[holding answer 16 June 2006]: Neither academies nor maintained schools have direct powers to limit admittance of children with statements of SEN. Academies admit more pupils with SEN (both with and without statements) than other secondary schools in England. The large majority of academies must have regard to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2001) and any guidance issued by the Secretary of State relating to sections 316 and 316A of the Education Act 1996. Academy procedures for admitting children with statements of SEN track those for maintained schools. For example the large majority of academies must consent to being named in a statement of SEN unless to do so would be
“incompatible with the provision of efficient education for other children; and where no reasonable steps may be made to secure compatibility”.
This position tracks the requirement on maintained schools set out in sections 316/316A of the 1996 Education Act.
Where parents of children with a statement express a preference for a particular maintained school the local authority must consult the school concerned, and in the case of a school maintained by another authority that local authority as well. As part of the consultation process the authority should write to the school and other authority to ask them whether, in their opinion:
the school is unsuitable to the child’s age, ability or aptitude or to his special educational needs;
the child’s attendance would be incompatible with the efficient education of the children with whom he would be educated, or
the child’s attendance would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources.
If the school or local authority opposes the naming of the parent’s preferred school on any of the grounds specified above, the “home” authority should consider very carefully their reasons for doing so, before deciding whether or not to name the school. The decision rests with the local authority and once a local authority names a particular maintained school in a child’s statement, that school must admit the child.