Special Needs Introduction

Legal references on this page apply to England.

Introduction Home Education and Special Needs

A child or young person has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she — (a)has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or (b)has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions. [Source = Section 20 Children and Families Act 2014] The law on special needs is contained in the Children and Families Act 2014, supplemented by the SEN Regulations. Statutory guidance is contained in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

My survey of home education and special needs found that two thirds of home educated children with special needs didnt have a statement or Plan; over a third had been home educated for more than 2 years; and three quarters of children had previously attended mainstream school. The effect of problems at school can be devastating; school becomes impossible and parents feel they have no choice except to home educate. In some cases home education is perceived a stopgap, but even where a child returns to school, parents don't necessarily expect it to last.

Children with special educational needs may be educated at home. This includes when the child has an EHCP. Parents do not need to ask for permission although if the child is a pupil at a special school the rules are different. Where a child has an Education Health Care Plan and is educated otherwise than at school, EITHER the parent makes the special educational provision OR it is arranged and funded by the local authority (sometimes known as EOTAS) The latter is extremely rare and there are specific conditions which must be met. Once a child is home educated, parents are deemed to have opted out. Read what the SEND Code says about these two types of home education with an EHCP here

The most recent statistics for Education Health and Care Plans derived from SEN2 data were published in June 2022. LINK. To find the number of home educated children with EHCPs, click to expand "Education, Health and Care plans" and scroll down to the sub-heading "Elective home educated" where it states that "Data was collected on elective home education specifically for the first time in 2020. The data for 2022 shows an increase of 12% to 4,100, but the percentage of all EHC plans has remained stable (under 1%)." The table also has numbers for children and young people "Awaiting provision" ie without a school place, plus "Other arrangements by local authority" which may include EOTAS or education otherwise than in school or post-16 institution. NB if you take the option to print the page, including saving as a pdf, the elective home education numbers can be found on page 10.

The fact that a school is named in Section I doesn't mean that the child is automatically registered since it is only the parent who can register the child. See Elective Home Education Guidance for Local Authorities 2019 "8.10 When a home-educated child’s EHC plan names a school, some local authorities instruct the school to add the child’s name to its admission register without the parent’s agreement, with the result that the parent is committing an offence if the child does not attend the school. It is not lawful for a school to do this, and local authorities should ensure that both schools and their own staff know that. It is up to the child’s parent whether to arrange for the child to be registered as a pupil at the school"

Equally, a tribunal directing a particular school to be named does NOT mean the child can't be home educated instead, as indicated by the following case law which was made under previous SEN legislation but Part VI of the Education Act 1996 is unaffected. "The provisions of Part VI of the 1996 Act are such that for there to be a successful prosecution, a parent will not only not be sending the child to the school named in the statement or plan, but will be failing to cause the child to be receiving a sufficient education by another route. There is no obligation on a parent to send a child to the school named in the statement but there is an obligation to secure that the child is properly educated."

The local authority has a duty to review the EHCP at least annually. If you disagree with what your local authority is saying about your child's special needs, you can appeal to the SEN Tribunal. There is a requirement to obtain a mediation certificate before going to tribunal. You can also make a formal complaint about delay or lack of provision which may be escalated to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. Having an EHCP can be useful for getting Access Arrangements in exams, but you will still need to show the "normal way of working." There can be financial reasons to get an EHCP for college at 16.

If you or your child has a disability there are various benefits you may claim, plus Carer's Allowance can be claimed under certain conditions. You don't need an EHCP or specific medical diagnosis in order to claim Disability Living Allowance., since DLA is for children who need more help with daily living or with mobility (getting around) than other children of the same age. Benefits and Work has useful guides for completing various forms and also for appealing decisions. Support organisations for particular conditions or syndromes may also be very helpful - see eg Cerebra's DLA Guide. Contact (previously Contact-a-family) has tips on completing the DLA form. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to help.

At 16 the young person has to claim Personal Independence Payment which has different rules from DLA. Transfer from DLA to PIP is not automatic and the young person will become responsible for making a claim for PIP in their own right although it is possible for a parent/carer to oversee their claim as what is called an "appointee". The young persons's answers may not be helpful. As explained here "Short or monosyllabic answers could in the eyes of the autistic person be perfectly rational responses to a question, but they may have failed to understand that a wider explanation and exposition are necessary. Asking an autistic applicant whether they can do their laundry, for example, may elicit a “yes” as the person knows how to operate a washing machine. What this may disguise is the fact that someone is unable to organise their time to do their washing. For example, J said yes, but he was dependent on his mother visiting at periodic intervals to do it for him, as he could not decide which of his clothes would be classed as clean. When she was ill he wore the same clothes for months. A was asked about his social life and responded that he saw his friends “regularly”. Digging a little deeper revealed Alex would only see the same person about once a month, on their terms."


Related Pages - Special Educational Needs

SEND Code of Practice two types of home education with an EHCP
EHCPs How to get/keep/stop an EHCP
SEN Tribunal
Complaints/Ombudsman
EHCP format What goes in each section of the EHCP
Annual Review EHCP
Personal Budget and Direct Payments for education with EHCP (EOTAS)
Deregistration Taking a child out of school, including special school
Parents Survey home education and special needs
Access Arrangements for exams

Link Reference

This article is http://edyourself.org/articles/senintro.php. The following links to other websites are contained in the article, displayed as citations to aid you in printing the document.

  1. tips http://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/carersallowanceinfo.aspx
  2. here http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2018/03/29/pip-payments-autism-overcoming-challenges-application-proc
    ess/