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School admissions of children with special educational needs and disabilities

Admissions are covered by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act applies to all schools. Children and young people with disabilities must not to be treated less favourably than others in the admission process. A school should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to prevent discrimination.

If your child has SEN but no EHC plan

The normal admissions process applies to children and young people with SEND who do not have an EHC plan. Information about applying for a school place can be found on the Sheffield City Council website.

The statutory Admission Code of Practice states clearly that it is unlawful for an admission authority to refuse admission to a child who has SEND, but has no EHCP:

  • on the grounds of the child’s challenging behaviour (except in very limited circumstances); or
  • because it believes the child requires a statutory assessment or requires additional support.

Any such refusal to admit can be challenged through the appeals process.

If your child is new to the city: The team who support children without a school place are the Children Missing Education (CME) team who can be contacted on

If your child has an EHC plan

The admission of a child or young person with an EHC plan is covered by procedures set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. Information about applying for an EHC plan

The school named in an EHC plan must admit the child or young person. This is not an oversubscription criterion – schools must admit such children or young people regardless of whether they have places available.

Children with EHC plans are not admitted through the admissions arrangements and are placed in schools through the EHC plan process.

The child’s parent or the young person can request that any of the following types of institution is named in the EHC plan:

  • A maintained nursery
  • A maintained school, academy or free school (mainstream or special)
  • A non-maintained special school
  • A further education or sixth form college
  • An independent specialist school or college approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (see External Links box)

The local authority must then consult with the school or college and must name it in the EHC plan unless:

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

The “efficient education of others” exception cannot be used in relation to mainstream schools or colleges if there are reasonable steps that the school or college could take to ensure inclusion.

If a school or college is named in the child or young person’s EHC plan, that school or college must then admit them.

Requests for places in non-maintained early years provision or at independent schools, colleges and other providers not on the list approved by the Secretary of State must be considered by the local authority. However, there is no obligation to name the establishment in the EHC plan and not duty on the provider to admit even if named in the EHC plan.


The local authority must issue a final EHC plan naming the school or college your child will transfer to by the following deadlines:

  • 15 February for children transitioning from nursery to primary school, infant to junior school (Y2 to Y3 with a physical site move) or primary to secondary school (Y6 to Y7)

  • 31 March for young people transitioning from secondary school to post-16 education (Y11 to Y12 / college), and for Y14 placements

Last updated: 11/03/2020

Information owner: Admissions and Access Team/SENDSARS

Last Updated: 07/05/2020
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