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ADD/ADHD Information - Scotland

Placing Request

How are educational placements usually made?

Each Scottish school has a 'catchment area' determined by the local authority and most children will generally attend the designated school in their catchment area. Sometimes where a child has special educational needs, an appropriate educational placement will be determined in conjunction with professionals who can advise on which school can meet your child's needs.

What is a placing request?

If you decide that you do not wish to send your child to the local catchment area school or the school being recommended by professionals, you can make a placing request by writing to the local authority that runs your preferred school. This is sometimes referred to as parental choice under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.

Who can make a placing request?

Your right as a parent to request a place in a school applies at any time until the child reaches school leaving age. In other words, a placing request may be made if you want your child to change schools. Young people over 16 years old also have the same rights as parents to make placing requests on their own behalf.
How to make a placing request

The placing request is made to the local authority that runs your chosen school. You may approach any local authority to place your child in any mainstream or special school under their management.

The placing request must be put in writing to the local authority's education department, with your name and address, your child's name and the name of the school you have chosen.

It is also helpful to include your child's date of birth and (if appropriate) the name of the present school and the current stage of education. You do not have to write down the reasons for your choice of school. However, you might consider including any relevant information in support of your request (eg. your other children already attend the school that you are choosing), because the local authority may give priority to requests made on certain grounds.

Some local authorities have placing request application forms that are available from local schools and the education department. It is important to find out from the local authority or the school that you are interested in if there is a time limit for making a placement request.

The school of your choice is known as the specified school. If you list more than one school in your placing request, the first one mentioned will be taken to be the specified school.

Children/young people with a Record of Needs

If your child has a Record of Needs, education authorities have a more extensive duty under the law to comply with parental placing requests. Parents of children with a Record of Needs may make a placing request, at any stage of the child's education, to attend any independent special school, any grant-aided special school, or any self-governing special school anywhere in Scotland, and any local authority special school.

Parents of children with a Record of Needs may also make a placing request for any UK school that makes provision wholly or mainly for children with pronounced, specific or complex special educational needs. In rare cases a placing request may be considered for a school outside the UK.

In all the above cases, the placing request is made to the local authority in which the child resides, often referred to as the 'home' authority. Where the placing request is successful, the home authority may pay all the necessary fees and expenses of the placement, including transport costs, even if the school is some distance away. It is very important to find out, at an early stage, if the Council are prepared to pay the school fees and other expenses - especially transport costs - as the law is very complex on this matter.

Before such a placing request is considered by the local authority, it must be confirmed that the chosen school is willing to accept your child. The school involved will want to make sure that the fees will be paid by your local authority before your child is offered a place.

The likely success of any placing request outwith the pupil's own local authority can vary to a considerable degree from one part of the country to another. Some local authorities have a policy of educating all children with special needs within their own provision. You should ask your local authority for information about its policy and guidelines on placing requests.

What happens next?

Once the local authority receive your letter making the placing request, they must either let you know quite quickly that there will be a place for your child in the school of your choice, or they must tell you who will decide whether there is a place for your child. For instance, if you want your child to start at the beginning of the next school year in August, and you apply before 15 March that year, then you should get a reply by 30 April.

They must tell you the name of the person you should contact if you have any questions about how the request is being handled.

If they have refused your request, they must also tell you about your right to appeal and must also inform you why your request has not been granted.

Refusal of the placing request

The local authority can refuse to grant a placing request for certain reasons set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. Two of the main reasons for refusal are:

a. if placing your child/young person in your choice of school would adversely affect the continuity of his/her education, or the educational well being of other pupils in the school;
b. if placing your child/young person in your choice of school would mean a significant amount of money would have to be spent on changing the accommodation, or an additional teacher would have to be employed.

However, an education authority can place a child in the specified school, even if the reasons for refusing a request apply. This means that a local authority may agree to a placing request even if by doing so they would have to employ an extra teacher, or spend money on accommodation. But on the other hand, they are quite within their legal rights to refuse such a request.

What to do if the placing request is turned down

If your placing request is refused, the local authority to which you have made the request must tell you in writing why they cannot give your child a place in the school of your choice. The reason they give must be one of those covered by the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 as amended. If you do not accept or understand the reason for refusal, ask the person who wrote to you for more information. The local authority may suggest another school that could meet your child's special educational needs. You may have originally had a second choice of school which may still be available, in which case write to the local authority and let them know.


If you feel very strongly that your original placing request should not have been refused, you have the right to have the local authority's decision referred to an appeal committee. If you wish to appeal you must do so in writing to the education department of your local authority. This must be done within 28 days of receiving the refusal letter. The right of appeal does not apply to a refusal to place a child in a nursery school or class.

Transport Issues

If your local authority has suggested a school for your child, the law says that they must make travel arrangements to get your child to school if:

a. your child is under 8 and lives more than 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) from school; or
b. your child is 8 or over and lives more than 4.8 kilometres (3 miles) from school.

If however you make a placing request for your child to attend another school, your local authority does not have to provide any help with transport.

If your child has a Record of Needs, the local authority must meet the costs of travel to the school which they recommend in the Record. If you make a placing request for your child to attend a local authority mainstream school in either your own or another local authority area, you may have to arrange and pay the transport costs yourself. By law your local authority only has to meet the travel costs in the case of a successful lacing request to a special school in Scotland which is independent, grant-aided or self-governing; or to a special school outwith Scotland. - Ecosse ADDers 2005

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