Secondary School Transitions For Children With SEND
The Law Of…securing school places for children with SEND
If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SSEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and they're starting secondary school this September, your local authority should have contacted you about their transition by 15th February.
Aimee Last, Paralegal in our Education and Community Care team, explains what you can do if you still haven't heard from your local authority.
Does My Child's Statement Of Special Educational Needs Have To Be Changed Into An EHCP?
If your child has a Statement and is transferring to secondary school in September 2017, then the local authority must convert their statement into an EHC plan by carrying out a 'Transfer Review'.
This process should have been completed by 15th February 2017, and by now your local education authority (LEA) should have issued a finalised EHC plan that identifies which school your child is to attend in September.
This duty is set out at section 14(3)(b) of Children and Families Act 2014 (Transitional and Saving Provisions) (No. 2) Order 2014 (as amended).
What Happens During The Transfer Review Process?
The transfer review process begins with parents receiving a letter from their local authority notifying them that they will be carrying out an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment.
It's important for parents to be aware that the local authority cannot simply copy and paste the content of their child's Statement into an EHCP – they must carry out a new assessment of the child’s needs. But, if all parties agree that the current information is up to date and accurate then the local authority doesn't have to arrange a new assessment.
The assessment should begin two weeks after you receive a letter from the local authority. As part of the process, the local authority will gather information about your child's special educational needs including:
- What their specific needs are
- The outcomes your child will work towards
- Which provision is required to meet your child's needs
The local authority has a duty to liaise with any health and social care professionals who are involved with your child as part of the assessment – this should take no more than 10 weeks. Your local authority should also arrange a Transition Review meeting (this may occur in place of an annual review) and you should be invited to attend.
If the local authority believes that it's unnecessary to issue an EHCP following the assessment, they have to let you know why they made this decision.
You can appeal against their decision by approaching the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). It's important to remember that your local authority must maintain the Statement pending the decision of the tribunal.
Will I Be Able To Review The Content Of The EHCP Before It Is Issued?
If the local authority decides that an EHCP should be issued for your child then they must send a draft of the plan to you along with a copy of any advice obtained throughout the assessment.
They have to give you at least 15 days to review and comment on the draft EHCP, and you can also propose a school to be named in Section I. The local authority then has a further 15 days to consult with the school you have proposed and any other schools they think may be suitable before issuing a final EHCP.
What Happens If My Child Already Has An EHCP?
If your child already has an EHCP then under regulation 18 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 this should have been reviewed and reissued with a secondary school placement by the deadline of 15th February.
I'm Not Happy With The Decision Made About My Child's EHCP – What Can I Do?
If you disagree with the description of your child’s special educational needs, the special educational provision, or the placement you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability).
The process is slightly different for appeals against decisions relating to an EHCP.
Parents will first be expected to go through mediation before they can make an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. If you still wish to make an appeal after mediation, it must be received by the tribunal within two months of the date of the letter containing the original decision, or within one month of the date of the mediation certificate – depending on which is the later date.
What Can I Do If I Haven’t Received A Notification That A Transfer Review/Annual Review Will Take Place?
If you haven't yet received a notification that a transfer review will take place or you haven't been informed about an annual review for your child, we recommend that you contact your local authority as soon as possible.
If you're not happy with the response you receive from the local authority, speak to one of our specialist Education Law solicitors about what action can be taken.
How Can Simpson Millar Help Me?
Starting secondary school is a big step for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities, and having the appropriate support in place from the start can make a big difference to their learning and development.
Whether you want personalised advice or you want to take legal action, our specialist Education Law solicitors will ensure that your child doesn't miss out on what they are entitled to.