School admissions of children with special educational needs and disabilities

SEND school places

Most children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) attend a mainstream school or college.

You should apply through the local authority’s admission process unless your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

You can check the schools in your catchment area here.

Children and young people with Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans attend mainstream schools and colleges, integrated resources (specialist units in mainstream schools,) or special schools.

You can only apply for a special school or integrated resource if your child has an EHC plan.

Your child’s school place will be arranged by the local authority’s SEND Statutory Assessment and Review Service (SENDSARS), not through the general admission process.

SENDSARS will contact you when it is time to apply and to discuss your preferred education setting. They will do this when your child is due to move from nursery to primary; primary to junior; junior to secondary; and secondary to Post 16.

If you would like your child to move to a different school mid-year or outside the normal admission times, you should ask for an emergency review of their EHC Plan. You can ask your child’s current school or SENDSARS for this.

Naming a school place

You have a legal right to request that a particular school or college (mainstream, special or Integrated Resource) is named in your child’s EHC Plan. The local authority will ask you which school you prefer your child to attend when they first issue an EHC plan, and also when your child is due to move to a new setting (e.g. from primary to secondary school). You can give more than one preference.

Once you have expressed a preference, the local authority must 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 they could take to ensure inclusion.)

Once a school or college is named in the child or young person’s EHC plan, that school or college must admit them (exceptions apply for independent schools).


If your child is due to start school or move schools, the local authority will ask you to complete a preference form well before the general admissions deadline. This is because the local authority needs time to consult with schools.

They must then issue a final EHC plan naming the school or college your child will transfer to by the following national 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.

How to appeal

If you disagree with the choice of school or college named in your child’s EHC Plan (or other aspects of the plan), you can appeal to the SEND tribunal

It is also advisable to contact SENDSARS to see if the disagreement can be resolved without having to go to tribunal.

Useful contacts

SSENDIAS (Sheffield SEND Information Advice and Support): Provides impartial information, advice and support to parents of children with SEND, including in relation to appeals and SEND tribunals. 0114 273 6009 /

SENDSARS (SEND Statutory Assessment and Review Service): Deals with statutory assessments, EHC plans, annual reviews and specialist placements. 0114 273 6394 / sendassess&

School Admissions Service: 0114 273 5766 /

School Appeals Service: 0114 273 4008 /

Children Missing from Education Team: 0114 2736462 /