We’ve had a look at this form online and it says nothing about stating a preference for a special school which is what we believe is what she needs. We thought the process for children with EHC plans was different but the school says it isn’t and we must complete the general preference form in time otherwise there’ll be no places left.

Local authorities (LAs) have a legal duty to review and amend an education, health and care (EHC) plan when a child or young person transfers from one phase of education to another – in this case, from primary to secondary.

For a transfer from primary to secondary school, the annual review must be completed by 15 February in the year of transfer. The process that needs to take place is:

  1. Information must be gathered from you as well as from professionals about the EHC plan, and then circulated two weeks before the annual review meeting. You must receive at least two weeks’ notice of the meeting.
  2. An annual review meeting must take place to discuss the EHC plan.
  3. After the meeting a report of what happened must be written and sent to everyone who went to the meeting or provided information to be discussed.
  4. Within four weeks of the meeting your LA must tell you of its decision to maintain, amend or cease the EHC plan - at phase transfer it will need to be amended to name the new school/setting (or type of setting), the LA must send you details of the changes it plans to make to the EHC plan at the same time as sending you its decision to amend it
  5. Your LA must finalise the EHC plan within eight weeks of the date it sent you the amendments.

In order for the EHC plan to be amended and finalised by 15 February, discussions about transfer need to begin early in the autumn term of the year before transfer to allow plenty of time for the review and amendment process to happen.

You can use our model letter to make a complaint if the LA has not begun the phase transfer in time, and request the review meeting is held without delay.

As part of the annual review process your LA will send you a notice setting out the changes it intends to make to the EHC plan as set out above. You will be able to request the school you want for your daughter. Your LA must agree to your request unless it’s an entirely independent/private school or one of the exceptions set out in the law applies.

If you disagree with your LA’s proposed school, or any other amendments it proposes to make to the EHC plan, you can use our model letter to set out your objections.

It is important the review is concluded well before the end of year 6, because if your LA does not name the school you want in the final EHC plan, you will need to appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You will want the appeal to be concluded in good time for you to prepare for the September term.

It is not uncommon for LAs to ask parents to complete a ‘general preference form’ so their preference(s) can be considered. However, these forms apply to children and young people without EHC plans through separate legislation. Therefore, parents who have children with EHC plans are not required to complete general preference forms.