one.

Please note: quotes from the SEN Code of Practice 2015 or the Children and Families Act 2014 uplifted directly will be in blue.

What is an EHCNA and EHCP?

An EHCNA (Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment) is an assessment done by the Local Authority of the educational, health & social care needs of the child or young person (CYP). This is a legal process used to determine whether an EHCP is needed.

An EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) is a legal document that describes the aspirations, desired outcomes, the Special Educational Needs (as well as Health & Social Care needs) of the CYP and the support (Provision) required for them. It also names the education setting that the CYP will attend (and sets out any personal budgets that have been agreed).

The legal circumstance for considering an EHCP?

If a CYP has a learning difficulty or a disability which is holding them back at school or college, and the school or the parents of the CYP (or the young person themselves) believe that the school or college is not able to provide the help and support which is needed, then a request should be made to the Local Authority (LA) for an EHC needs assessment.

For the Local Authority to agree to undertake an EHCNA, 2 criteria must be met: 

1) That the child has or may have SEN (Special Educational needs) and

2) That it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

The definition of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Special Educational Provision (SEP) are set out in the Children & Families Act 2014:

20 When a child or young person has special educational needs

(1) A child or young person has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.

(2) A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she—

(a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or

(b) has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions.

21 Special educational provision, health care provision and social care provision

(1) “Special educational provision”, for a child aged two or more or a young person, means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age

(2) “Special educational provision”, for a child aged under two, means educational provision of any kind.

(5) Health care provision or social care provision which educates or trains a child or young person is to be treated as special educational provision (instead of health care provision or social care provision).

What should happen before making an EHCNA request?

When looking at SEND, the main thing that is considered is a child or young person’s desired outcomes. These outcomes should be based on their needs. The provision required will then be decided upon, in order to meet those needs. Whilst diagnosis can be important and the process of diagnosing should offer insight into a CYP’s needs; SEN Support or an EHCP will not be given based on diagnosis alone.

Every school is required to identify and address the SEN of the pupils that they support. Mainstream schools (including academies etc.) must:

  • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN (6.2)

(for more information on what ‘best endeavours’ means, follow link to IPSEA website)

Schools should make regular assessments of progress for all pupils and should be able to identify any pupils making less than expected progress given their age and individual circumstances. (This should include national data and expectations of progress to compare the results against). This can be characterized by progress which:

  • is significantly slower than that of their peers starting from the same baseline
  • fails to match or better the child’s previous rate of progress
  • fails to close the attainment gap between the child and their peers
  • widens the attainment gap

To note:  It can include progress in areas, other than attainment – for instance where a pupil needs to make additional progress with wider development or social needs in order to make a successful transition to adult life.

Where a pupil is identified as having SEN, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place. This SEN SUPPORT should take the form of a four-part cycle known as the graduated approach.

Note about school funding

Schools receive SEN funding in the form of notional SEN budget and it is expected that this should be used to make the special educational provision (support) (i.e. 1:1 support, small group work, specialist equipment, pay for needed therapies, consult with specialist services etc).

Note: Although the Government currently suggest that schools should provide up to the first £6,000 of this provision, there are many factors involved in this and not all schools will have the ability to spend this amount on your CYP’s needs (especially if they have a lot of children with complex needs etc). Whilst Local Authorities are allowed to develop criteria as guidelines, such as this, they must be prepared to depart from these criteria where there is a compelling reason to do so (SEND CoP 2015 9.16). Bottom line, a child should not miss out on needed support because the school does not have the resources and should not have an EHCNA request refused just because the school have not spent £6,000 on your CYP.

Reason for applying even if school are using best endeavours:

Lack of progress – If school have been giving support but expected progress in those areas of concern is not being made, then an EHC Needs Assessment request should be considered as more resources or more specialised resources may be needed to meet your CYP’s needs. School would be expected to make the request themselves but as parents, you also have the right to make this request directly (but please make sure the school are aware as they will still need to gather and upload evidence).

