In Y8, my son has a diagnosis of ASD but has not yet been assessed for an EHCP. We took him out of school last week due to us feeling they can't meet his needs, anxiety around school and bullying. Struggling to decide what would be the best thing to do: he has found the secondary school environment so difficult that he doesn't want to attend a school, but I feel unable to educate him myself. School are scaring me with talk of me keeping him out on unauthorised absence. What would be the best course of action to make him comfortable in school, and keep him in the education system?

Helen Hall

Helen Hall
23 Jan 2024

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A: SenseCheck

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  • 04 Feb 2024
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    Can't answer yes or no.:

    Ms. Hall,

    I extend my sympathies for the challenges your son is currently facing. This situation is undoubtedly difficult, particularly for him.

    I must emphasise that while we cannot provide specific legal advice on this platform. That said,  I am willing to offer suggestions that others may wish to expand on. My assumption is that your son was attending a mainstream school before his withdrawal.

    First and foremost, you mentioned that your son has not undergone an assessment for an Education, Health, and Care plan (EHCP) yet. If neither you nor anyone else has initiated a request for commencing an EHC needs assessment, I strongly recommend considering this step. Your rights in this regard and the criterion that must be met are explained in the Noddy Guide:

    05.01 Are there any particular rules about when an LA has to undertake statutory assessment of a child or young person’s SEN?

    Please note that the Noddy guide uses the term 'statutory assessment' rather than EHC needs assessment, although they refer to the same process, the former being slightly older terminology .

    The EHC needs assessment is the sole means by which you can identify your son's needs and the necessary provision he requires. Its significance cannot be overstated.

    Assuming your application for an EHC needs assessment is successful, you will still need to address your son's education during the assessment process. If your son is unable to attend school, and you possess or obtain relevant expert evidence justifying his school absence, you can request the Local Authority (LA) to provide suitable education under the Education Act 1996, section 19. You can find some further details on this matter here:

    09.339 Is the LA’s duty to provide suitable education under EA 1996 s19 the same as EOTAS under CFA 2014 s61? 

    Additionally, the following recent guidance will be of assistance:

    Arranging education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs

    For the sake of completeness, I must mention that you have the option to homeschool your son, which would prevent the concerns you have about the attitude of the School. However, one would hope that such a step is not necessary, if you obtain relevant expert evidence (sic). You can acquire more information about this option by referring to the following non-statutory guidance, which can be accessed HERE.

    I trust this is of some assistance.


    Sean Kennedy

    Sean Kennedy
    Talem Law