All admissions for children and young people who have support outlined in an EHC plan are overseen by the Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment Provision (SENSAP) team and fall outside of the usual admissions protocols.
What types of schools and settings are there in Leeds?
Leeds has a wide range of different types of provision to meet a variety of needs. In general these come under the four following categories. Children/young people must have an EHC plan to access a place in a resource provision, SILC or SILC partnership.
Mainstream: The vast majority of children and young people’s needs are able to be met within their local mainstream school, nursery or college. Schools and settings are able to access a wealth of support, resources and other agencies in order for them to implement robust packages of support to meet a wide range of SEND.
Resource Provisions: Some schools have been given additional support and resources from the local authority in order to ‘specialise’ in meeting a particular SEN for their school. The school will take a cohort of children with similar needs so that they can target teaching and learning in a way that will enable greater support and progress than within their local mainstream school. There are resource provisions available for children with hearing impairments, visual impairment (secondary only), physical and medical difficulties, complex communication disorders (currently primary only), specific learning difficulties (secondary only), and general learning difficulties.
SILC (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre): There are five SILCs across the city, all designed to meet the needs of local children and young people with a vast range of complex needs. All staff members are well-trained and experienced, and the teaching and learning is vastly differentiated in order to enable all children and young people to make progress from their individual starting points.
SILC Partnerships: Each of the SILCs have arrangements with local schools whereby they are able to place a number of children/young people within the mainstream school, but supported, taught and managed mainly by the SILC staff. The children and young people are on the roll of the SILC but often wear the uniform, and follow the daily routines of, the ‘host’ mainstream school. Each of the Partnerships work differently, depending upon their context, and some allow for greater mainstream inclusion than others, however it is expected that all children/young people attending a Partnership will benefit in some way from being in and around the mainstream school. Most Partnerships are generic in nature, catering for a range of needs, however a small number are developed specifically to cater for a particular need, such as Complex Communication Disorders.
In addition, the Lighthouse Free School was set up in September 2014 to meet the needs of secondary-aged pupils with complex communication disorders. Again, children and young people accessing the Lighthouse must have an EHC Plan. In order to meet the needs of pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties Leeds has invested over £45million in providing the infrastructure for a brand new special academy which will cater for up to 340 young people aged between 5 and 16. Springwell Leeds Special Academy is currently still in development and is expected to be fully open and ready in September 2018. Currently the school has opened a number of smaller ‘satellite’ provisions across the city for groups of children in different age ranges. In general, children/young people must have an EHC plan to access a place at Springwell, although there are a small number of places available for some children/young people without an EHC plan in very exceptional circumstances. In Post-16 there is a wide of range of different course and settings available including school sixth forms, colleges, work-based learning opportunities, study programmes, apprenticeships and supported internships. Your current school or setting should provide non-biased ‘Information, Advice and Guidance’ (IAG) in order to support you in your decision making. In the ‘documents’ section you can find several leaflets to help you consider your options, including one for local specialist settings, and another for local post-16 options. You can view our list of all the maintained schools in Leeds.
My child is in nursery. When should I start thinking about primary school?
In most cases parents have a good idea early on about where they would like their child to transfer to following nursery. It is really important to provide that information to SENSAP as soon as possible so that they can begin to work on your behalf to consult with the school and do their best to arrange suitable placement. If you are thinking about a special school or resource provision in Reception, it is important to tell us your preference as early as possible, as places are very limited and we may not be able to offer you your first choice. In any case your child’s EHC plan must name an appropriate primary school placement by February 15th in the calendar year of their transfer. Please note: you do not need to submit an admissions form if your child already has an EHC plan.
When should I start thinking about high school?
Children with EHC plans are the highest priority placement in schools and therefore we need to know the information about where you want your child to go to as soon as possible. The usual admissions round for high school commences on 1st August in the preceding calendar year to their transfer. Therefore we request that you provide us with information regarding your choice of high school by the end of Year 5. The usual way to do this is by holding an annual review in the summer term of Year 5, and by being clear about your choice of school at that meeting. The school holding the review will communicate this to the SENSAP team, who will work on your behalf to consult with the school and do their best to arrange suitable placement. If the information is not provided to SENSAP within a timely manner, particularly if you are requesting a specialist provision, it may be that your first choice of school is no longer able to be provided. In any case your child’s EHC plan must name an appropriate high school placement by February 15th in the calendar year of their transfer. Please note: you do not need to submit an admissions form if your child already has an EHC plan.
When should I start thinking about post-16 education?
