If your child has additional support needs, you might think that a particular school or nursery is best-placed to help them. You are able to make a placing request for this school or nursery.
Here, you will find information about:
- how to make placing requests
- which schools you can make placing requests to
- when you should get a response to your request
- what to do if your request is not successful.
Choosing a school can be a difficult decision for parents, particularly if you are unsure if your child would be best placed at a mainstream or special school.
Placing requests for nursery schools
If your child has additional support needs, you can make a placing request for him or her to attend a particular pre-school or nursery
A child is first eligible to receive nursery education when they are approximately three years old. The exact date your child becomes eligible to start nursery will depend on their date of birth. However, you do not have to send your child to nursery if you do not wish to.
Nursery education is usually provided as five mornings or afternoons per week or two-and-a-half days per week.
Placing requests for primary/secondary school
Children normally start primary school around their fifth birthday, depending when their birthday is.
If your child is due to start school in August, your local authority will normally contact you at the beginning of that year, usually by February. If you have not received any information, contact your local authority and let them know this.
Your local authority will normally suggest that your child goes to his or her local catchment area school. An officer from the authority should speak to you and offer you the chance to visit the school that is being proposed.
When the authority tells you which school they are suggesting your child attends, they must also tell you about your right to make a placing request to an alternative school.
If you agree with the school that has been suggested, you can enrol your child. The school or your local authority can tell you about enrolment procedures.
If you would like your child to start primary school before their fifth birthday or, alternatively, you wish to defer or delay their entry, contact your local authority for advice.
Choosing a school
Before making a decision on whether to send your child to a particular school you may wish to:
- find out more information about the school(s) by contacting them, or your local authority, directly
- visit Scottish Schools Online's website, which has information on every school in Scotland including independent schools: www.scottishschoolsonline.gov.uk
- make arrangements to visit the school(s) with your child
- ask the school(s) or local authority for specific information, such as a school's position in performance tables or exam results.
You may like to read choosing a school (Scotland) information for suggestions on checking schools' provision for pupils with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If you would like your child to change school, for whatever reason, you can make a placing request at any stage of your child's education. You do not have to wait until the start of a new school year or term to make a placing request.
If you move house and your child has to change school, contact your local authority as soon as the move is known.
If your child is due to go through a change in education, such as starting or changing schools, the local authority must help prepare him or her. This is particularly important if your child, like many children with an autism spectrum disorder, has difficulty with change. If you would like further information telephone our Education Rights Service or contact your local authority directly.
How to make a placing request
If you disagree with the school that your local authority has suggested for your child, you can make a placing request for an alternative school. Or you can make a placing request before your local authority has suggested a school.
Your request must be put in writing and include the following details:
- your name and address
- your child's name and date of birth
- the school you are requesting
- the reasons why you are requesting this school.
It can also be useful to include other details such as your child's stage of education, their current school and details of their additional support needs.
It is important to give thought to your reasons for choosing a particular school as authorities will often prioritise requests based on the reasons given by parents.
You could explain why you feel a particular school will meet your child's needs. If your local authority has suggested another school (or you would like your child to change school), you might also say why this school would not meet your child's needs.
For details of how your local authority prioritises placing requests, contact them directly.
You can telephone our Education Rights Service if you would like help preparing your placing request.
Some local authorities have placing request application forms that you can fill in. However, a letter with the details above will also suffice. You can apply to more than one school but should highlight which school is your first choice. The law states that local authorities only have to take your first choice into consideration.
Which schools can I make a placing request to?
If your child has additional support needs you can make a placing request to:
- any local authority school in Scotland
- any independent or grant-aided special school in Scotland as long as the establishment has agreed to accept your child as a pupil
- any special school in England, Wales or Northern Ireland as long as the establishment has agreed to accept your child as a pupil.
Your local authority also has the power to place children and young people with additional support needs in schools outside the UK. However this would not be done through a placing request. Ask your local authority for more information about places in schools outside the UK.
Placing requests and transport
Before you make a placing request, think about how your child will get to and from school. You may also want to discuss this with the local authority before you submit the request.
