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My child didn’t get into our choice of school in Scotland – what now?

Photo: Get help to choose a deaf-friendly school in Scotland

If you’re not happy with the school placement your child has been given, you have the right to appeal – it doesn’t matter if they have a coordinated support plan (CSP) or not, but how you go about appealing is different.

Making a Reference to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal (Scotland)

For more information go to The Equality Act and your child's education.

My child doesn’t have a coordinated support plan (CSP) and I want my child to be placed at a mainstream school

Parents have a right to make a ‘placing request’ on behalf of their child. A placing request is any written request to place a child at a specified school. Placing requests can be made to any school in any local authority. You should make the request by 15 March of the year before your child is due to start school.

Where a placing request is made, the local authority must grant the request, unless one or more grounds for refusal apply. If you haven’t heard from the local authority by the 30 April (or within two months if you applied after the 15 March), this means that the local authority has turned down your request.

If a placing request is refused, you have a right to appeal within 28 days from the date of the decision letter (which must give information on the right to appeal). The appeal is heard by an education appeal committee of up to seven people. These may be councillors or local people such as teachers and parents. They cannot be people who have any connection to the schools that you and the local authority have chosen.

Following the hearing, the committee must write to you with their decision within 14 days. If you aren’t happy with the committee’s decision, you then have the right to appeal to the Sheriff. You must do this within 28 days.

My child has a coordinated support plan (CSP) and/or I want my child to be placed in a school with specialist provision

Parents have a right to make a ‘placing request’ on behalf of their child. A placing request is any written request to place a child at a specified school. Placing requests can be made to any school in any local authority. You should make the request by 15 March of the year before your child is due to start school.

Where a placing request is made, the local authority must grant the request, unless one or more grounds for refusal apply. If you have not heard from the local authority by the 30 April (or within two months if you applied after the 15 March), this means that the local authority has turned down your request.

If the placing request is turned down, you should appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal (and not an education appeals committee).
You have two months from the date of the decision letter (which must give information on the right to appeal).

A Tribunal (panel of three people) will hear the appeal. The Convener, who has a legal qualification, will chair the hearing. The Members have knowledge and experience of children or young people with additional support needs.
Both parties (you and the local authority) can ask for witnesses to attend. It is possible for a witness to give written evidence or to speak to the Tribunal by telephone conference call if they are unable to attend in person.

The Convener will normally hold a telephone conference call prior to the hearing date to discuss how the hearing will proceed, confirm what witnesses are to be called and to agree a running order. The Tribunal would always welcome your child attending or could hear your child’s views in writing, by video or in pictures.
It is difficult to say how long a hearing will last. Many last one day but a placing request could last up to three days if it is complex and several witnesses are called.

Once the hearing is over, the Tribunal will write to you and the local authority with their decision. They usually do this within around ten working days. The Tribunal’s decision is final although you can appeal to the Court of Session if you believe that the decision is wrong on a point of law. You’ll receive information about appealing to the Court of Session when you get the tribunal’s decision.