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Coronavirus and additional support for learning

What do the changes mean for placing requests?

In this section, we will describe how coronavirus has changed what might happen with your child’s placing request.

For more information on placing requests, for example the reasons why your request may be refused, see our factsheet on School placements. However, please be aware that some things like timescales have changed during the coronavirus, as explained here on our coronavirus webpages.

If you wanted your child to attend a school that is not the school your local authority has suggested, you may have made a placing request to a school of your choice. The law changed on 23/04/2020 to extend some of the normal timescales, giving your local authority more time to decide which school your child should attend while they respond to the coronavirus situation.

If you wanted your child to start at the school at the beginning of the next school year in August, you would have needed to submit your placing request by 15 March 2020. Normally, you would have got a decision by 30 April, however the local authority was given more time to decide because of the coronavirus. They should have decided by no later than the 31 May 2020.

If you still want your child to move to a different school, but you submitted your request after 15 March, the local authority now has three months to decide. If they can, they may still try to decide earlier than this.

If you have not had a decision about your placing request by the new extended timescales, the request is treated as being refused (sometimes called a ‘deemed refusal’). That means you have a few options, including the right to appeal the decision.

One option is to accept the local authority’s decision and for your child to attend the school that the local authority has proposed. You can focus on working with the school to make sure your child will have the support they need when the schools reopen to all pupils. Find out more on our coronavirus webpage on ‘ What support will my child get to prepare for returning to school or nursery?’

You can also request mediation with the local authority to try and reach an agreement about the best way forward for your child. Find out more in our factsheet on Mediation.

Your other option is to appeal the local authority’s decision (as long as you haven’t already appealed a placing request in the last 12 months). When the local authority tells you it has refused your placing request, it must tell you how you can appeal the decision and when you must do this by.

You must still submit your appeal within the normal deadlines – within 28 days if it is to the education appeal committee, or within two months if it is to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.

The law has also been updated to let you submit an appeal by email, so you can submit your appeal from home.

If you do submit an appeal, it may take longer than normal to get a date for your appeal to be heard. There may also be changes to how your appeal is heard, so that health guidance can be followed to help protect us from coronavirus. To find out more, see our pages on the changes to education appeal committees and the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.

We understand that even before the coronavirus, it is not a quick process to make a placing request and wait for a decision from the local authority. Concerns about your child’s education and support may have felt like they have been unresolved for quite some time already. It will be a worrying time if you have now been waiting longer for a decision about your request, or for an appeal if your request was refused. For example, you might be worried about not knowing what school your child should attend in time for the schools re-opening.

Although there are no easy answers to the delays caused by the coronavirus, if you are worried about what should happen with your child’s education and support while you’re waiting on a decision about your placing request, you can speak to your local authority. The local authority should stay in contact with you to explain your options while you wait on a decision on your placing request, or while you are appealing the decision.

There may also be other ways to resolve things with the local authority, like mediation, which may be able to happen more quickly. You can contact our helpline if you would like to discuss your options.

We know some people will be concerned about what these changes mean in practice and how they may affect your child’s education and support.

You can also contact our helpline for further advice, and to discuss what the changes mean for your child’s education and support.

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Contact the Enquire Helpline on 0345 123 2303

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