School Duties (with or without an EHC Plan)

Last modified: March 12, 2019
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For many families, the biggest issues lie directly with the school.  Their child may have an EHC Plan, or be on the SEN register of the school but the provision can be either non-existent or poor.  

There are many duties the school must comply with, irrelevant of whether a child has an EHC Plan or not.  This is referred to as SEN Support. 


“I was told that Academies and Free Schools do not have to follow the guidance, they are independent and can pretty much do as they like.”  


The SEND Code of Practice does apply to them too. 

Does this apply to ALL schools?

The Code of Practice is statutory guidance for the following:

  • the governing bodies of schools, including non-maintained special schools 
  • the governing bodies of further education colleges and sixth form colleges 
  • the proprietors of academies (including free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools) 
  • the management committees of pupil referral units 
  • independent schools and independent specialist providers approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 
  • all early years providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors that are funded by the local authority

SEND code of Practice – Page 13 – Intro : iv.

Duty to Admit

(Children and Families Act – Section 43) 

Schools have to accept a child with an EHC Plan if the school is named on the Plan.  They can only refuse a child where:

  • the school or other institution requested is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs of the child or young person concerned, or,
  • the attendance of the child or young person at the requested school or other institution would be incompatible with:
  • the provision of efficient education for others, or
  • the efficient use of resources

Improving Outcomes

Schools must have high aspirations and expectations for children and young people with SEN.   (Chapter 6.1 – Code of Practice)

All children and young people are entitled to an appropriate education.  This should allow them to

    • achieve their best
    • become confident individuals living fulfilling lives, and
    • make a successful transition into adulthood (whether that is employment, further/higher education or training)

Identify and Address the SEN of pupils they support

Every school is required to identify and address the SEN of the pupils that they support.  (Chapter 6.2 – Code of Practice)

Mainstream schools, academies that are not special schools, maintained nursery schools, 16 to 19 academies, alternative provision academies and Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), must:

  • use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEN  (Children & Families Act 2014 – Section 66)
  • ensure that children and young people with SEN engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEN
  • designate a teacher to be responsible for co-ordinating SEN provision – the SEN co-ordinator, or SENCO (this does not apply to 16 to 19 academies)
  • inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • prepare an SEN information report and their arrangements for the admission of disabled children, the steps being taken to prevent disabled children from being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to enable access to the school for disabled children and their accessibility plan showing how they plan to improve access progressively over time

Assess, Plan, Do & Review:


(Chapters 6.45-6.47 – Code of Practice)

In identifying a child as needing SEN support the class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should carry out a clear analysis of the pupil’s needs.

Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent. These should be recorded and compared to the setting’s own assessment and information on how the pupil is developing.


(Chapters 6.48-6.51 – Code of Practice)

Where it is decided to provide a pupil with SEN support, the parents must be formally notified, although parents should have already been involved in forming the assessment of needs.

The teacher and the SENCO should agree in consultation with the parent and the pupil the adjustments, interventions and support to be put in place, as well as the expected impact on progress, development or behaviour, along with a clear date for review.

All teachers and support staff who work with the pupil should be made aware of their needs, the outcomes sought, the support provided and any teaching strategies or approaches that are required.

Parents should be fully aware of the planned support and interventions and, where appropriate, plans should seek parental involvement to reinforce or contribute to progress at home.


(Chapter 6.52 – Code of Practice)

The class or subject teacher should remain responsible for working with the child on a daily basis.

Where the interventions involve group or one-to-one teaching away from the main class or subject teacher, they should still retain responsibility for the pupil.

They should work closely with any teaching assistants or specialist staff involved, to plan and assess the impact of support and interventions and how they can be linked to classroom teaching.

The SENCO should support the class or subject teacher in the further assessment of the child’s particular strengths and weaknesses, in problem solving and advising on the effective implementation of support.


(Chapters 6.53-6.56 – Code of Practice)

The effectiveness of the support and interventions and their impact on the pupil’s progress should be reviewed in line with the agreed date.

The impact and quality of the support and interventions should be evaluated, along with the views of the pupil and their parents. This should feed back into the analysis of the pupil’s needs. The class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should revise the support in light of the pupil’s progress and development, deciding on any changes to the support and outcomes in consultation with the parent and pupil.

