Merit Pupil Referral Service

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The role of the Local Authority 

It is the duty of the Local Authority (LA) to arrange suitable full-time education (or part-time when appropriate for the child’s needs) for children who are unable to attend a mainstream or special school because of their health. This duty applies to all children and young people who would normally attend mainstream schools, including Academies, Free Schools, independent schools and special schools, or where a child is not on the roll of a school. It applies equally whether a child cannot attend school at all or can only attend intermittently.


If a child cannot attend school because of health problems, and would not otherwise receive a suitable full-time education, the LA is responsible for arranging provision. 


Admission Criteria

Merit school is for children between the ages of 11 and 16 whose full time education has been/will be interrupted by illness. Referrals to Merit will be made by the student’s home school to the Learning Pathways Hub at Stoke On Trent Local Authority. Learning Pathways will refer students to our school if they believe we can meet their needs.


Merit provides exclusively for students with medical and mental health needs. As a consequence, Merit does not provide for:


  • Permanently excluded students
  • Students who do not attend a school for reasons other than those related to ill health
  • Students exhibiting behaviours which could be detrimental to the education of other students (regardless of mental health)
  • Students involved in drug misuse or other criminal activity.


As a condition of admission and as part of the school’s responsibility, all students should be dual registered with a mainstream or special school.



With the exception of hospital referrals, all referrals must be made using the Learning Pathways Referral Form provided by the Local Authority . Referrals cannot be made directly to Merit.


If a child is being referred on medical grounds, referrals should be accompanied by written medical evidence from a Consultant or medical professional. Evidence from a member of the school nursing team or GP may support an application but are not sufficient evidence alone.


There is no guarantee of the offer of provision at Merit. Merit has 38 full time places and we need to accurately assess a child's needs before we can offer them a place. Some students may be offered a time restricted assessment placement before being fully admitted into the school. Most students referred to Merit have support from CAMHS but do not need an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) to attend.