Do we have discretion in choosing secondary place for child with EHCP?

We are about to give a list of schools for local authority to consult for our ASD/ADHD daughter with EHCP. A number of specialist Austistic schools have told us she wouldn't be suitable as she has a PDA profile. We feel mainstream ARP provision would be overwhelming and current trend towards school refusal would continue/deteriorate; there are in any case hardly any places available locally. LA have said if we get no offers from anywhere then she will just be placed in mainstream. What are the options when/if this process hits a dead end?


Patrick Clifton
10 Oct 2023
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  • 11 Oct 2023
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    Too fact specific, I can't generalise.:

    Mr. Clifton, if you are enquiring about your ability to choose the school for your daughter, I regret to inform you that the decision is not entirely at your discretion.

    In determining the educational placement for your daughter, a structured process is followed. Fortunately, this process and its variations are comprehensively detailed in Chapter 09 of the Noddy Guide and you should review this. The following may assist:

    09.12 Can parent’s/young person request a particular placement?

     09.29 Can the LA/FTT decide to name a special school just because it thinks that would be suitable, rather than a mainstream school requested by the ...

    You do, however, have the freedom to propose which schools should be considered by the LA (or FTT standing in their shoes).

    Regarding the other aspects of your query, and I mean no criticism, you mention how you "feel" about one potential placement. This raises the possibility of whether all your daughter's special educational needs have been appropriately identified in her EHCP, and also if all the necessary special educational provision to meet these needs have been precisely specified and quantified.

    The following excerpts from the Noddy Guide may provide some clarity:

    07.01 Are there particular rules about whether a child or young person has special educational needs?

    07.05 Does Section F have to tie in with Section B?

    08.02 Is there a rule specifying what counts as SEP?

    08.14 Does the SEP in section F of an EHCP have to be set out in detail?

    09.01 Is it permissible to decide on placement (section I) and then fit the SEP (section F) around that?

    Concerning the statement, "The LA has mentioned that if we receive no offers from any other institutions, she will be placed in mainstream." This course of action would only be possible if her placement in the mainstream school is not incompatible with the efficient education of other pupils she will be educated with. If it were, she could only be placed at the mainstream school if there were reasonable steps that could  be taken to remove this  incompatibility. Furthermore, all the special educational provision she requires would need to be implemented (or made) in the mainstream school. If this raises uncertainties about placing her in a mainstream school, it again underscores the importance of ensuring that Sections B and F of her EHCp are accurately drafted.

    Should you find yourself at an impasse, the most apparent recourse is to seek the assistance of the  FTT. If your daughter is set to transition in September 2024, her EHCp must be amended no later than 15th February 2024 to reflect the secondary school, or at the very least, the type of school the LA deems she should attend in September 2024. This amendment will provide you with the opportunity to initiate an appeal to the FTT. If you do decide to appeal, it is suggested you clearly specify that this is a “transition appeal” and request a hearing to be scheduled well in advance of September 2024.

    I trust this information proves helpful, and I anticipate the valuable contributions of others on this matter.


    Sean Kennedy

    Sean Kennedy
    Talem Law