Special Educational Needs and challenging unsuitable EHCP’s

Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors
March 20, 2024

The education sector as a whole is currently seeing an increase in schools being named in a child’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan despite the school being wholly unsuitable for the child’s needs. This is a challenge in respect of which we are increasingly being asked to provide support and advice to schools.

In order to manage these requests successfully, there are a number of matters which schools need to ensure are considered and set out clearly and robustly in the consultation response to the local authority. For example, schools must ensure that the response relies on the key legal grounds set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the special educational needs and disability (SEND) Code of Practice; failure to get this stage right may ultimately lead to the school being named in the final Plan, at which point the school will have a duty to admit the child.

If your school is experiencing this challenge you certainly are not alone. To support schools in managing this issue, we have created a SEN Workshop for academies and maintained schools designed to guide your school in managing this challenging issue, ensuring that you comply with the requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014 and Department for Education guidance, whilst protecting your school’s existing community, resources and ultimately the needs of the child.

SEN Workshop

The SEN Workshop covers the following topics, and can be provided in-person or online by our specialist education team:

  • The EHCP consultation process
  • Navigating the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Conduct
  • Practical considerations, including reasonable adjustments and the risks of not admitting the child
  • Challenging an unsuitable placement based on the applicable grounds:
    • unsuitability for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child concerned, and/or
    • incompatibility with the efficient education of others, and/or the efficient use of resources
  • Applicability of recent case law in respect of consideration to be made by the local authority
  • Making a complaint to the Secretary of State
  • Judicial review

We will also be covering this topic, along with other issues that will affect maintained schools and academies both now and into the future, in more detail during our HCR and ISBL joint Spring Conference on the 24 April 2024. Further details of the Spring Conference can be found here.

In the meantime, you may also find it helpful to listen to brief overview of key points in our recent podcast covering this topic.

If you would be interested in our SEN Workshop, or if you would like our support in challenging a placement or making a complaint to the Secretary of State, please get in touch with Emma Swann at eswann@hcrlaw.com.