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FAQ’s

When should there be a Part-time timetable?

A part-time timetable must not be treated as a long-term plan. The arrangement should always specify an end-date by when it is expected that the child will return to full-time education (or when an alternative will be provided) and be reviewed regularly in the light of any changes to the child’s circumstances.

A temporary part-time timetable should provide a means of achieving re-integration to full-time education. It should never be used as a form of exclusion from school for part of the school day or as permanent provision.

When might a reduced timetable be used?

As part of an in-school support package – School, parent/carer and other professionals agree that a short-term (ideally no longer than 6 weeks) reduced timetable would support a pupil who has become disaffected, to regain success. This would be a closely monitored intervention to address and manage the impact of significantly challenging behaviour or emotional or social needs.

For medical reasons – if a pupil has a serious medical condition, where recovery is the priority outcome. These arrangements would be part of a “medical plan” agreed between the school and health professionals. The Department of Education statutory guidance “Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs” 2013 before offering a reduced timetable for this reason.

Reintegration – as part of a planned reintegration programme into school following for example, an extended period out of school following exclusion, non-attendance, school refusal etc. (ideally no longer than 6 weeks)

Can a school place a pupil on a part-time timetable?

As a rule, no. All pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. In very exceptional circumstances there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet a pupil’s individual needs. For example, where a medical condition prevents a pupil from attending full-time education and a part-time timetable is considered as part of a re-integration package. A part-time timetable must not be treated as a long-term solution.Can a school place a pupil on a part-time timetable?

Any pastoral support programme or other agreement must have a time limit by which point the pupil is expected to attend full-time or be provided with alternative provision.

All children of compulsory school age are legally entitled to receive a suitable full-time education and local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that all children in their area receive such an education. The Local Government Ombudsman has established (in its report Out of school…out of mind (LGO. 2011)) that the number of hours of teaching per week considered to represent full-time education is as follows:

  • Reception and Key Stage 1 (R, Y1 and Y2) – 21 hours
  • Key Stage 2 (Y3 to Y6) – 23.5 hours
  • Key Stage 3 (Y7 to Y9) and Y10 – 24 hours
  • Y11 – 25 hours

The assumption is that pupils should receive full-time education consistent with their Key Stage

A timetable is considered reduced, when it consists of something less than that which is provided to the majority of the pupil’s peers in that setting. As a rule schools are only permitted to provide less than full-time education, including placing a pupil on a part-time timetable, in very exceptional circumstance

What is compulsory school age?

A child is of compulsory school age the 1st term after their 5th birthday. Therefore:

  • Children who turn 5 between 1st January and 31st March will be of compulsory school age at the beginning of the school term after 1st April;
  • Children who turn 5 between 1st April and 31st August will be of compulsory school age at the beginning of the school term after 1st September;
  • Children who turn 5 between 1st September and 31st December will be of compulsory school age at the beginning of the school term after 1st January.

A child remains of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year that they turn 16.

From September 2013 all 16-year olds need to remain in education or training until the end of the academic year and from September 2015 they will be required to continue until their 18th birthday.

What are reasonable adjustments and who can get this support?

Reasonable adjustments are changes made to ensure disabled pupils can participate in their education and enjoy the other facilities that the school provides. Schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to avoid putting disabled at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled pupils as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

The Act says that a pupil has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Physical or mental impairment includes sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing.

Some disabled pupils will also have special educational needs (SEN) and may be receiving support via school-based SEN provision or an education, health and care plan (EHC plan).

The fact that a disabled pupil has an EHC plan does not take away a school’s duty to make reasonable adjustments for that pupil. In practice, of course, many disabled pupils who also have an EHC plan will receive all the support they need through the SEN framework and there will be nothing extra that the school has to do. However, some disabled pupils will not have SEN and some disabled pupils with SEN will still need reasonable adjustments to be made for them, in addition to any support that they receive through the SEN framework.

Schools may have to provide a disabled pupil with:

  • A piece of equipment
  • Assistance from a sign language interpreter,
  • speaker or deaf-blind communicator
  • Extra staff assistance
  • An electronic or manual notetaking service
  • Specialised computer software
  • Extended time for exams.

Is dyslexia IS a ‘special educational need?

Dyslexia IS a special educational need, so in terms of the legal test for EHC assessment the first part is met.

Can a Maintained mainstream school refuse to admit your child if they choose?

The only reason a Maintained Mainstream School can refuse admission of your child would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children AND there are no reasonable steps that can be taken to overcome that incompatibility.