Parents should have clear information about the impact of the support and interventions provided, enabling them to be involved in planning next steps.

Where a pupil has an EHC plan, the local authority must review that plan as a minimum every twelve months. Schools must co-operate with the local authority in the review process and, as part of the review, the local authority can require schools to convene and hold annual review meetings on its behalf.

Reasonable Adjustments

All schools have duties under the Equality Act 2010 (Part 6 – Chapter 4) towards individual disabled children and young people. They must make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of auxiliary aids and services for disabled children, to prevent them being put at a substantial disadvantage.   This duty applies to the responsible body of the school (eg Governing body, Management Committee).

These duties are anticipatory – they require thought to be given in advance to what disabled children and young people might require and what adjustments might need to be made to prevent that disadvantage.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have published guidance for schools in England on Reasonable Adjustments for Disabled Pupils.

Medical Conditions

The Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on maintained schools and academies to make arrangements to support pupils with medical conditions. Individual healthcare plans will normally specify the type and level of support required to meet the medical needs of such pupils. 

EHC Plans are for children and young people with special educational needs.  Children with health needs and no SEN will have access to individual Healthcare Plans.

Where children and young people also have SEN, their provision should be planned and delivered in a co-ordinated way with the healthcare plan. Schools are required to have regard to statutory guidance ‘Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions’  (Chapter 6.11 – Code of Practice)

The School must have a policy for supporting pupils with medical conditions that is available easily to parents and staff.  The policy must include:

  • a named person who is responsible for ensuring that sufficient staff are suitably trained
  • a commitment that all relevant staff will be made aware of the child’s condition
  • cover arrangements in case of staff absence or turnover
  • briefing for supply teachers
  • risk assessments for school visits, holidays and other activities outside the normal timetable
  • monitoring of individual healthcare plans and who is responsible for their development
  • arrangements for when a child (who is competent) to manage their own health needs and medicines
  • procedures to be followed for managing medicines
  • what happens in an emergency situation
  • procedures followed when they are notified a pupil has a medical condition
  • how complaints are made and handled with regard to the support provided to a pupil with a medical condition

SEN Information Report

(Children and Families Act 2014 – Part 3 – 69 and SEND Regulations 2014 – Schedule 1)

The Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on maintained schools, maintained nursery schools in England and the proprietors of Academy Schools to prepare a report containing SEN information.

This should include:

  • the kinds of Special Educational needs for which provision is made at the school
  • how the school evaluates the effectiveness of its provision for such pupils
  • the school’s arrangements for assessing and reviewing the progress of pupils with special educational needs
  • the school’s approach to teaching pupils with special educational needs
  • how the school adapts the curriculum and learning environment for pupils with special educational needs
  • additional support for learning that is available to pupils with special educational needs
  • how the school enables pupils with special educational needs to engage in the activities of the school (including physical activities) together with children who do not have special educational needs
  • support that is available for improving the emotional, mental and social development of pupils with special educational needs
  • the name and contact details of the SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO)
  • information about the expertise and training of staff in relation to children and young people with special educational needs and about how specialist expertise will be secured
  • information about how equipment and facilities to support children and young people with special educational needs will be secured
  • the arrangements for consulting parents of children with special educational needs about, and involving such parents in, the education of their child
  • the arrangements for consulting young people with special educational needs about, and involving them in, their education
  • any arrangements made by the governing body (or propriertor) relating to the treatment of complaints from parents of pupils with special educational needs concerning the provision made at the school
  • how the governing body involves other bodies, including health and social services bodies, local authority support services and voluntary organisation, in meeting the needs of pupils with special educational needs and in supporting the families of such pupils
  • the contact details of support services for the parents of pupils with special educational needs
  • the school’s arrangements for supporting pupils with special educational needs in a transfer between phases of education or in preparation for adulthood and independent living
  • information on where the Local Authority’s local offer is published 

Staff roles and responsibilities


There should be a member of the governing body or a sub-committee with specific oversight of the school’s arrangements for SEN and disability. (Chapter 6.3 – Code of Practice and Governance Handbook 2017 – Chapter 5.1)