Moving to next level of education – A young person who was well supported … while at school may move to a further education (FE) college where the same range or level of support is not available. An EHC plan may then be needed to ensure that support is provided and co-ordinated effectively in the new environment (CoP 9.15). This could also apply to moving from primary to secondary.

If there is a concern then have a conversation with any colleges / secondary school you may be considering, to discuss how they may be able to support your CYP should they attend there.  The college is then able to decide if an EHCP will be needed to make all the required provision. If they are stating that they would not be able to provide the right support without one, obtain that in writing as you will be able to use that as evidence when making your EHCNA request.

What if you feel that school are not using best endeavours?

If you feel that the school are not doing all they can and your child is still struggling, then further discussion with the school may be needed to explore this further. If all other avenues have been exhausted and you feel that their duty to make best endeavours to provide support is not being fulfilled, then you may consider making a complaint to the school (please follow your school’s complaint policy).

The LA would expect schools to fulfil their duties first before agreeing to do an EHCNA and therefore would likely refuse any request in these circumstances (although of course you would have a right to appeal to the SENDIST tribunal against a refusal).

If you still feel that an EHCNA is needed

In the meantime, keep any records of ILPS or equivalent (Individual learning plans), yearly reports or communications that demonstrate any barriers to his/her learning, what the school have done about these and whether the provision has worked / not worked (and the reasons why). These can then be used to evidence that support over and above what the school would be expected to provide is needed.

Coming up next – How to make a request for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA). Please sign up to our blog to receive automatically.

For more information:

If you are considering making an EHCNA request, there is information on the West Sussex Local Offer that may be helpful.

Also on the Local Offer, SENDIAS have put together a general ‘questions and answers’ page related to EHC Plans.

TOP TIPS – Preparing for a meeting.

Welcome to our first mid-month blog. Every so often we will be posting ‘incidental’ blogs in addition to our main monthly ones . In these we may bring current news to your attention, or provide some tips and advice that we hope you will find useful.

Perhaps you have a meeting coming up to discuss your child / young person who is struggling and not sure how to approach it? Or you find yourself getting upset, anxious or even cross at the thought of the meeting? Here are a few tips taken from our own leaflet ‘Communicating with Professionals’ as well as a few helpful questions that you may want to ask.

Plan in advance

It is helpful to plan ahead for any meeting. You could:

  • Make sure you and those invited to the meeting are clear as to why the meeting is happening including how much time is needed or being given
  • Think about the outcome(s) you would like from the meeting and the questions you want to ask or the points you want to raise. Make a note of these to take with you to act as a reminder.
  • Think about how you might raise any concerns without being confrontational – see some examples below.
  • Take your partner / friend / family member with you for moral support. They may also be able to help you to keep track of your questions and may help you to write down anything that is said in response to your questions. Do let the professional who has organised the meeting that someone else will be attending with you so there are no surprises.
  • Make sure any paperwork that you need is sorted and easy to find.
  • Take paper and pen so that you can refer to what you wanted to ask and write down anything that will be done as an outcome or an action and who is going to carry that out and when

During the meeting:

  • Ask to be introduced to anyone at the meeting that you don’t know and their roles at the meeting to be explained
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for any jargon or abbreviations to be explained
  • Try to stay calm and polite. If you feel that you are getting upset or angry: ask if you could take a few minutes away from the meeting to collect your thoughts and emotions or spend a couple of moments going through your notes.
  • Revisit your outcomes to see whether these have been addressed.
  • At the end of the meeting summarise (or ask for someone else to) what has been agreed and what will happen next (with time frames)

After the meeting:

  • When you get home, check and tidy up any notes you made, so that you can  refer to them in the future if necessary
  • If actions were agreed, try and leave until the time agreed to see if the actions make any difference
  • Keep a log of any incidents/ concerns that continue so that the actions/outcomes can be revisited at an appropriate time

Helpful Questions to ask in a meeting

Communication can be a complicated process, with use of language, tone, non-verbal signals, engaged listening, often all being used at the same time. When we add emotions or conflict to the mix there is more chance of that communication not working in the way we want or need it to.

