Questions on this page:
When do you have to go to school?
Your parents, by law, must make sure that you are educated from when you become of compulsory school age. This is from the term after your fifth birthday. Most parents do this by sending a child to school, but school is not compulsory. You and your parents can choose home education instead if you prefer. If you cannot go to school due to illness, exclusion, or otherwise the Local Authority is responsible for your education.
Compulsory school age finishes on the last Friday in June in the year in which you turn sixteen years old. However, although you no longer have to attend school, from Summer 2013 you will have to remain in education or training until the end of the academic year in which you turn seventeen years old. This will increase from Summer 2015 and you will have to remain in education or training until the end of the academic year in which you turn eighteen years old. If you are born on or after the 1st of September 1998 it is compulsory for you to be in education or training until 18.
Do you get a say in deciding which school you will go to?
Your Local Authority will handle school admissions and your parents or carers should apply to have you admitted into the school of their choosing. There are deadlines for applying to your Local Authority for a school place, and you will be able to find these out from your Local Authority. You can have a say in deciding which school you’d like to go to. However, the Local Authority does not have to admit you into your school of choice, or into the school of your parent’s choice. This may happen if the Local Authority receives more applications than places available to a school. The Local Authority will follow the schools admissions criteria when it receives more applications than places to decide fairly who is admitted and who is not.
If you have special education needs and you have a Statement of Special Educational Needs, or an Education, Health and Care Plan you will be admitted into the school that is named in your Statement at part 4 or plan at section 1. Your parents and you can request which school this is to be, however, again this may not be the one the Local Authority decides to name.
What can you do if you don’t get into the school you want?
If you are not admitted into the school that you, your parents or carers want, your parents or carers will be able to appeal the decision of the admissions authority. The letter that the Local Authority sends your parents or carers telling you which school you have got accepted into will have information about how to make an appeal to the admissions authority of the school which refused you, it will also advise you of the deadline for making an appeal.
Appeals will be heard by an Appeal Panel of at least three members. One of these will be the chair of the panel, with at least one other layperson and at least one person with experience in education. The panel will look to see if the admissions criteria has been correctly applied and at any special circumstances which relate to your case (if applicable). If you are interested in appealing your school place, you should talk to your parents or carers. You are able to get more information about this by contacting the Coram Children’s Legal Centre.
To appeal against the decision of the school named by the Local Authority in your Statement of Special Educational Needs at Part 4 or in your EHC plan in section 1, an appeal can be made by your parents or carers to the First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). Your parents or carers will need to lodge this appeal within two months of receiving your Statement. You are able to get more information about this by contacting the Coram Children’s Legal Centre.
What can you do if you need extra help at school?
If you have difficulties learning or accessing education, you may be able to get extra help at school. You may be able to get help with a range of different things, for example, schoolwork, reading, writing, expressing yourself, communicating with others, understanding what people are saying and behaving properly. To find out about what help may be available to you, your parents or carers can speak to your class teacher, SENCO or the Headteacher. If you need this sort of help, and it is not something which can be provided through the schools budget then you, your parents or carers or your teachers will need to ask the local authority to give you this help. See the next question ‘What are your rights if you have Special Educational Needs?’ to find out how to do this.
What are your rights if you have Special Educational Needs?
Having Special Educational Needs means that you have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for you. If you have Special Educational Needs, you may need extra help at school. This help can be given by your teachers or by an outside expert, either in school or outside school.
If you need more help than can be provided through school funds, your parents, carers or teachers can ask your Local Authority’s Special Educational Needs Department to assess your needs. This is called a ‘statutory assessment.’ Your local authority must decide within 6 weeks whether or not they will make an assessment following a request by the school or your parents.
If your Local Authority decides not to carry out an assessment, your parents or carers can appeal this decision to a panel called the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). The time limit for an appeal is 2 months from the date of the decision by the Local Authority. Your parents can contact the Coram Children’s Legal Centre to get help with this.
From the 1st of September 2014 Statements of SEN are gradually being replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans, EHCP. When a request for an EHCP is made the Local Authority must decide whether to do an assessment within 6 weeks.
The Local Authority must decide whether to issue an EHCP 16 weeks from the first request. If the Local Authority decide to issue an EHCP you and your parents have 15 days to respond to the contents. The EHCP should contain the support that must be given to you and it will name the school that you must go to. The support can include educational support, for example, it might say that you need to have sessions with an expert to help you with speech and communication problems. It can also include non-educational support, like medical help that you might need to help with a medical condition that you have.
Your parents or carers can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) if they are not happy with what the Local Authority includes in your EHCP or if the Local Authority decides not to issue you a EHCP. An appeal must be lodged within two months of the decision you are appealing against. Your parents or carers can contact the Coram Children’s Legal Centre to get help with this.
A statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHCP is a legal document and if the school does not give you the support listed in your Statement of Special Educational Needs, your parents or carers should get legal advice, as they may be able to make a complaint about this and force the school to give you the support you need. They can contact the Coram Children’s Legal Centre to get help with this.
