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Applying for secondary school places for children with an education, health and care plan

Find out how to apply for a secondary school place if your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Find out how to apply for a secondary school place if your child has an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

By law, the secondary transfer process is different for children with an EHC plan. This applies to both mainstream and special schools. If your child does not have an EHC plan, you need to apply for a secondary school place using the central admissions process.

Download our guidance on applying for secondary schools.

Complete your secondary transfer preference form

The submission deadline is on Monday 16 October 2023.

Complete form
Applying for a secondary school place

Parents and carers of children and young people who have an EHC plan can express preferences for a secondary school place using this process.  We always try to place a child or young person with SEND at a school in their local community. However, in exceptional circumstances, we may consider placing a child or young person outside of their local community.

On your secondary transfer preference form, you have the right to request preferences for a particular school, college or other institution that is:
a maintained school or any form of academy or free school (mainstream or special)

  • non-maintained special school
  • an independent school or independent specialist college that has been approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State.

See a list of independent educational institutions, independent special schools and post-16 institutions on GOV.UK.

Specialist provision and specialist schools

Most children with an EHC plan can be supported in a mainstream school in the borough. However, if a child has particularly complex SEND, they may need specialist provision in a mainstream school or a specialist school.

Specialist provision in mainstream schools

Some children and young people with complex SEND can be taught in specialist provision in a mainstream school, which offers them:

  • the opportunity to maximise their educational potential and integrate into mainstream teaching in a local setting
  • the opportunity to have their teaching and learning needs met appropriately through the support of specialist teachers
  • effective strategies, equipment, programmes or other interventions.

This will help children make progress towards the desired learning and development outcomes and support their transition into mainstream settings.
There are four mainstream secondary schools in the borough that offer specialist provision. These schools are allocated through the admission process above, based on multi-agency panel discussion and panel recommendations. Each school has its own eligibility criteria and you can go to the schools’ open days or contact your EHCP case officer for more information.

Mainstream schools that offer specialist provision

Download our guidance on mainstream secondary schools that offer specialist provision and the eligibility criteria

Timetable for the secondary school admissions process

April–July (during Year 5)

During the Year 5 annual review meeting at school, there should be a discussion about secondary school transfer. The school should discuss the process for choosing a placement.

During this time, we will send the secondary transfer preference instructions to all parents with children transferring to secondary school that year. You can also this this information from your school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

September–October (during Year 6)

You can go to secondary school open days. If you can’t attend a school open day, you can contact the school directly to arrange a separate meeting or to have a discussion with the appropriate staff member.

Early October (during Year 6)

Confirm your first and second choice of secondary schools with your child’s existing school. You need to complete a special needs secondary transfer form and submit it to your child’s school.


A multi-agency secondary transfer panel will consider the annual review reports for children with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan alongside your secondary school preferences. The multi-agency panel may identify other schools that would be appropriate to consult with based on your child’s needs.


We will contact you with any proposed changes and outline schools to be consulted about a placement for your child. We also invite your feedback on the amendments to the EHC plan.
We will formally consult with the selected schools. The schools will have 15 days to respond.


After the consultation process, we will tell you which school we will name for the young person. If the named school is not your preferred school, we will invite you to discuss the next steps and the most appropriate placement.

15 February

We will send you an amended EHC plan with a named secondary school place, and the current and future school.

If we can't offer you a place at your preferred school

You can’t always get a place at your preferred school. A multi-agency panel will review the preferences you listed on the secondary transfer form and may identify additional schools, which would be appropriate to meet your child’s needs.

We will always consult with your preferred schools, as well as with the additional schools we identify as suitable, e.g. local offer schools. It's important for you to be aware that we can’t guarantee you a place at your preferred school.

We must consult with the governing body, principal or proprietor of the educational institution and consider their comments very carefully before deciding whether to name it in your child’s EHC plan.

The consulted schools will carefully consider the special educational needs of the child or young person. This is to make sure the child or young person:

  • has their identified needs met
  • is supported with achieving their agreed outcomes
  • is placed appropriately in the school


Special Educational Needs

Kaleidoscope Child Development Centre, 32 Rushey Green, London, SE6 4JF

Services for children and young people with SEND

This page is part of the 'local offer' for children and young people with special educational needs

Explore the local offer