When communication is used effectively; teamwork, decision making and problem solving are improved and even negative or difficult messages can be communicated without creating conflict or destroying trust. The following type of questions used in your meeting can help with this:

Positive opening…

  • Tell me how well my child is doing in your class…
  • What is my child good at?
  • What are my child’s positive points…?
  • What do you /others like about my child?

Showing a willingness to work together….

  • How can we help my child with improving on ______ together?
  • How can we_______?
  • What are your thoughts on______?
  • It has been suggested that ______ can be helpful, can we try that?
  • How can I support you in supporting my child?
  • I have found _______ particularly helpful and I wanted to share this in case it’s helpful for you too. (you know your child best, feel free to share that knowledge)
  • My child thinks __________ may help, would it be worth a try? (your child’s view is very important, if they can vocalise what might help this is very useful)

When you are unsure about what has been said….

  • What do you mean when you say ______?
  • How does _____ relate to my child?
  • I am not sure what you mean, please could you put that another way for me?
  • Let me see if I understand you; do you mean _____ or _____?
  • I am not sure how _______relates to our problem/discussion/issue, please can you explain that to me?
  • Could you give me an example of what you mean / how that would look/ how that will work?
  • Would _____ be a good example of that?

If things aren’t moving in the direction you wanted you could try:

  • Have you considered ______?( you can give an idea)
  • My understanding is _______ .( especially helpful if you are certain of a fact and want to put this forward in a way that won’t create ill feeling)
  • If you can’t do _________, what could you do instead?

Oct Blog – SENDIAS Support For EHC Appeals

At SENDIASS, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of requests for support with appeals against the Local Authority’s (LA) decisions concerning EHC Plans and EHC Needs Assessments.

It is probably worth mentioning here, that in West Sussex it is SENAT (Special Educational Needs Assessment Team) who represent the LA in decisions around EHCNAs and EHC Plans so where we talk about appealing against an LA decision, it is in effect a decision made by SENAT but the LA is overall responsible.

What can I Appeal?

You are able to appeal to the SEND Tribunal if the LA:

  • refuses to carry out an EHC needs Assessment or a re-assessment
  • refuses to issue an EHC Plan
  • issues or amends an EHC Plan but you disagree with any or all of Section B (special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement)
  • decides not to amend an EHC Plan after an annual review
  • decides to cease to maintain the EHC Plan

Parents and young people also currently have the right to appeal against the health and social care sections of the plan (Sections C, D, G and H). 

Please note – Appeals resulting from amendments, re-assessments and the ceasing of an EHC Plan will be considered in a separate blog.

How can SENDIASS help

We will be able to explain the process to you and help you with the completion of forms and preparation of your case.  We can help you think through what you want to get across during a mediation meeting or tribunal hearing but we will not make recommendations or decisions for you.

We may be able to accompany you to the mediation meeting or to the Tribunal hearing and support you in ensuring your voice is being heard, and if asked any questions we would answer from your perspective and not our own.

In order for the support we offer to be as effective as possible with your appeal process, here are some things to help you:


You have 2 months from the date of the letter (either stating that the Local Authority (LA) are refusing to Assess or that accompanies the final EHC Plan), or 1 month from the mediation certificate (whichever is the later) to submit your appeal paperwork to the SEND Tribunal.

Although this may seem a long time, there may be a lot of paperwork that needs to be gathered and some conversations and appointments needed so it is worth starting as soon as you can. Leaving it to the last minute may mean that your appeal is not as effective as it could be as vital information may be missing.

Action: As soon as you start considering that you may want to appeal you can give us a call and we can talk you through the process to make sure you haven’t missed anything. In some circumstances you may already know the LA’s decision before you receive the letter so do make contact with us at this stage.

