New Phase Transfer Deadline Rules because of Coronavirus?
Lots of people have been calling to ask us this question as they’ve heard that Local Authorities don’t have to comply with the deadline because of Coronavirus. In short, Local Authorities must still comply with the Phase Transfer deadline because the Secretary of State for Education must give notice in order for the legislation related to Coronavirus to be in force in relation to SEND and this has not happened at the time of this article being published.
If the Secretary of State for Education provides the required notice, then it will lead to some of the laws relating to SEND changing. The Covid-19 Act includes legislation to water down the duty to provide the provision in Section F of an EHCP. This is a specific duty which must be complied with but the Act gives the power for it to be replaced with ‘a duty to try their best to provide it’.
This will weaken your rights and we’re monitoring this very carefully.
What to Do If Your Child Doesn't Get an EHCP by the Phase Transfer Deadline
Your Local Authority still has a legal requirement to issue the Final Amended EHCP for Post 16/19 phase transfer. This duty will continue unless the Secretary of State for Education, gives the notice as set out above before 31 March 2020.
If your Local Authority doesn’t meet this deadline, you can challenge this through a Judicial Review which our Education Law Solicitors can help you with.
You could also make a complaint to the Local Authority about this but the complaint route takes time. We’ve become aware that the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who can investigate complaints against Local Authorities have suspended all casework and will not accept any new cases in response due to the Coronavirus.
The Judicial Review route is usually a quicker resolution to a complaint and in light of the Ombudsman’s decision is the only independent process available at the time of writing this article.
What to Do If the Local Authority Leaves the Placement Section Blank
The Local Authority is legally required to either name a specific placement or type of placement your child or young person should attend from September 2020. If they don’t do this, you can also challenge this through a Judicial Review. This is normally the quickest way to resolve the issue. You could consider making a complaint to the Local Authority but this does take time and as explained, if that’s unsuccessful you cannot currently submit a complaint to the Ombudsman.