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Special Educational Needs: Private Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Lord Lexden Lord Lexden Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of section 63 of the Children and Families Act 2014 in ensuring that parents of children with special educational needs or a disability are able to choose an independent school if that is their wish.

Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Section 63 of the Children and Families Act (2014) sets out the local authority’s duty to pay fees for special educational provision where an institution, including an independent institution, is named in a final education, health and care (EHC) plan.

The process by which parents’ wishes are considered is, instead, set out within the ‘Special Educational Needs & Disabilities 0-25 Code of Practice’, attached, and under section 39 of the Children and Families Act (2014).

Chapter 9 in the ‘Special Educational Needs & Disabilities 0-25 Code of Practice’ sets out the duties of local authorities and the rights of parents regarding the naming of schools in EHC plans. When a local authority is finalising an EHC plan, parents can ask for a particular school to be named in the plan. This can be any maintained nursery school; maintained school; any form of academy or free school (mainstream or special); non-maintained special school; independent special school or independent specialist college, where they have been approved for this purpose by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, under section 41 of the Children and Families Act (2014). These schools are published in the section 41 list, which is available to all parents and young people.

The local authority must name the parent’s or young person’s choice of school in the EHC plan unless the school would be unsuitable for the child or young person’s age, ability, aptitude or special educational need or unless the child or young person’s attendance would be incompatible with the efficient education of others or the efficient use of resources.

The child’s parent or the young person may also make representations for places at independent schools, independent colleges or other post-16 providers that are not on the section 41 list. However, these schools are not obliged to admit children with EHC plans and local authorities are not under the same conditional duty to name these schools in EHC plans.

As at January 2019, there were 17,362 children and young people with EHC plans in independent schools. This figure represents 4.9% of all children and young people with an EHC plan.

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