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What is EOTAS?

Children reading happily under a tree in the sunshine
Education doesn't have to be in a classroom

EOTAS stands for Education Otherwise Than At School. It is a form of education funded by the local authority for those children or young people for whom school or college is not appropriate. Whether a school is appropriate for a child or young person is a question of fact, and will depend on individual circumstances. These can include, but are not limited to, a child or young person's background and medical history (including mental ill health); their Special Educational Needs (SEN) and their reaction to education provisions, at school or elsewhere (see TM v London Borough of Hounslow [2009] EWCA Civ 859).

EOTAS is only available for a child or young person who has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHC Plan). Although often thought of as a temporary measure, an EOTAS package can last as long as it is needed; which can be years rather than months. EOTAS can encompass a wide range of learning opportunities, from home tutoring to equine therapy to forest school and much more besides. As long as the activities 'educate or train' and there is evidence that they are required to meet the child or young person's SEN, they can be included. Existing EHC Plans can be, and often are, amended to provide for EOTAS at Annual Review or at Early Annual Review; perhaps following a placement breakdown or other change of circumstance. If the local authority does not agree to EOTAS it can be secured by a successful appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (SEND).

It is critical not to confuse EOTAS with the similar sounding EHE or Elective Home Education. The key difference between EOTAS and EHE is that EHE relieves the local authority of their statutory obligation to provide a suitable education for a child or young person. If you choose to EHE you are assuming complete responsibility for your child or young person’s education - including any provision that may be stipulated in an EHC Plan. EHC Plans can still exist for children and young people who are EHE, but delivery of all of the provision in Section F is the responsibility of the parent/carer; not the local authority.

Because EOTAS is not an educational placement as such – indeed it is exists only in the absence of an educational placement – it does not appear in section I of an EHC Plan (see the recent case of Derbyshire CC v EM and DM (SEN) [2019] UKUT 240 (AAC)). This means that everything that makes up the EOTAS, from home tutoring or online school, to therapies including Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Art Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy etc, needs to be set out in detail and properly specified and quantified, in section F.

EOTAS can be funded directly by the local authority via payments to providers, or parents/carers can request a Personal Budget to fund some or all of it through Direct Payments.

At SEND Advocacy we can advise on whether EOTAS is appropriate for your child or young person, and if so how to make the best possible case for it. We can also prepare a bespoke EOTAS package that you can present to the LA for inclusion in the EHC Plan. If you need someone in your corner to help you secure the education your child deserves, contact us today.


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