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.