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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:33 pm 
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I have a question about admissions to comprehensive schools with a SEN statement. My understanding is that if a school is named in the statement, the school is legally required to admit the child and other admission criteria will not apply (e.g. catchment, distance, etc). I was told that statemented children usually get their first choice, or in worst case second choice if first choice can prove they cannot meet the needs.

Does that mean that if the parents nominate the school, the LEA supports the choice, and the school has the facilities to meet the child's needs, then the school cannot refuse to be named and a place is basically guaranteed? What if we nominate some very highly regarded comprehensive or partially selective schools, like Parmiter's, DAO, etc? Would a child with a statement really be given priority over other children or am I misunderstanding??


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:33 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Quote:
My understanding is that if a school is named in the statement, the school is legally required to admit the child and other admission criteria will not apply (e.g. catchment, distance, etc).


Yes, this is essentially true (apart from Academies which stand in a slightly different position legally). However, the local authority will have consulted with the governing body of the school before naming it on the Statement. Parents do not have an unqualified right to a place at a particular school.

The local authority must name the maintained school that the parents prefer unless the school is:
- unsuitable for the child's age, ability and aptitude and the
special educational needs set out in Part 2 of the Statement, or
- the child's attendance is incompatible with the efficient
education of other children in the school or the efficient
use of the LA's resources
(Schedule 27 of the Education Act 1996)

The LA has the final say in which school is named on the Statement but they have to consult with the governing body and inform them about the child's special educational needs and the provision specified in the Statement, and they will take account of the governing body's views.

Quote:
What if we nominate some very highly regarded comprehensive or partially selective schools, like Parmiter's, DAO, etc? Would a child with a statement really be given priority over other children or am I misunderstanding??


If the LA agree with your preference and the governing bodies do not object on one of the grounds listed above then yes. However, I imagine that highly popular schools might object if, for example, they were repeatedly approached about children from well outside their normal area. Some schools are very popular with parents of children with SEN and can sometimes become overwhelmed to the extent that they ask the LA to limit the number of Statemented children they have to admit. LAs may sometimes name the school the parents prefer but with the proviso that the parents pay the transport costs for the child if they consider a nearer school could have met their needs.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:52 am 
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Alex, thank you so much for your reply. It makes sense and seems very fair.

Could you please clarify which LEA has the final say - the 'home' LEA where we live or the 'school' LEA? In our case, we are going to be moving and we are relatively flexible about the area. Where we move will largely depend on having a confirmed place at a good school, so that we are as close as possible to the school. We are looking at three different schools in three different LEAs. But the school has to be named in the statement nearly a year before we move, while we still live in our 'home' LEA. They currently provide the funding and they will be finalising the statement, so it seems to me that they should have the final say. But what about the school LEA? Once we move, will they be "taking over" the statement as finalised by our current home LEA or will they be revising it?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:59 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
This is getting complicated!

It is the home Local Authority which makes the Statement and foots the bill for the provision specified therein. Where "normal" mainstream school is appropriate they would usually be naming a school within their own boundaries (though clearly in London and other conurbations or where someone lives close to LA borders there will probably be more cross-border movement). I don't think that the LA would be willing to name a mainstream school in another LA which was not relatively local to the current address. They can only work on the basis of the current address. If a parent's preferred school is in another LA area the home LA must consult with that LA as well as with the Governing body of the school.

Although the Statement strengthens a parent's position in asking for their preferred school it is intended to help the child get the provision they need rather than to be a "passport" into highly desirable schools!

What happens when you move into a different LA is increasingly variable because different LAs have introduced different ways of funding special needs. Some LAs delegate a lot of the money for meeting SEN directly to the schools, others relatively little. Therefore, provision which might need a Statement in one authority might be met from a school's own budget in a different authority. Some authorities might be happy to take over a Statement practically lock, stock and barrel and simply name a new school and wait for the next Review; others will always reassess immediately.

I think in your position you need to start investigating how things work in the LAs which might be your eventual home authority - it is quite possible that one may turn out to be a lot "easier" to transfer to and get what you are looking for than another.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:22 pm 
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Alex, many thanks for your reply. I am gradually putting the pieces of the puzzle together.It is getting very complicated indeed! But that's only a small part of it, because we are looking at grammar schools and the comprehensive option will be our third choice.

At the moment I see the statement more as a hindrance, not as a "passport". While non-statemented children have 6 school preferences, we will only be allowed 3. At the moment we are interested in 3 grammar schools, but will only be able to try for 2 of them, because we have to have at least one comprehensive school on the form. The LA person I spoke to told me we must have a comprehensive school choice, otherwise the LA will choose one for us, so we are down to only 2 preferences! Also, for our selective school choices, while non-statemented children receive their exam results before the transfer form is due, so that they know if they have passed and don't "waste" a space on the form, children with a statement have to hand in the form before results are known :( Is that not unfairly disadvantaging statemented children?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:38 am 
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it may have changed since i was involved, but here in Kent the secondary options were discussed at the Annual Review of the statement in Year 5. Parents, School, LA and other professionals involved should all have an input. If possible the 'new' LA could be invited. When is the next Annual review?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:07 pm 
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The Statement has to be amended to name the new school by February 15th of the year of transfer.

A few years ago children here did not get to know their 11+ results until after that date and so Statements were always amended "late" - until someone asked to take the tests early so they would have the results by the time of the Year 5 Review in the Autumn term. It was done, the proviso being that the child had to have turned 10 years old so that they could be standardised (they actually used the previous year's examination and standardisation). I think it just happened that non-one had ever complained about it before. Now the problem has disappeared as the results are known in October anyway.

Quote:
children with a statement have to hand in the form before results are known Is that not unfairly disadvantaging statemented children?


It seems to me that it might be. Additionally, if any child is disabled under the terms of the DDA (and I would suspect that a large number of children with Statements probably are) then it might constitute Disability Discrimination. I am being cautious and I think I would be inclined to seek further advice on this point. Any of ACE, IPSEA or the Children's Legal Centre might be able to advise initially.

Here, parents of Statemented children do not fill in a form making several choices; they make known the school they wish their child to attend and the LA lets them know fairly quickly (at least in the case of a mainstream school) if they are happy to name the school. If there are any problems with the choice the LA contacts the parents to discuss.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Yoyo, it is the same now - secondary transfer is discussed at the year 5 annual review. I have been told that ours will be in March or early April at the latest. That is why I am now trying to understand how the process works, so that I can prepare myself for the meeting as best as I can.

Alex, thank you again for your very informative reply. The timing is a real problem for us - exams are end of September, statemented transfer form deadline is 9 October, exam results come out around 15 October, non-statemented transfer form deadline is 23 October, panel for statemented children meets 2 November, LA consulting with schools by 14 December, final statement issued by 15 February (dates from last year). If the LA are not willing to extend the deadline for the transfer form until after we have the exam results as for non-statemented children, I will be seeking advice about possible discrimination.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 11:45 pm 
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Good luck with it all. Let us know how you get on.


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