The School Admissions Code of Practice requires children and young people with SEN to be treated fairly. Admissions authorities:

  • Must consider applications from parents of children who have SEN but do not have an EHC plan on the basis of the school’s published admissions criteria as part of normal admissions procedures
  • Must not refuse to admit a child who has SEN but does not have an EHC plan because they do not feel able to cater for those needs
  • Must not refuse to admit a child on the grounds that they do not have an EHC plan.

Further notes

“Efficient education” doesn’t mean the gold standard of education. The LA will have to show that the other children in the class would not receive “a suitable, appropriate education in terms of their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have”.

“Incompatibility” is a high threshold. It is not enough for the LA to show that there would be some adverse effect on the efficient education of other children. Rather, the question is whether any adverse impact would be so great as to be incompatible with the provision of efficient education to other children in the class.

In addition, the LA cannot rely on the efficient education exception unless it can show that that there are no reasonable steps which could be taken to prevent the incompatibility. The SEND Code of Practice lists a number of factors which can help to determine whether a particular step is reasonable, including the extent to which a step would be effective and practical, and how much it would cost.

Will my child only be eligible for an EHCP Assessment if they have an EP report, been through 2 cycles of plan/do/review at SEN support and the school has spent £6000.

The legal test for statutory assessment under the Children and families Act 2014 is;

  • Whether the child/YP has or may have SEN and
  • t may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in an EHCP.

All LAs will have criteria for making decisions on assessment, but these must not impose a higher threshold than the legal test. The LA can reasonably expect the education provider to be able to evidence that they have taken ‘relevant and purposeful action’, under a School’s Best Endeavours Duty (although a lack of this will not necessarily be enough to prove that an EHCP is not necessary). You do not need to have had an Educational Psychology report. An EP assessment is a legal requirement under an EHC Assessment. Any other criterion applied by the LA is irrelevant as the only threshold that applies is the legal test.

Can a young person over 19 can only keep their EHC plan if they are working towards an educational qualification?

Recent case law, Buckinghamshire vs SJ made it clear that not attaining qualifications or only making limited progress does not mean that SEN provision is not needed or of benefit.

Wil my child have an EHC Plan until they are 25 years old?

An EHC plan can continue as long as the young person stays in some kind of education or training (this doesn’t cover higher education), and it is still necessary for the local authority to arrange the extra support they need in order to achieve the educational outcomes set out in their EHC plan.

Will I be refused an EHC Assessment because my child is academically able?

The only relevant consideration for an EHC needs assessment is whether the child or young person has special educational needs and may need an EHCP.

Children and young people, for example with High Functioning Autism (HFA) are likely to have special educational needs. Children with HFA will demonstrate social interaction difficulties, social communication difficulties and rigid thinking.

If your local authority refuses to make an EHC needs assessment purely on the basis of academic achievement, that is failing to address the law properly.

Any blanket policy that states only people who have low academic attainment have a ‘learning disability’ is irrelevant since a person may be ‘disabled’ even if they have a high IQ. In law, a ‘disabled child’ includes people with high-functioning autism, ADHD and personality disorders.

Does my child need a diagnosis to be entitled to any support?

A medical diagnosis is not essential in order to trigger a duty to provide support for a child with SEN. It often takes time to obtain a diagnosis even though it is obvious the child has substantial needs. It would be unlawful for a public body to refuse to provide care and support because there had been no diagnosis.

What do I do If I think my child has SEN?

If you think your child has special educational needs then speak to either the class teacher, the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or the Head Teacher to discuss why you think your child has SEN and what areas of concern you have.

You can ask the school if they are currently providing extra support for to your child and how the school supports children with special educational needs generally. This information should also be available in the school’s SEN Policy and/or the school’s ‘local offer’.

The school should use their Best Endeavours to support your child. If you think the school has made their best efforts but your child is still struggling you can ask the local authority to carry out an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA). If the school agreed with you it is useful to do the application together, you can however, make a parental request without the school.

Does my child have SEN (Special Educational Needs)?

Is your child struggling in school? Has additional support been provided but your child is still struggling and having difficulties accessing learning? If so, they may have special educational needs. If your child is finding it harder to learn than most of their peers and continues to have even with extra support, then they may have special educational needs.

The question needs to be addressed in two stages

Does my child have a learning difficulty or disability?

Your child would be considered to have a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

  • Has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age or
  • Has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 settings.
  • Does my child require special educational provision? (SEP)

    Special educational provision means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that which is generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools, nurseries or post-16 institutions.