Why the Phase Transfer Deadline is So Important

Portrait of Sarah Woosey
Sarah Woosey
Partner, Education & Community Care Solicitor

The deadline for phase transfer is 15th February (31st March for children over 16-years-old). By this time, your Local Authority should have put together a final Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) naming a school or college for your child to attend from the following September.

Meeting the phase transfer deadline means that if there are any issues with your child’s EHCP, you should have sufficient time to resolve these before your child starts their new setting.

Our Education and SEND Lawyers have years of experience in assisting families where Local Authorities have missed phase transfer deadlines and helping people who’ve disagreed with the decisions or actions of their Local Authority when decisions have been issued.

Get in touch with one of the team for initial advice.

Call us on 0808 239 9764 or request a callback

What are the Deadlines?

The deadline for Local Authorities to issue an amended EHCP in advance of a primary or secondary transfer is 15th February and 31st March for children over 16.

What if the Local Authority is Delaying the Process?

If your Local Authority is moving too slowly, you’ll understandably be concerned about ensuring that they meet the phase transfer deadline.

It’s important that the Local Authority work within the set out timeframes so that any amends can be made before your child enters the next stage of their education.

If your Local Authority has failed to send you a final amended EHCP before 15th February and your child is due to start primary or secondary school in September, you should contact the Local Authority immediately.

If you’re unhappy with the response from the Local Authority, or if they fail to reply, our Education Lawyers can help you. They will discuss with you whether Judicial Review proceedings may be appropriate.

How do I Make a Complaint Against the Local Authority?

Unfortunately, there will be times when the Local Authority may need to be challenged. The most common reasons for this include:

  • the Local Authority failing to update your child’s EHCP in time;
  • a school named in the EHCP not being suitable;
  • lacking detail in the EHCP on the support your child will be given or inadequate provision being specified.

If you raise a complaint with the Local Authority, you need to be cautious as to how long it will take to resolve. Seeking advice early can make sure you're challenging a failure appropriately. For example, challenges to delays in issuing an EHCP can be dealt with through judicial review proceedings.

In our experience, these cases don’t need to go all the way to Court. We can usually resolve the issue with the Local Authority by sending what’s called ‘a letter before claim’ which gives them a chance to settle the matter before taking things further.

If there are concerns over the contents of an EHCP, including the school named, this often requires an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Time limits are tight and appeals should be lodged within 2 months of the date of the covering letter sent with the EHCP.

How can a Lawyer Help With EHCP Disputes?

Common Complaints Around EHCP's

The School Named in the EHCP Isn't Suitable for my Child

If you want the school named in your child’s EHCP to be changed, you’ll need to lodge an appeal with the SEND Tribunal. You may have a school in mind that you’d like your child to go to, and if possible, you should visit the school to make sure that it’s the right fit for your child. The more information you can secure first-hand about the school you are seeking and indeed the school the Local Authority thinks is appropriate, the better.

You should also consider getting expert advice. What is needed will be completely dependent upon the facts of your case and so individual advice could be crucial here. The Tribunal is evidence based, so it's important you have a legal expert to help you put this together.

The EHCP Hasn’t Detailed the Support my Child Will Receive

You can appeal the provision described in your child’s EHCP to the SEND Tribunal if you don’t think it will meet their needs in the same way as described above. Wording is key and our lawyers are able to advise on  specific wording where this is needed.

We know how stressful it can be when your child isn’t getting the support they need in school or you’re having to wait for the Local Authority to make a decision.

If you need any legal advice about your child’s EHCP, get in touch with our Education Solicitors today and we can help you.

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