SEND and moving from primary to secondary school - guidance for professionals

Information and advice for professionals on transferring a child with SEND from primary to secondary school.

If a child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP), the annual review meeting in Year 5 is a good time to talk about plans for moving to secondary school and to discuss transport arrangements.

In October of Year 6, you will need to decide which secondary or special school they would prefer the child to go to.

The casework officer should then send you an amended education, health and care plan (EHCP) by 15 February, naming their Year 7 placement.

Choosing a school

Parents/carers should try to go to the school open days, which are usually in September or October. You can find out the dates on the school's website or by phoning the school's receptionist.

Each school should have information on their website, including their latest Ofsted report, or you can ask for a copy of the school's prospectus.

They can talk to the special education needs co-ordinator (SENCo) on the open day and, if you wish, make an appointment to discuss the child in more depth in a confidential environment.

Applying for a place at a mainstream school

You have to apply for a child's place at a mainstream school. You can do this in two ways.

  1. Complete the form on the apply for a secondary school place page. The school admissions section contains lots of information to help with the process.
  2. Alternatively, you can contact us for a copy of the admissions form.

These are the only ways you can apply for a school place.

If a child needs a place at a special school

It may be recommended that a child go to a special school. Places at special schools are given to children with complex needs who have an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

Parents/carers can ask their special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) or Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS) co-ordinator how to apply for a place at a special school.

They should also apply for a place at the mainstream school they prefer and explain on the form that the child is being considered for a place at a special school.

If a child already attends a special school

If a child is already on the roll at a special school, in Years 5 and 6 the school and casework officer will discuss with you whether the special school is still suitable to meet the child's needs for his or her secondary education.

Parents and carers still have a right to submit an admissions form requesting a change of placement or stating they would like their child to remain at the same special school.

If you are not sure what type of school would be best for the child, arrange to discuss the concerns as early as possible and allow time to visit different schools more than once if necessary. Your Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS) co-ordinator can help with these arrangements and accompany on school visits.

Appealing the place a child is given

If parents/carers are not happy with the school place the child has been given, they can appeal the placement. They should speak to the SEND casework officer or co-ordinator if they wish to appeal the placement.

There is also information about the appeals process on the school admissions appeals page.

Making sure a secondary school will be able to meet the child’s needs

If the child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP), secondary school special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCos) should visit the primary school to meet the child and talk about the child's needs with their primary school teachers and teaching assistants.

If the child has particular difficulties and you feel extra visits to the secondary school will help prepare him or her, parents/carers should talk to the primary school special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) about this. Sometimes a teaching assistant can be released to accompany a child to reassure him or her and to pass relevant tips and information to the secondary school staff. Additional visits can often help to reassure the child that steps will be taken to ensure support is in place before the child starts the secondary school.

More information

Copies of the special educational needs (SEN) code of practice are available from the GOV.UK Special educational needs and disability (SEND) web page.