Moving to a new phase of education – children and young people with SEN 07/09/2017 02:58

With the start of a new term, it will soon be decision time for those moving on to a new phase of their education at the end of this school year (in particular, children who are now in year 6 who will be moving on to secondary school, and those coming to the end of secondary school who are moving on to post-16 education and training).

Some key things to remember are:

  • Read up on prospective schools/colleges – especially their SEN Information Reports.  Speak to the SENCOs (or SEN Support leads if it is a college) and ask what kind of support might be available. You can find more information on what schools and colleges should be providing through SEN Support on our page about schools' duties.
  • If the child/young person has an EHC plan you should get a date for an annual review in the diary in the first term of this year, in order for the local authority (“LA”) to comply with the statutory deadlines for amending the EHC plan.  If you haven’t heard anything from the LA, speak to the SENCO at your school or contact the LA SEND team.  Make a note of the deadlines that the final amended EHC plan must be issued by (usually March 31 for those moving to post-16 and 15 February for other phase transfers).
  • If the child/young person has an EHC Plan, then LAs must not make them go through the usual schools admissions process. An EHC plan gives the parent or young person a strong right to request their preferred school, and in most cases the LA must agree unless they can give acceptable reasons why the child or young person should not attend that school. For more information, see our page on choosing a school.
  • Additionally, LAs cannot require parents/carers or young people to make requests for placements or express preferences until after the annual review meeting, when they send out proposed amendments to the EHC Plan.  We are aware that some LAs (for example, Surrey) do ask parents to express preferences for schools prior to an annual review.This is not a legal requirement and they must allow parents/carers and young people to request a particular school when they send notice of proposed amendments to the Plan after the annual review carried out ready for the transfer to a new phase of education.

IPSEA’s Advice Line volunteers can advise if you need more information or help.

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IPSEA is now able to offer free and independent legally based SEN advice at Face to Face sessions organised in conjunction with the Pen Green Centre for children and families (

For information on how to book a session please click here.