Some mainstream schools have specialist units or resource bases attached to the mainstream school. Usually, a child or young person will need to have an EHC plan to access this provision. How this should be reflected in the child or young person’s EHC plan depends on whether it is a separate institution to the mainstream school or not.

The first step is to check on the Department for Education’s register of schools and colleges in England. Is the specialist unit or resource base listed as a separate institution?

If it is listed as a separate institution:

The name of the specialist unit or resource base should be included in Section I of the child’s EHC plan.

A parent or young person can request that this setting is named and the LA must name it unless certain limited conditions apply.

It is also advisable to include details of the type of support the child will receive in Section F – the part detailing the special educational provision required.

If it is not listed as a separate institution:

The majority of units and bases are not separate schools or institutions, but are units within a mainstream school. This means it should not be named in Section I of the EHC plan, but should instead be described in Section F. The parent or young person should request that the mainstream school is named, and again the LA must name it unless certain limited conditions apply.

It is essential that Section F of the EHC plan includes a description of the special education provision that is available at the unit or base, for example small class teaching, onsite speech and language or occupational therapy, or specially trained staff. Without a clear description in Section F, a child could end up being placed in the mainstream school within which the unit is based, but not having any access to the unit. You can read more about what an EHC plan should contain here.

Some local authorities are willing to name a unit or base in Section I of an EHC plan even where it is not a separate institution. However if a parent has to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the “SEND Tribunal”) to ensure their child’s access to the unit, it is especially important that the appeal includes Sections B and F of the EHC plan as the SEND Tribunal will not be able to order the LA to name the unit in Section I. 

You can read more about choosing a school or college here.