Governing Bodies should make sure that their school complies with all aspects of discrimination law.   (Governance Handbook 2017 – Chapter 6.3)

Head Teachers/Principals

School leaders should regularly review how expertise and resources used to address SEN can be used to build the quality of whole-school provision as part of their approach to school improvement. (Chapter 6.3 – Code of Practice)


Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development of the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff.  (Chapter 6.36 – Code of Practice)

High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have SEN. Additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of good quality teaching. High quality teaching, differentiated for individual pupils, is the first step in responding to pupils who have or may have SEN. Additional intervention and support cannot compensate for a lack of good quality teaching. (Chapter 6.37 – Code of Practice)


Governing bodies of maintained mainstream schools and the proprietors of mainstream academy schools (including free schools) must ensure that threes a qualified teacher designated as SENCO for the school. (Chapters 6.84-6.94 – Code of Practice and SEND Regulations 2014 reg 50)

The SENCO must be a qualified teacher working at the school.  If a new SENCO is recruited at the school, they must be a qualified teacher and, if they have not previously been a SENCO for more than twelve months at a previous setting, they must achieve a National Award in Special Educational Needs Co-ordination within three years of starting the role.

The SENCO should work with the headteacher and governing body to help determine the development of SEN policy and provision in the school.  

The SENCO has day to day responsibility for the operation of SEN policy and co-ordination of specific provision made to support individual pupils with SEN, including those with EHC plans.

The SENCO provides professional guidance to colleagues and works closely with staff, parents and other agencies.  

Key responsibilities may include:

  • overseeing the day to day operation of the school’s SEN policy
  • co-ordinating provision for children with SEN and monitoring the effectiveness of any provision made 
  • liaising with the designated teacher where a looked after pupil (*) has SEN
  • advising on the use of the school’s SEN notional budget and other resources to meet the pupils needs
  • liaising with parents of pupil with SEN
  • liaising with early year providers, other schools, educational psychologies, health and social care professionals and other independent/voluntary organisations
  • securing relevant services for the pupil where necessary
  • being a key point of contact for external agencies (eg the local authority and support services)
  • liaising with potential next providers of education to ensure a pupil and their parents are informed about options and that a smooth transition is planned
  • working with the Head teacher and governing body to ensure that they school meets its responsibilities under the Equality Act with regard to reasonable adjustments and access arrangements
  • ensuring that the records for all pupils with SEN are kept up to date
  • Looked after pupils are children in care.

School’s Designated Safeguarding Person

In the Children Act 2004, the role of the Designated Safeguarding person was introduced.  This requires every organisation to have a named person responsible for safeguarding children and young people.  This role was previously known as Child Protection Officer or Co-ordinator.

The Designated Safeguarding person within a school should make sure that all staff know how to understand the symptoms of child abuse and/or neglect and how to raise these concerns.  

They are also responsible for referring concerns to the police or social care, monitoring the children who have child protection plans and also maintaining child protection records.

Admission and Treatment

All school bodies have legal duties under the Equality Act 2010 (Part 6).  

They must not discriminate against a person

  • in the arrangements it makes for deciding who is offered admission as a pupil,
  • as to the terms on which it offers to admit the person as a pupil
  • by not admitting the person as a pupil

They must not discriminate against a person

  • in the way it provides education for the pupil
  • in the way it affords the pupil access to a benefit, facility or service
  • by not providing education for the pupil
  • by not affording the pupil access to a benefit, facility or service
  • by excluding the pupil from the school
  • by subjecting the pupil to any other detriment

They must not harass 

  • a pupil
  • a person who has applied for admission as a pupil

They must not victimise a person

  • in the arrangements it makes for deciding who is offered admission as a pupil
  • as to the terms on which it offers to admit the person as a pupil
  • by not admitting the person as a pupil

They must not victimise a pupil

  • in the way it provides education for pupil
  • in the way it affords the pupil access to a benefit, facility or service
  • by not providing education for the pupil
  • by not affording the pupil access to a benefit, facility or service
  • by excluding the pupil from the school
  • by subjecting the pupil to any other detriment

Preventing Discrimination

Schools also have wider duties to prevent discrimination, to promote equality of opportunity and to foster good relations.  (Chapter 6.9 – Code of Practice)

Involving Parents

Schools must provide an annual report for parents on their child’s progress.

