Local Authorities Tell Parents They Are Unable To Meet New Deadline

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The Law Of... education, health and care plans

Substantial National Shortfall For Post-16 Education Plans

New data has revealed widespread failings in making sure plans are in place for children with special educational needs moving from secondary school to a post-16 placement, apprenticeship or college this September.

South East Shows Biggest Shortfall For Post-16 Education Plans

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information by education specialists at Simpson Millar show how 114 councils failed to meet the new deadline for issuing Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan for young people with special educational needs this spring.

The plans are meant to help children who are transferring from school (including sixth forms) to a post-16 institution or an apprenticeship in September. In 2014/15, the post-16 EHC plans had to be issued by 31 May 2015, but local authorities have come unstuck over the new deadline which, for the first time this year, is now 31 March.

Out of the young people who were due a transition plan this spring, nearly 10,000 received theirs after the legal deadline.

Last year, under the old 31 May deadline, local authorities failed to provide the plans for at least 6,579 teenagers.

Imogen Jolley, head of Education at Simpson Millar, is shocked at the result. She says:

"Local authorities have a legal duty to prepare and issue EHC plans for young people with special educational needs – setting out their transition from school to a college placement or apprenticeship. The new deadline was intended to allow parents time to prepare their young person for a transition which can otherwise cause a great degree of stress and anxiety."



"We have clearly uncovered a systemic problem which is affecting thousands of young people with special educational needs at a crucial time in their education. Shortcomings this clearly indicates a widespread lack of resources to meet a deadline which is both legal and essential. What’s the point in having a deadline if local authorities have scant regard for it, or are entirely unable to meet it? This is an issue that needs addressing now."

Education solicitor James Betts from Simpson Millar is advising parents of teenagers who are yet to receive their children’s post-16 transition plan. He says: "Thousands young people are being short-changed by local authorities up and down the country – leaving parents who are already worried about their transition chasing plans that should have been issued months ago. As time runs out, so does the opportunity for parents to challenge the placements and provision offered in the plans. Perhaps that is what the local authorities are hoping for."

THE FOI REQUEST

Simpson Millar submitted the following FOI request in winter and spring 2016:

  • 1a. How many young people with special educational needs in your local authority area require an EHCP for transitioning from a school placement to a college placement in September 2016?
  • 1b. How many of these young people received their final EHCP by the 31st March 2016 deadline?
  • 2a. In the 2014/2015 school year, how many EHC Plans were issued for children/ young people transferring from school (including sixth forms) to a post-16 institution or an apprenticeship?
  • 2b. In the 2014/2015 school year, how many EHC Plans were issued after the 31 May 2015 deadline for children/young people transferring from school (including school sixth forms) to a post-16 institution or an apprenticeship?


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