The SEND Code of Practice says that consideration about preparing for adulthood should start no later than Year 9, so it is perfectly acceptable to already begin to consider what post-16 courses and settings are available at any point throughout high school. At the end of Year 10 you will be asked for an indication of which college, sixth form, training provider or other establishment you consider to be your preference. Please don’t worry that this must be set in stone, or that there is no opportunity to change your mind later on. This information is important to us so that the local authority can predict and try to buy the right number of places in the right settings. The usual way we ask for this information is for the school to hold an annual review in the summer term of Year 10. The school holding the review will communicate your preference to the SENSAP team, who will work on your behalf to consult with the school or setting of your choice and do their best to arrange suitable placement. If you change your mind about your preference, or if circumstances mean that your original preference is no longer appropriate, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly. In any case the EHC plan must name an appropriate post-16 placement by March 31st in the calendar year of their transfer. Please note: as well as the EHC plan route you will also need to apply directly to the individual sixth form, college or training provider (or other) using their standard application process. Your current school should be able to support you to do this. The college or other establishment will likely want to meet, and possibly interview, the young person and they may require a specific assessment to be done. For a young person with an EHC plan, where the young person meets the entry criteria for the course a place cannot be denied on the basis of the application process alone.
I am / my child is going through an EHC assessment. When should I tell you my preferred choice of school or setting?
Once we send you a draft EHC plan we give you 15 days to consider the EHC plan and recommend any changes that need to be made. This is also your opportunity to tell us which school or setting you would like us to name in the final EHC plan. However, if you already know earlier on which school or setting you would like us to name in the EHC plan, it is worth giving us this information sooner rather than later; this may save some time in the process later on.
Can I have any school or setting I want?
The Children and Families Act 2014 gives parents/young people the right to request any maintained school, academy or free school, a further education provider (such as a college, sixth form or training provider), a non-maintained special school or any institution approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 of the Act.
The local authority must name the school or other setting of the parents’/young person’s preference unless placement would be, under section 39 of the Act:
- Unsuitable for their age, ability, aptitude or SEN
- Incompatible with the provision of efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources
In post-16, the young person must meet the published course entry-criteria in order to be admitted onto the course.
What about independent schools or private nurseries?
Parents/young people are able to make representations regarding their preference for an independent school or other institution, or a private/voluntary/independent nursery. In all cases the local authority will consult with the parents’/young person’s preferred school or setting, but will need consider whether the placement would be, under section 9 of the Education Act 1996:
- Compatible with the efficient training and instruction of the child/young person
- Compatible with the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure
Please see the Secretary of State for Education’s list of independent and non-maintained schools
Will I get transport to and from the school/setting?
School age: The law is clear that it is the parents’ responsibility to get their child to school. Therefore before making a preference it is always important to fully consider how you/your child will get there. The local authority is only obliged to provide assistance with transport in some circumstances. Leeds City Council will only provide assistance with transport for your child to the ‘nearest qualifying school’. If you choose another school further away it is likely that assistance with transport will not be provided. If it is provided, you will be expected to contribute to the overall cost of any transport support that is put into place. Pre-school age: The law does not entitle children under statutory school age to be provided with transport assistance by the local authority. The local authority is committed to ensuring that appropriate and robust special educational provision is implemented in local nurseries and Children’s Centres in order that children can attend their local mainstream settings. If you are concerned about the support your child is able to access in their local nursery or Children’s Centre, please use contact us by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0113 395 1030. Post-16: The law does not entitle young people to be provided with transport assistance by the local authority once they have finished Year 11. However, historically in Leeds assistance has been provided in some circumstances. Recently a public consultation was undertaken in order to make changes to how post-16 transport assistance was provided to young people over 16 with SEND.
What happens if I can’t have my first choice?
Where we are unable to name the school or setting of your choice, we will work hard to find an appropriate alternative offer and communicate this to you as soon as possible, as well as the reasons why your preferred school is not able to be named. Under law, this alternative offer must be a mainstream school or setting, unless you have requested otherwise.
What if I disagree with the school or setting named in Section I of the EHC plan?
Please read our page on Resolving disagreements.
Can anyone support me in making my choice of school or setting?
Parents and young people can seek advice and support from Leeds SEND Information Advice Support Service who will be able to offer support regarding any of the above information. You can call the Helpline on 0113 378 5020 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barnardos are able to provide impartial advocacy to young people in asserting their rights, being involved in decision making processes and ensuring that their views are listened to and taken into account. In order to use this service, please see the Barnardo's website for more information.