Where a pupil is receiving SEN support, schools should talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress towards them, discuss the activities and support that will help achieve them, and identify the responsibilities of the parent, the pupil and the school. Schools should meet parents at least three times each year.

These discussions should be led by a teacher with good knowledge and understanding of the pupil who is aware of their needs and attainment. This will usually be the class teacher or form tutor, supported by the SENCO.

These discussions will need to allow sufficient time to explore the parents’ views and to plan effectively. They will generally be longer than most parent-teacher meetings.

The views of the pupil should be included in these discussions. This could be through involving the pupil in all or part of the discussion itself, or gathering their views as part of the preparation.

A record of the outcomes, action and support agreed should be produced and shared with parents and appropriate school staff.

The School Website

The school website must include:

    • the amount of money they get from taking underprivileged children (known as the pupil premium*), what they do with it and the effect it has had 
    • details of the curriculum
    • admission criteria
    • behaviour policy
    • special educational needs policy (Children and Families Act 2014 – Section 69 and SEND Code of Practice – Chapter 6.79)
      • Accessibility policy  (Equality Act 2010.  Schedule 10. Paragraph 3)
      • disability policy
      • SEN Information report  (SEND Regulations 2014 – Schedule 1)  
    • links to Ofsted report
    • links to performance data
    • the school’s latest key stage 2 and 4 attainment and progress measures
    • school contact details
    • school complaints procedure
    • Governors Information and duties
    • Values and Ethos
    • Paper copy requests (if a parent requests a paper copy of the information on the school website, it must be provided free of charge by the school)
  • The pupil premium is additional funding given to schools to help disadvantaged pupils of all abilities perform better and to close the gap between them and their peers.  It is given to school for each pupil registered as eligible for free school meals.  The Pupil Premium is different to SEND funding for schools.  

School Funding

School funding is split into three categories, sometimes referred to as Elements 1, 2 and 3 funding streams.

Every pupil

Schools receive funding based on the number of pupils in the school.  This varies from Local Authority to Local Authority.  Generally secondary schools receive more than primary schools.  It is generally around £2000 for each pupil for primary school and £3000 for each pupil for secondary schools.

The Notional SEN budget

Schools receive an additional sum to help them to provide SEN support.  This sum is based on formulas and tends to provide more money to schools that have a higher number of children on free school meals (Pupil Premium) and those with a higher percentage of children struggling with English and Maths.

This notional SEN budget is not allocated per child, so if a school gets a good reputation for teaching children with SEN and as a result more parents send their child with SEN there, they can struggle to maintain the levels they have set.  They can ask the LA for more funding.

This notional budget is what people are talking about when they mention schools having to use their budget of £6000 to pay for special educational provision.

The notional £6000 is not allocated individually to each child with SEN, so your child does not get £6000 worth of special educational provision.  The school can spend this in the manner they think will be of most benefit to their pupils with SEN.  

However, schools do have a duty to identify, assess and provide special educational provision for all children with SEN.  

Local Authorities also have a duty to specify what the schools are expected to provide with their notional SEN budget and should publish this information on their Local Offer.

High Needs/Top Up funding 

Schools can apply for high needs funding if a child needs more than £6,000 spent on them to meet their needs (Chapter 6.99 – Code of Practice).  This is only for children in mainstream schools and sixth forms (including free schools and academies).  This does not apply to schools with resourced provision (such as an ASD unit, a VI unit, a HI unit), Special Schools or Pupil Referral Units.  

The Criteria varies from LA to LA but generally:

    • The child will have an EHC Plan or be on SEN Support with severe and complex needs
    • The child will be on the school roll and in full time attendance
    • The school has utilised their notional SEN budget to address the needs of the child
    • The school can evidence what has been tried and what steps have been taken to meet the needs within the SEN budget


  • Hello. Love the website! You have slightly misinterpreted the Children & Families Act however. The duty on schools to admit is under s.43. (S.39(4) applies to the local authority when naming a school in an EHC Plan).  Keep up the good work 🙂
    • Thank you so much.  We have made the amends and are really grateful for you taking the time to feedback.
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