Tip: Mark the above dates in your diary as soon as you know them with a reminder for at least 2 weeks before so that you have time to make any last minute changes or additions to your appeal before needing to submit it.

Initial process

Ideally by the time you receive the formal decision letter from the LA, you will have already had conversations with your planning coordinator about decisions being made and will have a good understanding of why they do not agree with what you have asked for.  If you do not understand the reasons or you have not been told, do not be afraid to ask them for more clarity.

If despite these conversations, you still do not agree with the decisions then you will need to call Global Mediation to discuss whether to go to mediation or straight to appeal (you can read more about the differences in our leaflet – Lodging an appeal with the SEN & Disability Tribunal).

If you chose to go straight to appeal then Global will issue you with a certificate and you are then able to submit your appeal with the SEND Tribunal. In order to do this you will need to complete an appeal form. There is one for Refusal to Assess (SEND35a) and a different one for appealing sections of the Final EHC Plan (SEND35).

Once you have completed the form and gathered all the required paperwork (checklist is on the forms) you can then submit it to the SEND Tribunal. They prefer your appeal and paperwork to be emailed (this is also quicker) but if you are not able to do this then you can post hard (paper) copies instead. However, they do ask for an email address or phone number in case they need to contact you.

Important: Even if we have agreed to attend the tribunal hearing with you at this stage, please do not put the advisers name on this appeal form (under representative). You will receive another form for this to be done – see below.

Tip: As soon as you think you may appeal, start to have a look at the form that applies to your appeal (you can usually print a blank copy). You can then start jotting down notes for the different sections. This will prevent you having to do it all at once and perhaps forgetting something.

Appeal Accepted

You should hear back from SEND Tribunal within 10 working days with a decision about whether the appeal has been registered (if not, it is usually because some vital paperwork is missing or you have missed the deadline). If registered, the letter will set out a timetable including a list of deadlines for you and for the LA.

You will also receive an attendance form and a request for changes form.

Refusal to Assess appeals are decided on the paperwork only but all other appeals will need to be decided at a hearing. If we have agreed to attend the Tribunal hearing with you then you can now add the advisors name to the attendance form. This is an example of the Parental Attendance form:

Attendance form for parents

If you have any witnesses, you will also need to complete their details on this form, so please get their permission first.

The request for changes form will need to be used if you make any changes or additions to the initial appeal paperwork.

The hearing or decision is usually held within approx. 12 weeks of accepting the appeal.

Action: As soon as you have the acceptance letter get in touch with us if you have any questions or feel you may need support – 0330 222 8555. If you can email through the letter with the deadlines then this is even more helpful.

Tip: Mark these dates in your diary (with reminders a couple of weeks or so beforehand in case you need to take any action).

Further information around appeals can be found:

SENDIST information

Videos about the tribunal process

IPSEA Appeal information

Ipsea’s Refusal to assess pack

Sept Blog – Admissions

School Admission Dates 2019

Is your child in the last year of infant, junior or primary school or will they be starting school for the very first time next year? If so, then you are likely to be getting ready to apply to West Sussex County Council Admissions for a school place.

This can be a daunting task trying to make the right decision for your child, so if you’re unsure about what options you have, then we aim to clear some of this up here.

In this blog we give a brief overview of the different schools, some things to consider if your child has SEND and some of the information that is available to help you make your decision.

Key dates

Starting school & transferring to Junior school

Applications open Monday 7th October 2019 and close Wednesday 15th Jan 2020. Offer date is Thursday 16th April 2020

Transferring to Secondary school

Applications open 9th Sept 2019 and close Thursday 31st Oct 2019. Offer date is Monday 2nd March 2020

What schools can I apply for?

