Can we appeal for transport to specialist school if we've said we'll organise it?

D14, autistic, SPD has been given a placement at an independent specialist. Nearest mainstream said they could still meet need (though they have to say that, right?) so we've had to agree to transport my daughter. Daughter lives with dad (my ex) and he now says he can't transport every day (he's a lecturer and his work can't put all his lectures during her school hours). I'm 90 minutes away and disabled. The EHCP is still in draft as moved from one LA to current after draft received and EHCP is vague and missing huge amount of necessary detail. Annual Review to be held 6 weeks into first term to transfer ECHP into new LA's format etc. Main issue for my daughter is environment so mainstream could meet academic need but she'd not be able to attend as she needs a small, quite setting. Is there any point trying to appeal this? Do I wait until the Annual Review and hope the EHCP is more detailed and therefore it's easier to prove that the mainstream can't meet need? Very frustrated that I've worked for a year to get her an EHCP and a suitable placement for her to risk losing it!

Answer Now

A: SenseCheck

  • 1 Yes
  • 0 No
  • 1 Other


  • 25 Aug 2023
  • Yes


    This may be somewhat more straightforward than you expect, albeit I do not underestimate your frustration.

    I am assuming your question is "Can we appeal for a place at an independent  (specialist) school for your daughter if we've previously said we'll organise transport but can no longer do so". This is why I have answered Yes. If this is not your question, change this to: cant answer yes or no. 

    Firstly, I believe Aaron's analysis is typically solid and helpful and his answer should be considered alongside mine.

     However, it's important to note that D14's Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCp) is currently in draft form. It's not clear how much detail is missing, but it's crucial for sections B and F to be comprehensive and aligned, as laid out in chapters 7 and 8 of the Noddy Guide. Without a clear identification of all your daughter's special educational needs and the corresponding special educational provisions she requires, it becomes challenging for any school to confidently determine if they can "meet need."

    Generally, mainstream schools should not face issues in meeting needs. However, some special educational provision may pose challenges within a specific mainstream school setting. If you have expert evidence recommending a "small, quiet setting," this could present difficulties for the particular mainstream school in question to provide. In such cases, this can be brought to the attention of the Local Authority (LA) and its significance in terms of placement can be pointed out.

     It follows that the LA will provide transport to the nearest school that can meet your daughters needs. Transport costs are an issue which can determine placement,  but when working out comparative school transport costs I suggest that the LA should be asked to look at the marginal cost (additional expense of providing transport for  the child/young person in question) to each school under consideration, not the total cost in each case. 

    It may be advisable to focus on refining your daughter's EHCp, ensuring that sections B and F are as complete and accurate as possible. This will likely provide a better platform for advocating for your preference. 

    As for the transport issue, it is unfortunate what has happened, but it is a reality. It doesn't preclude you from appealing to the First-tier Tribunal (FtT) if you cannot reach an agreement with the LA regarding the contents of your daughter's EHCp - including placement.

    For completeness,  I would also refer you to the following in the Noddy Guide Q: 02.16 If a CYP moves into another LA area, does the EHC Plan transfer to the new LA?

    I hope this explanation clarifies matters, but please comment further if you need more assistance. I certainly look forward to reading the contributions of others.


    Sean Kennedy

    Sean Kennedy
    Talem Law

  • 25 Aug 2023
  • Other


    Can't answer yes or no.:

    I'm not sure I can authoritatively answer the latter parts of the question, so will leave that to others. However, I'm happy to answer this part of the query:

    'Nearest mainstream said they could still meet need (though they have to say that, right?)'

    When asked if they can meet a pupil's needs, mainstream schools can (and often do) say no. The rules for saying yes/no are in the SEND Code of Practice (2015). They are at paragraph 9.79. I'll paste it here in case other users need it:

    "9.79 If a child’s parent or a young person makes a request for a particular nursery, school or post-16 institution in these groups the local authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless:
    • it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
    • the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources

    Efficient education means providing for each child or young person a suitable, appropriate education in terms of their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have. Where a local authority is considering the appropriateness of an individual institution, ‘others’ is intended to mean the children and young people with whom the child or young person with an EHC plan will directly come into contact on a regular day-to-day basis."

    Aaron King

    Aaron King
    9000 Lives SEND Consultancy