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SEND and rights to a mainstream education

All children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have the right to a mainstream education.

This is made clear in the SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years.

The law says:

  • if a parent or carer wants their child with SEND to go to a mainstream school or college, the council can only refuse if this would have a negative impact on the efficient education of others, and there are no reasonable steps the council can take to avoid this – the same applies to young people with SEND who want to go to a mainstream school or college (section 33, Children and Families Act, 2014)
  • the degree or complexity of a child or young person’s SEND, and the suitability of a mainstream education, is not a legal reason to refuse a mainstream education – this also applies to taking mainstream courses
  • the council cannot send a child or young person to a special school if this is not what parents, carers or the young person wants – this is true even if the view of the council is supported by professionals

While children and young people with SEND have a right to a mainstream education, they do not necessarily have a right to attend a particular mainstream school.

The right to a mainstream education applies to all children and young people with SEND, whether or not that have an education, health and care (EHC) plan.