Key Stages are stages of education. The first significant transfer is that from Nursery to Reception (into Key Stage 1), then Year 2 to 3 (into Key Stage 2), Year 6 to 7 (into Key Stage 3), Year 9 to 10 (into Key Stage 4), Year 11 or older to College (into to Further Education) and from College into employment/adult care. Often these transfers involve a move to a new setting.

A child or young person with an Education Health and Care Plan requires a detailed review at key stage transfer and it is expected that changes to the wording of EHCPs will mostly happen in preparation for this transfer.


Key Stage Transfer – School Age (Up to Key Stage 4)

Children of school age, who are going into reception and have an Education, Health and Care plan have their school placements arranged before placements for children without EHCPs. This is done to give children with EHCPs priority.

Forms are sent to schools requesting them to support parents/carers to fill in their school of preference and return it to the SEN Team before the 31 October. This gives the SEN team time to process the annual review (if we have recently received it) and use the new draft plan to consult the requested school(s) to see if they can meet your child’s needs before the 15 February.

An EHC plan must be reviewed and amended in sufficient time prior to a child or young person moving between key phases of education, to allow for planning and, where necessary, commissioning of support and provision at the new institution.

The review and any amendments must be completed by 15 February in the calendar year of the transfer at the lastest for transfers into or between schools.

9.179.  DfE (2015) Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice

Find out about choosing and naming a setting.

If your child is going through a statutory EHC Needs Assessment and does not yet have a final Plan, but is transferring to a new Key Stage, please apply through the admissions team online, but also let your SEN Assessment Coordinator know which school you would like named for the new Key Stage. SEN Teams and Admissions also communicate and share information, but until you have a final Plan, you must apply for a school via School Admissions.

If your child is transferring to a new Key Stage, the Local Authority must issue a final plan by 15 February of the year of transfer, naming the school your child attends now and will attend in September. Once named on the plan, a school must provide a place and meet the SEN provision of the plan. In this way, children with plans find out their school before their peers.

The date is set in order to give you enough time if you wish to appeal any aspect of the Plan. The appeal will be over before September. It also gives enough time to prepare and plan the transition with your new setting.


Key Stage Transfer - Year 11 onwards

When a young person is transferring to a new education setting in key stage 5, the Local Authority must issue a final plan by 31 March of the year of the transfer, naming the current education setting and the new setting for September where applicable. Once named on the plan, the new setting must provide a place and meet the SEN provision of the plan.


Choosing to defer a year

The Department for Education made changes to the Schools Admissions Code 2014 to allow parents and carers the right to delay their child’s entry to primary school until they reach compulsory school age (5 years old) if their child is born between 1 April and 31 August.  You can choose to start at the beginning of a term (for example winter, spring or summer term) or you could request that your child starts a year later (September).

If you choose to defer your child’s education for up to a year and you have and Education, Health and Care plan, then the Education Psychologist who has assessed your child will be asked whether they agree this would be in your child’s best interest. 

If it is agreed that your child would benefit from deferring for a year you will need to have it agreed that your Education, Health and Care plan that it is in their best interest to remain with their new cohort/class.



22.9 Application for Key Stage Transfer

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If you are a young person, parent or carer and you think you might need some further information, advice or support contact Supportive Parents, Bristol's SEND Information, Advice and Support service.


This page has information for residents in the City of Bristol.  Find out about what other Local Authorities do.

Last Update 1 December 2016 by Findability Team.