Secondary Transfer for Children with SEND

The aim of this information is to help parents of children with Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans who are coming up to secondary transfer. This is because secondary transfer arrangements work in a slightly different way for your child.

Islington mainstream secondary schools

Choosing the right secondary school for your child

  1. Talk to your child – involve them as much as you can.

  2. Think about what is right for your child – don’t rely on what others tell you or what you read on parenting websites.

  3. Check the school website – you’ll find them in each school’s listing in our directory.

  4. Visit schools – contact the school for visiting dates. You can speak to teachers, ask questions and get a feel for the school.

  5. Think about the journey – how easy will it be to get to the school? Some schools may be further away but are easier to get to.

Secondary Schools outside Islington will have their own admission arrangements. You can find out information about these schools by visiting the school’s website or phoning either the school itself or the Local Authority for the area the school is in. 

Some secondary schools may use a test to help them apply their published admissions criteria - the school will be able to give you more details of what the test involves.

Special schools for secondary-aged pupils

There are a number of special schools who take secondary-aged children with particular special educational needs. To go to one of these schools your child must have an Education, Health and Care plan that names that school. Find further information about Islington special schools special schools.

If you want information about special schools outside of Islington, or if you want any other information or advice, you can contact our SEND Community Support Service.

Transfer Arrangements for September 2024 Admissions

For Children with an EHC Plan (or Statement)

We must name your child’s secondary school in their EHC Plan by 15 February 2024. This is so that there will be plenty of time for their current school and new school to plan the transfer with you. We will start to write to secondary schools at the end of September 2023 to ask them if they can offer your child a place to start the following year.  We call this process ‘consulting’ with the secondary schools.

In Feb 2023 we will send you the Secondary Transfer Preference Form. You can list up to six secondary school choices on the form. The form must be returned to us no later than 10 September 2023. If we receive the form later than that date, it may not be possible to consult with your preferred school and make any necessary amendments to your child's EHC Plan in good time.

You should visit all the schools you might like your child to go to. It is a good idea to make an appointment to meet with the SENCo or Inclusion Manager at the school to ask them about how they would plan to meet your child’s needs.  You should fill out any relevant application forms for each school (Faith schools, Academies and Free Schools may require supplementary information  forms) and you should put on the form that your child has an EHC Plan.

It is a good idea to identify at least three schools (you can name up to six) in case your child does not get a place in your preferred school. If you identify more than one school, this will not in any way reduce your chance of getting a place at your first choice school. If you only name one school however and do not get offered a place, further choices may then be much more limited.

What the law says

The 1996 Education Act (Schedule 27) says that Parents have the right to say which maintained secondary school they would prefer for their child. The Local Authority must comply with your wishes unless:

  • The school is considered unsuitable to your child’s age, ability, aptitude or SEN
  • Your child's attendance would negatively affect the efficient education of the other children being educated with the child
  • It is not an efficient use of public resources

Section 316 of the Education Act says that the local authority must make sure that a child with an EHC Plan /  Statement is educated in a mainstream school unless a parent says they do not want their child to go to a mainstream school. A mainstream school can only refuse a child if they can prove that this would incompatible with the efficient education of other children and there are no reasonable steps they or the Local Authority could take to prevent this.

The EHC Review Meeting

You will have the opportunity to discuss the kind of secondary school you would like your child to attend at the Review of their EHC Plan in Year 5. It is important for you to go to this Review where any questions you might have about secondary transfer will be answered. Your child’s Review will almost certainly be held before you have had an opportunity to visit school open days/evenings and you might change your mind after visiting schools.  If you change your mind and you have already completed and submitted your preference form, you must let your SEND Keyworker know so they can update your preferences.

The summer term 2023 is a good time to arrange visits to meet with the SENCo/Inclusion Manager at your preferred secondary schools.  You can ask someone from your child’s primary school to help you arrange these visits if you wish. You will have the opportunity to visit again with your child at the open days in September.  Remember you will need to send us your Secondary Transfer preference form listing your school choices by 10 September 2023.  The local authority must always consider your wishes and also has to balance this against the cost and compatibility factors outlined above.

The Final Plan

We will send you a finalised Plan by 15 February 2024 naming your child’s secondary school placement for September 2024. The secondary school will contact you before the summer break to give you more information about your child starting at their school.

If we have not been able to find a place for your child at the school you prefer, it is always possible to find a place at another school. Occasionally, even after working with their SEND Keyworker and the Educational Psychologist, parents do not agree with the school named in the child’s Plan. The final Plan must still be issued by 15 February 2024 in these circumstances, so it may name a school you are not happy with. But once the Plan is issued, you will have the right to appeal to the first Tier (SEND) Tribunal. As the final Plan is issued in February, this gives parents every chance of having their tribunal appeal heard by the end of the summer term so that the matter is settled before September.

Information and Advice

Secondary transfer for children with EHC Plans can sometimes become complex. If you would like information, please talk to your child’s Primary School or your SEND Keyworker. If you would like further objective information and support you can also call the SEND Community Support Service

During early autumn of each year colleagues from our School Admissions Team also visit Islington primary schools to explain the procedures, and would be pleased to answer any queries about Islington secondary schools, but remember when your child has an EHC plan you do not need to apply for a place via the online school admissions application system.


Some frequently asked questions:

What information should I ask for about SEND in secondary schools?

  • Information about the special needs/inclusion policy.
  • The name of the teacher with overall responsibility for special educational needs (usually called the SENCo or Inclusion Manager).
  • Information about how the school works closely with parents.
  • Details or the arrangements of how additional help is given e.g. will my child be supported in the classroom or will he/she receive small group or individual support out of the classroom?

How will the school know about my child’s special educational needs?

  • The LA will send your child’s new school a copy of the finalised amended EHC Plan, setting out the objectives of the provision.
  • The secondary school SENCo could be invited to the EHC Review in Year 6.
  • The LA will also send the new school a copy of the latest EHC Review report, together with the latest reports provided by professionals working with your child.

What happens if my child has SEN but does not have an EHC Plan?

  • You must apply online in the usual way as all other children without EHC Plans.
  • Applications will be considered on the basis of the school’s published admissions criteria.
  • A school cannot refuse to admit a child on the grounds that he or she has SEND or does not have an EHC Plan.
  • Once you know which school your child will be going to, it is good practice for the SENCo of the new school to contact the SENCo of the current school to find out about the pupil’s needs.

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