If you think that you have been treated unfairly by anyone at your school because of a disability that you have, you may be able to make a complaint about this.
What can you do if you have been excluded from school?
There are two types of exclusion: fixed-term exclusions, which are for a short period, and permanent exclusions, where you will be taken off the school roll. You should only be excluded from school as a matter of last resort, where you have broken your school’s behaviour and discipline policy. This can include where there has been persistent, disruptive behaviour. You should only be permanently excluded from your school if you have seriously breached your school’s behaviour policy, or if you staying at your school would seriously harm your education or welfare, or the education or welfare of pupils or others at your school.
Excluding you from school should be a last resort only and should not be used for things like pregnancy, minor matters like failing to do your homework, or poor academic performance.
Before deciding to exclude you, your Headteacher should make sure an investigation has been carried out, consider all the evidence, and allow you to tell your side of the story. If your Headteacher decides to exclude you, he or she should notify your parents or carers immediately. A letter should be sent which contains the reasons for you being excluded and the length of exclusion.
Your parents can appeal against the Headteacher’s decision to exclude you permanently. If they want to do this, they will need to appeal to your school’s Governing Body. There is also a further right of appeal to an Independent Review Panel and information about this will be contained in the Governing Body’s decision letter. They can contact the Coram Children’s Legal Centre to get help with this.
Your parents are also able to make representations to the school’s Governing Body if you have been excluded for a fixed term and you feel that this was unfair or not right. The Governing Body will consider the representations and decide whether or not the exclusion was justified.
For the first five days of an exclusion whether it is a fixed term or permanent exclusion, the school has a duty to continue to provide you with education. It should send work to you to complete. From the sixth day of exclusion, the duty to educate you is the responsibility of the Local Authority.
What can you do if you’re being bullied?
Bullying in schools is a problem that affects thousands of children every year. Bullying includes physical or verbal abuse or a combination of both. It can include the following types of behaviour:
• Name calling and teasing, including taunts about sexual orientation
• Making offensive comments verbally, or by texting, email or on the internet, for example on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace or on mobile apps.
• Stealing from you
• Physical violence, like kicking, hitting and pushing
• Making threats
• Trying to force you to do something you don’t want to do
• Excluding you from taking part in group activities
If you are being bullied, you should talk to your parents or carers, or a teacher or someone else at school, like a social worker. Your school is required by law to have an anti-bullying policy, which is a guide that sets out how it tries to stop bullying and how complaints of bullying should be handled. Your school should follow this policy to decide how to tackle the way you are being bullied.
If you aren’t happy with the way the school has dealt with trying to stop the bullying, you can make a complaint about it. You should talk to your parents or carers if you want to make a complaint. You or your parents or carers can contact the Coram Children’s Legal Centre if you want further advice about how to make a complaint.
If you feel like you can’t go to school because you are being bullied, your parents or carers may be able to apply to other schools and if unsuccessful appeal this decision and explain that your case has exceptional circumstances due to the bullying.
What if you can’t go to school?
If you can’t go to school because you have been excluded or because you have an illness, or for another reason, like you are being bullied, your Local Authority must find another type of suitable education for you. This can be in a Pupil Referral Unit, or it can be Local Authority tuition at home or hospital tuition. Whatever is provided, it is up to the Local authority to make sure that the education is suitable to your age, educational level, ability and aptitude. If asking the Local Authority to provide this education due to illness or bullying or another reason which isn’t exclusion, you will need satisfactory evidence to support your request (e.g. medical evidence).
Under the Education Act s.175 schools have “a duty to safeguard children”.
For more information and support if you are being bullied you can contact Kidscape on 02077303300 or Childline on 08001111.
What if you are in care?
If you are a looked-after child, your Local Authority should make an assessment of your educational needs as part of your core assessment. The Local Authority must also make sure that you have a Personal Education Plan, which is a document that sets out a course of action to make sure that you can reach your full educational potential. It should include clear objectives or targets relating to academic achievement, out of school activities and personal and behavioural targets. It is the responsibility of your social worker to make sure that you have a Personal Education Plan within 20 school days of being looked after or joining a new school.
If you want to continue with your education after secondary school, can you get help to pay for this?
If you turn 16 and still want to study, schools, sixth form colleges and city technology colleges are free and you may also be entitled to free transport to and from your place of study from your Local Authority.
Can I be educated at home?
Yes. Your parents must ensure that you receive an education, but that does not have to be at school. If you are home educated, you and your parents can decide between yourselves how you are educated. You do not have to do formal lessons, stick to timetables or sit any exams unless you want to. The Local Authority has a duty to identify children who are not receiving an education so they may ask your parents to provide informal information about what you are doing to ensure that it is satisfactory.
As long as the Local Authority is happy that you are receiving appropriate education, they can not make you go to school. If the Local Authority is concerned about the education you are receiving it can obtain orders from the court to request your parents provide more detailed information and engage further with the Local Authority about your education to ensure that it is satisfactory. If your parents do not comply with the order and satisfy the Local Authority that you are receiving a suitable education, then the Local Authority may obtain an order from the court which requires you to go to school.
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