Skip to main content

Starting primary school for pupils with SEND

If you or your child is the age when they should be starting primary school (sometimes called transfer) in September there is some information that will help you understand what to do next.

There are some key dates and deadlines set by the government when certain things need to be done.

Here is a one page parent/carer guide to the timeline and process: Hackney Primary transfer timeline and process flow chart for children with EHC Plans

The following information is for parents/carers of children with Education Health and Care Plans (including children whose plans are in draft form).


Page last updated: 25/06/19

Visiting Primary Schools with your child…

Primary Schools do not run Open Days in the same way that Secondary Schools do.

Parents should contact settings they are thinking of sending their child to and arrange visits to schools to see if they are suitable and to get an idea of what support they offer.

Don’t judge a school based only on what others say, schools and staff in them change over time. The right school for your friend’s child may not be the right school for your child.

Visit schools and speak with key staff to make up your own mind about if it’s right for your child.

Hackney SENDIAG parent’s guide ‘Visiting a new school talks about what to ask about, look for and how to review school visits.

You can ask for advice from professionals working with your child, the school’s SENCo, other parents.

If your child has an EHC Plan you will be sent a preference form to complete once you have identified schools that you feel are suitable for your child.

Where to look for each school’s information about SEND...

If you want to find out more about certain schools before you visit you can find information on their websites. It’s helpful to look at a schools SEND information to get a better feel for each settings approach to support and inclusion. Schools must publish this information to help inform parents like you when they are choosing a school.

There are 3 key pieces of information all schools must make available.  


SEN information reports:  These explain to parents how help and support for pupils with SEND is arranged and delivered in each school or setting. They should be written in a way that makes the information clear and meaningful for parents and are a legal requirement since 2014.


SEN Policies: The law says all schools must have policies that describe arrangement for pupils with SEND. SEN Policies contain technical information and detail on how support is agreed, arranged and delivered.


Accessibility Policies: All schools have a responsibility to ensure access to facilities for pupils with SEND. They explain how over time a school environment will be maintained and made more accessible pupils and describe how each setting is compliant with this Equality Act 2010 duty.

School Transport for some children with SEND

Some children with SEND may be eligible for transport assistance and information about this should be discussed with the Plan Coordinator before the final plan is issued.

Applications need to be made and agreed for SEND Transport Assistance.

School preference forms for children with SEND

Parents/carers of children starting reception class with EHC Plans (including draft EHC plans) will be sent preference forms in September 2019.

Preference forms are for you to choose and tell the local authority which schools you are most interested in. These are sent out in September each year. It is important to keep them in a safe place, fill them in and return them before the deadline at the end of October.

It is recommend that you visit the schools, check their websites, meet with key staff e.g. SENCo and fully complete at least 2 preferences. Think carefully about your preferences.

You are required to submit the completed preference form with your choice of school by October 25th for 2019 . This allows enough time for the EHC Planning Team time to consult with the schools you have chosen.

All children must start reception by the term following their fifth birthday. Your child will be offered a full-time school place for the start of the school year when they turn five.

Legislation on Primary Transfer for children with EHC plans

The SEND Code of Practice states that a primary school/academy should be named on a child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) by 15th February in the year of transfer.

Section I of the EHC Plan will name the current nursery setting AND the primary school/academy your child will be transferring to with the date that the new placement is operative e.g. September 2020

This is to allow parents/carers enough time to appeal to the Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal (SENDT) and receive a decision before September in the year of transfer.

Can you delaying your child’s start in reception…

After a school place has been offered you can delay your child’s start in reception class or request they go part-time initially by speaking to the headteacher of the school. In specific circumstances you can request to defer your child’s admission to reception class for a full year.

Deciding to defer starting school can impact on a child’s whole education not just starting reception. It could potentially mean that your child will be missing reception education until they start, while other children of a similar age will be learning in the classroom and forming friendship groups.

We recommend families considering deferment speak to family, friends and professionals who know the child to help make sure it is carefully considered and in the best interests of the child.

Where can I find out more?

You can speak with your child’s plan coordinator, the SENCO at you current or intended setting or Hackney SENDIAGS to find out more.

Face to face information sessions are run each year so parents can find out more and ask questions. These are offered by the Education Health and Care Planning Team and Hackney SENDIAGS.

At the session parents will discuss

  • The secondary school transfer process for children with EHC Plan
  • Key dates in the school transfer process
  • Advice on choosing a school and completing the preference for
  • Answer questions from parents/carers on the school transfer process

Parents who are beginning to explore the process for the following year are welcome. 


Children with SEND but no EHC Plan.

Information sessions for parents/carers of children on SEN Support who will follow the mainstream admissions process are also held each year. 

Back to top