If your child does not have an *EHC Plan (even if they are at *EYPARM stage, in the EHC Needs Assessment process or at SEN Support at school) then at this point, you can only apply for admission to a mainstream school. (Please note: if your child already has an EHC Plan then the process is different so please refer to the information on our resources page)

The mainstream types of school are – Maintained – schools maintained by the Local Authority and Academies, (including church-aided, foundation and free schools) who are funded directly by the Secretary of State. As well as applying through the Admissions system online, some academies (especially church- aided) will also want you to complete their own admissions form. You should be able to find details of this on the county council’s admissions guidance or on the school’s own website.

A special school is a school which is “specially organised to make special educational provision for pupils with SEN” (section 337 of the Education Act 1996) and SSCs (Special support Centres attached to mainstream schools) generally require a child to have an EHC Plan to be able to access these and cannot be applied for through the admissions process.

If you live near the West Sussex border, you may be considering a school either in-county (within West Sussex) or out-of-county (outside of West Sussex). You can apply for an out-of-county school in the same way (but select the county you require from the drop down option on the online form and a list of their schools will appear).

How is the school selected?

Applications are made online. You are entitled to state 3 preferences on the admissions form (which should be listed in preferred order) and it is advisable to make one of them your catchment area school . There are several reasons for this but the main one is that applications are ranked against the school’s over-subscription criteria and not the preference order that they are listed on the application. If you chose an oversubscribed school, the further away you live the less likely you are to be offered a place.

You will also need to check to see whether a Supplementary Information Form (SIF) is needed. These are often required by church-aided , foundation schools and some academies.

What if my child has SEND?

All mainstream schools have a duty to support children with *SEND and are given resources to do this. In fact should you wish your child to be educated in a mainstream school, The SEN Code of Practice states that admissions authorities ” must not refuse to admit a child who has SEN but does not have an EHC plan because they do not feel able to cater for those needs ” (1.27).

There are several things you can do if you want to find out how (not if) a school will be able to support your child:

  • Talk to the Senco (you can use the SENDIAS’s list of questions to help you )
  • Look at the school’s SEN Information Report (on the school’s website)
  • Look at the school’s Ofsted report
  • You may consider applying under the Exceptional and Compelling grounds

Exceptional and Compelling circumstances

Some schools have a criteria where priority will be given to applicants if there is a strong medical case or exceptional need for the child to attend the school named first on their application, known as the exceptional and compelling category.  However it is quite rare for places to be given under these circumstances. Unfortunately, issues such as difficulties with childcare arrangements or the child’s ability/school performance are not covered by this category.

What if I don’t think my child is ready to start school?

In West Sussex your child may start either full or part-time in the September following their fourth birthday. The School Admissions Code states that parents of summer-born children and those who were born prematurely (who would have naturally fallen into a lower age group if they had been born full-term) can choose not to send their child to school until the September following their fifth birthday.  This is known as delayed admission

If you feel this is appropriate for your child , a delayed entry application must be made. It is important to still continue to make an admissions application in the normal way to ensure a school place should the delayed application be refused.

What if I don’t get the school we wanted?

  • If you are not offered the school you wanted, you are entitled to appeal the decision.
  • You may also have the option of joining a waiting list for the school.
  • Keep talking with the Senco and school staff of the school your child has been offered both before and after they start to make the transition as positive as possible.


  • *EHC Plan – Education health & care Plan
  • *EYPARM – Early Years Planning and Review Meeting
  • *SEND – Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities

For further info:

Blog starting September 2019

Watch this space for our new Blog, starting in September 2019

Welcome to our Blog

Hello and welcome! We are so glad you’ve joined us.

We are all aware that the world of SEND (Special Needs and Disabilities) Law has been changing over the last few years. We have seen the updated Children and Families Act 2014 along with the SEND Code of Practice 2015, Equality Act 2010, New Exclusions guidance and so on

Changes to benefits and Appeals, reduced resources in schools and Local Authority services have all contributed to confusion around provision – what SHOULD be provided according to Law and what IS being provided.

This monthly blog has been created to give opportunity to unpick some of these issues and keep you up to date with any further changes being made in the SEND world.

This blog will be coming in September 2019, so sign up and be ready!