Education Legal services for Families, in particular, Special Educational Needs & Disability
Education Lawyers

School admissions and placements

The outcome of school applications is a massive step in your child’s school journey. The waiting period can be an anxious time for many parents. School admission announcements are made on 16th April for primary school places and 1st March for secondary school.

It can be daunting to make sure you find the right school or college placement for your child or young person with SEND. Sometimes, the school you prefer refuses a place, says it’s full, or seems reluctant to take them. The school may even suggest you try a different school because they “can’t support them.”

Note: Children and young people with an EHCP cannot be refused a place at the state-funded school named in their plan.

Admissions and placement


Parents can express a preference for the state-funded school they wish their child to go to, even if it’s not in the same local authority area in which they live. Unless they have an EHCP with that school named, this doesn’t mean their place is guaranteed, however. Every school has admissions rules and policies if they are oversubscribed, with criteria that depend on the type of school it is. All state-funded schools, including Academies, must comply with the government’s Schools Admissions Code. Local authorities must adhere to a Fair Access Protocol for outside of normal admissions time.

2.8 With the exception of designated grammar schools, all maintained schools, including schools designated with a religious character, that have enough places available must offer a place to every child who has applied for one, without condition or the use of any oversubscription criteria.

DfE School Admissions Code 2014

3.13 Admission authorities must not refuse to admit a child thought to be potentially disruptive, or likely to exhibit challenging behaviour, on the grounds that the child is first to be assessed for special educational needs.

DfE School Admissions Code 2014

If your child does not have an EHCP and has been refused a place at your chosen school, you can appeal the decision. If you think your child has been unfairly denied a place, we may be able to help. We can look at the facts of your case and discuss potential ways forward and how we can assist you with this.


If you are searching for the right specialist school for your child to meet their needs, you may be limited by your time available to search, your knowledge of the sector, type of school, or their admissions criteria.

Because of our work, we have accumulated a vast knowledge of schools and colleges in the specialist and independent sector and have many contacts within it. We will be able to look at your child or young person’s EHCP or any SEND reports you have and help you to narrow down suitable placements.

We may also be able to liaise with the school or with the local authority to help you secure the right placement.

Read our FAQs about school admissions and placement

Get in touch and see how we can help your child find the school that’s right for them!

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