If your child attends a school other than the one suggested by your local authority, the authority does not have to provide transport for your child. This means that if your placing request is successful, you may find that the authority is unwilling to provide transport. Alternatively your child may be offered transport but you may be charged for it.
However, if you have made a placing request to an independent or grant-aided school and your request is successful, the authority must meet the fees and any other necessary costs related to your child's attendance there. This includes transport.
Who should I make a placing request to?
This depends on the type of school you have requested and where the school is.
If you would like your child to go to a local authority school where you live, you should make the request to your local authority.
If you would like your child to go to a local authority school in a different local authority area to where you live, you should make the request to the authority where the school is based.
If you would like your child to go to an independent or grant-aided school, you should send the request to your local authority, wherever the school itself is situated.
When should I receive a response to my request?
You should receive a reply within a specified time. The exact time limit depends when you made the placing request and whether you requested a place for your child in the new school year, or an immediate placement.
If you made a placing request for a placement at the start of the new school year and this was sent to your local authority on or before 15 March, you should expect a response by 30 April of that same year.
If you made a placing request for a placement at the start of the new school year and this was sent to your local authority after 15 March, you should expect a response within two months from the date they received your request.
For an immediate placement, regardless of when you sent the request, you should expect a response within two months from the date the local authority received your request.
The authority's response should include details of whether your request has been accepted or refused and the reasons why. If your request has been refused, details of how you can appeal against this decision should also be enclosed.
My placing request has been granted
If your local authority accepts your placing request, they should tell you how to enrol your child at the school. If you have not received this information or you have further questions, contact the authority directly.
If your request for an independent school has been granted, your local authority must meet the fees and any other necessary costs related to your child's attendance, including getting your child to and from the school.
Why might my request be refused?
There are various reasons, laid down in law, why the local authority may refuse your placing request. For example, limited capacity and space might mean that a place is not available for your child at the school you requested. The local authority may also feel that the school you have requested does not best meet your child's needs.
If you have requested an independent or grant-aided school, the authority may have decided that one of their own schools would be better for your child, after considering the cost and suitability of both schools.
My placing request has been refused
If the local authority has not responded to your written placing request within the time limits specified by law, they are deemed to have refused your request.
If you receive a reply from the local authority stating that they have refused your placing request you can:
- choose the school that the authority has proposed. If they have not yet proposed a school you can ask them to do so
- consider whether there is another school you would like your child to attend and talk to your local authority or make a placing request
- appeal against the decision.
How do I appeal against a decision to refuse my request?
If you have received a letter from your local authority that says they have refused your placing request you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. You only have a certain amount of time to appeal against the decision.
There are two routes of appeal. The local authority's letter should tell you which route is available to you.
If you made a placing request for a special school you appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland.
If you made a placing request for a mainstream school you can appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland if:
- your child has a co-ordinated support plan (CSP)
- he/she is being assessed for a CSP
- a CSP is is being prepared foryour child
- you are currently appealing against a decision not to preapre a CSP for your child.
Your appeal must be made within two months from the date you received the authority's letter refusing your request.
If you made a placing request for a mainstream school you can appeal to the Education Appeal Committee if:
- your child does not have a CSP
- he/she is not being assessed for a CSP
- a CSP is not being prepared
- you are not appealing against a decision about preparing a CSP for your child.
You should contact the Education Appeal Committee within 28 days of receiving the authority's letter.
For further information about who to make your appeal to and when, telephone our Education Rights Service or contact your local authority. Our Education Rights Service can also help you to prepare your appeal and offer advice and information on the education appeal committee and tribunal.
If your appeal is successful, the local authority has to place your child in the school you requested. If you are unsuccessful you may have a further right of appeal.
- Scottish Government (2010). Supporting childre'’s learning: code of practice. ISBN: 978 0 7559 9470 0
- Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland. A user's guide to the Additional support needs tribunals for Scotland.
- Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland. Additional support needs tribunals for Scotland DVD.
The publications mentioned above are available from:
1. Scottish Government (Learning Directorate)
Tel: 08457 741 741
2-3. Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland
Tel: 0141 242 0370
Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service.
Last reviewed: 10 March 2016.