Phase Transfer Deadline Explained

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Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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31st  March is an important date for your child or young person if they have an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) in place and are due to transfer to the Post 16/19 phase of their education. This is because the Local Authority is legally required to issue an amended Final EHCP by the 31st March, naming the placement or type of school or post 16 education institution, they should attend from September. .

For those transferring from primary to secondary school, the legal processes are very similar but the deadline is earlier; 15th February.

It is important that Local Authorities meet these deadlines, as it makes sure that there’s enough time for the transition work to be completed for the child or young person. And, it also makes sure that there’s enough time to appeal the placement and contents of the EHCP and for that appeal to be heard in the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), more commonly known as the SEND Tribunal before September.

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What is a Phase Transfer?

Phase transfer is when your child is transferring between key phases of their education. To help your child and the school to prepare for their special needs, an EHCP will need to be reviewed. When the EHCP is transferred from one school setting to another, it will go through a  process called Phase Transfer Review. .

The law states that all EHCPs need to be reviewed before the child transfers to a new school setting so that the school can make the appropriate plans and set-up any provisions that may be necessary. There are certain points at which this must be done. The most common are:

  • Primary to secondary school
  • Secondary to post 16 education.

The deadlines are different for these phase transfers. The deadline for a decision on secondary transfer is 15th February in the year of transfer whereas the deadline is the later deadline of 31st March for post 16/19 transfers.

How Long Does an EHCP Last?

It’s important to understand that while EHCPs can continue until you are 25 years old, if a young person decides to go to University, their EHCP ceases. If your child will still need support, you can discuss this with the University directly to see what type of help they can offer. For example, they may be able to offer 1:1 support or mentoring to make sure that your child gets the most out of their experience. Software and/or additional time can sometimes be necessary.

When it comes to completing a UCAS or college application form, any special educational needs should be mentioned to ensure relevant adjustments can be made.

If the child or young person leaves education completely then their EHCP should also cease.

In other circumstances, a Local Authority may choose to cease it for other reasons. This could include the Authority considering that a child or young person no longer requires an EHCP perhaps because they have met the outcomes stated on the document. If this decision is made and it is one which is not agreed then it can be appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Such a decision should only made following a formal review of an EHCP.

Who Reviews the EHCPs?

The reviews must involve the child, their family, and any relevant professionals who are involved within the child’s care. Local Authorities have the responsibility to let the parents know of the outcome within 4 weeks of the meeting.

What Does the Phase Transfer Process Look Like?

If this is your first Phase Transfer for your child, you may be wondering what happens during the process. Here’s a quick look at what will happen, so you know exactly what to expect:

  • During the Summer term, the Local Authority will advise the school when the Phase Transfer review must be completed by. You will usually receive a date by the end of the summer term for a review in the beginning of the next academic year
  • Research the schools or colleges you’d potentially like for your child.  You should receive the paperwork and any updated reports on your child’s progress at least 10 days before the review meeting itself, but if you don’t then you should speak with the school’s SENCO if they have one.
  •  The annual review report and any additional information from the meeting, should be sent by the school to the Local Authority after the meeting.  Within 4 weeks of the meeting, the Local Authority should send you a draft amended EHCP.
  • You will then have 15 days to respond to the draft amended EHCP and you should make any comments that you feel are necessary including confirming your preference of school or college for the future.
  • 8 weeks on from when the draft amended EHCP was written or by the phase transfer deadlines mentioned above (whichever is earlier), the Local Authority should issue a final amended EHCP. This should name the placement that’s being offered to your child from the following September.

If you’re not happy with the contents of the amended EHCP, then you have 2 months to appeal the decision.

What to Do If Your Child Doesn't Get an EHCP by the Phase Transfer Deadline

Your Local Authority has a legal requirement to issue the Final Amended EHCP for  phase transfer.

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. The time taken here could eat into the time you would expect for challenging any decisions to the SEND Tribunal. This means that if the deadlines for decisions are not met, the chance of the Tribunal resolving any dispute over placement prior to the following September, when the placement is due to start, will reduce significantly.

What to Do if You Don’t Think the School Named in the EHCP is Suitable

You can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal if you aren't happy with a decision made about your child’s school placement or the contents of the EHCP. But, if your child is deemed to be a young person, the right to appeal is theirs to make. They can do this themselves or with your help if they ask for it or if they don’t have capacity to appeal and you are a suitable alternative person, you can do it for them.

There is a chance to improve your chances of succeeding in your appeal by including the description of educational needs and the provision recorded in the EHCP as part of your appeal. In most cases our lawyers find that the drafting of the educational needs and provision included in EHCPs is poor, so it’s usually beneficial to appeal these sections of the EHCP as well.

What to Do If an EHCP Review Doesn’t Take Place

If your SEN child has an EHCP but the Local Authority doesn’t do a review when they should have, you need to get in touch with them as quickly as possible. The Local Authority has a statutory duty of overseeing the review and making sure that it takes place, so if they’re in breach of this duty, it needs to be reported immediately. If this matter does not resolve, then Judicial Review may be needed. You should seek advice on this. If you have been affected then do not hesitate to get in contact to see if we can assist.

How We Can Help

Because our Education Law team  have helped many other people with their Phase Transfer Appeals, we know what works. We can put all those years of expertise into your appeal – helping you throughout the whole process from giving you legal advice to representing you during proceedings.

If there have been problems with your child or young person's phase transfer, their EHCP doesn't meet their needs and/or they don't get a place at their preferred choice of school, speak to us as soon as possible.

We’ve assisted clients like you and helped them to achieve the best possible outcome for their child’s Special Educational Needs. If you need legal advice regarding your child’s EHCP, do not hesitate to get in contact.


Department for Education (2015). SEND Code of practice: 0 to 25 Years. [online] Available at:

Children and Families Act (2014). Children and Families Act 2014. [online] Available at:

GOV.UK (2014). The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014. [online] Available at:

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

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