Finding a school if your child has SEN and has an education, health and care (EHC) plan

If your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan, you do not fill in an application form on the Wandsworth Council website. Instead, your child’s EHC co-ordinator in the special needs assessment section (SNAS) will contact the nursery, primary, or secondary school, you are interested in.

If your child already has an EHC plan or been issued with a draft or proposed amended EHC plan, and is not going through reception or secondary transfer, please read our page on EHC plans and scroll down to the subheading “When you receive an EHC plan.”

Types of nurseries, schools, and colleges

There are different types of nurseries, schools, and colleges, for example:

Mainstream nurseries, schools/colleges

Mainstream nurseries, schools, and colleges provide an education for all children/young people, including those with SEND.

Maintained (state) nurseries/schools

Maintained nurseries and schools are funded by the local authority, which includes community, foundation, and voluntary aided nurseries/schools. These can be mainstream or special schools.

Academies/Free schools

Academies and free schools are state-funded independent schools. They are set up by sponsors from business, faith, or voluntary groups in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE). They receive money directly from the Government but are not maintained by LA.

SEN units/resource bases

SEN units and resource bases are attached to mainstream schools and usually provide support for children/young people with certain types of SEN (for example, autism). Children and young people will usually need an EHC plan to access these.

Special schools/colleges

Special schools and colleges provide education for children and young people with SEN. Children or young people will usually need an EHC plan to go to one of these schools/colleges.

Independent schools/colleges

Non maintained schools are fee-paying schools/colleges that are not funded by local authority or government. Some are run by charities (and therefore, “not for profit”) whereas some are private “for-profit” owners.

These types of school/colleges will admit children/young people with or without EHC plan. Some of these schools are approved by the government, please read The law on choosing a school if your child has an EHC plan.

Section 41 schools

These are independent special schools which have been approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 of the Children and Families Act (“C&FA”) 2014

Other types of education providers

There are also other types of education providers, for example:

Pupil Referral Units

Pupil Referral Units are for children who need to be educated out of school, often because they have been excluded. They have the same legal status as schools in some ways but do not have to teach the national curriculum.

Alternative Provision

Alternative Provision is education arranged by local authorities for children who, because of suspensions or permanent exclusions, illness, or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education. This type of provision can also be for pupils being directed by schools to off-site provision to improve their behaviour.

Reception or secondary transfer

If your child is due to go through reception or secondary transfer (moving to year 7) the local authority (LA) must follow certain steps, which includes, looking at your child’s EHC plan to make sure their needs and the support they require for reception or secondary school is included in the plan. This will need to happen during an annual review of their EHC plan.

The steps are:

  • Nursery or Year 5 Annual Review is held, to consider if changes need to be made to EHC plan, if agreed
  • The local authority then updates the EHC plan
  • The EHC co-ordinator in the SEN team (SNAS) will usually let you know September onwards, when your deadline is to tell them, which school/s you are interested in. You can put forward one or more names of school/s because there is no legal limit. We advise that you only put down schools that you would want your child to attend.
  • The EHC co-ordinator consults with the school/s (*government approved schools) that you have expressed an interest/s in
  • By 15 February of the year your child starts reception class or secondary school (year 7) - the local authority must send you a copy of the Final Amended EHC plan with the name of the school they will be attending from September
  • Your child’s current nursery/school with the named reception class/secondary school then plans their transition into reception class/year 7 with you

If you child already attends a Primary or Secondary school and you want to change their school

If you would like to change your child’s school which they are already attending and is named in their EHC plan, you will need to speak to the school and the local authority (their EHC co-ordinator in the SNAS team) about this first.

We would advise that you make this request during the annual review of your child’s EHC plan.

For information about what happens if the local authority agree to change the name of the school’s name in your child’s EHC plan - please read our information on EHC annual reviews.

The Law on choosing a school if your child has an EHC plan

You have the right to request the following types of nurseries, reception, or secondary schools to be named in your child's EHC plan:

  • A maintained school or nursery (mainstream or special school). These are schools that are funded by the local authority
  • An Academy or free school (mainstream or special)
  • A non-maintained special school. These are charitable foundations and “not for profit” schools
  • A Section 41 school. These are independent schools or specialist colleges that have been approved by the Secretary of State (Government)

The local authority must consult the above schools if you ask them to (the school does not have to be a Wandsworth school), which means you can ask for a school in a different borough.

The local authority must name one of the above types of schools (if the school you want is from the list above) unless it can prove one of the following:

  • It would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of your child or young person, or
  • The attendance of your child or young person there, would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or use of resources

Independent Schools (that are not non-maintained or Section 41 schools)

You can ask the local authority to consider a request for an independent school that is not a non-maintained or Section 41 school, although this is not a right.

If you request the local authority to consult an independent school, please ensure you have a confirmed offer of a place from this type of school.

Choosing a mainstream or special school

If your child or young person has SEN and an EHC plan, they can attend either a mainstream or special school.

Mainstream schools

Most children are educated in a mainstream school, if you want your child to continue to or attend a mainstream school, the local authority must not disagree on the basis that mainstream is unsuitable, or that your child’s needs or disabilities are too great or complex.

This means the local authority can only refuse to name a mainstream school in your child's EHC plan, if this placement would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, and there are no reasonable steps the local authority could take to avoid this.

Find out more about the right to a mainstream education.

School lists

Please follow the relevant links below, depending on your child’s age (the admissions criteria for each school in these brochures do not apply to your child because they have an EHC plan) for a list of mainstream schools:

Special schools

You can ask for a special school/college for your child or young person, if they have an EHC plan.

We have produced lists of special educational needs (SEN) schools, which specialise in specific needs, to support you to find an appropriate school if your child has an EHC plan.

Please note: We are an impartial service, so we do not make recommendations or endorse individual schools on our lists.

Our school lists are designed to give you an idea of what is available in and outside of the borough of Wandsworth. These lists do not include the names of every school and we cannot guarantee that all the schools listed are suitable for your child or young person or the details are up to date.

School details can change quickly and although we try to update our school lists every year, some details may have become outdated.

We have also included links to school search websites, on our lists, so that you can do your own search for the type of school or the area you are looking for.

We suggest that you visit and check the school’s latest Ofsted Inspection report, by visiting the Ofsted website.

Communication and interaction difficulties (ASD and speech and language difficulties)

Cognition and learning difficulties

Social, emotional, and mental health difficulties

Moderate learning difficulties

Severe/profound and multiple learning difficulties

Sensory needs, physical disability and/or complex medical needs

Section 41 school information

Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014, allows the Secretary of State to publish a list of approved independent special schools and post-16 institutions. View the list of independent schools for pupils with special educational needs, including those approved under section 41 of the Children and Families Act.

Useful information: 

If your child has an EHC plan, they do not have to sit the year 6 test however if you or your child would like to, please speak to your child’s primary school.

If the local authority does not name the school you asked for in the final EHC plan please read our information on challenging decisions and appealing.

Other school search sites

The websites below offer help and support for parents searching for schooling for their children and young people:

School checklists

We have put the following checklists to support you, with some points to consider, and questions you may want to ask when visiting a primary or secondary school:

Where can I get more information on choosing a school?

If you have any questions or want more information, support, or advice about finding a school you can: