Does your Child have a Statement of Special Educational Needs and are they Transferring to Secondary School in September 2016?
If your child has a Statement of Special Educational Needs and they are transferring from primary to secondary school in September 2016 then work should now be well underway to transfer their Statement over to an Education Health and Care Plan.
To affect the transfer the Local Authority must conduct a Transition Review and an EHC Needs assessment. It is unlawful for the Local Authority to simply pick up what is in a Statement and put it into a Plan.
The transition process must be completed in a maximum of 18 weeks and in any event by 15 February 2016.
To start the process the Local Authority will send to you and your child’s school a letter confirming the date that the EHC Needs assessment will start. They must give you at least 2 weeks notice.
Once the assessment starts the Local Authority will gather information and advice on your child’s needs, the provision needed to support those needs and the expected outcomes as a result of the provision. The Local Authority will seek advice and information from you, your child, your child’s school, an Educational Psychologist and various other professionals. The advice should be new unless there is recent advice that is sufficient for the purposes of the assessment and you, the Local Authority and the original author of the report agree to it being used. If not then the Local Authority must seek new advice. The advice should be received by the Local Authority within 6 weeks of them requesting it. The Local Authority should also arrange a Transition Review meeting at which you will be able to attend.
If the Local Authority decides that a Plan should be drawn up then they must produce one and send a draft to you along with a copy of the advice it has received. It must give you at least 15 days to make comment on the content of the draft plan and for you to tell it the type (mainstream or special) of school you wish to be named and the name of the school. You can also ask for a meeting with the case officer to discuss the draft plan.
The Local Authority will subsequently consult with the school that you have put forward and the school should respond within 15 days.
The Local Authority will then issue a final Plan. If you disagree with the description of your child’s special educational needs (section B), the special educational provision (section F) and or the placement (section I) you can appeal to the tribunal.
If having completed the assessment the Local Authority determines it is not necessary to issue a Plan they must tell you why and provide reasons. You can appeal the decision to the tribunal and the Local Authority must maintain the Statement pending the decision of the tribunal. The legal tests for an EHC Plan have not changed from those for a Statement. So this should only be happening in a small number of cases where the child’s needs have significantly changed.
Challenging the Local Authority decision
The decision letter you receive from the Local Authority must set out your right of appeal to the tribunal. The decision letter must also contain details of a mediation advisor who you can contact about mediation. Before making an appeal you must consider mediation. An appeal must be made within 2 months of the date of the Local Authority decision letter or within 1 month of the mediation certificate, whichever date is later.
A summary of the action that the action the Local Authority must take along with the final date by which it must have done so, if the process is to be concluded within the statutory timeframes, is in the below table. This is based on the Local Authority starting the process on or after 1 September 2015 and is a guide only. If the Local Authority commenced the process before 1 September 2015 it should by now have been completed and you should have the final Plan.
|Final date by which action must be taken ||Action ||Week No. |
|28 September 2015||LA sends a letter confirming the date the EHC needs assessment will start||Minus 2 weeks|
|12 October 2015 ||EHC Needs assessment must start||0 - 12|
|04 January 2016 ||A draft EHC Plan needs to have been produced and sent to the parent||12 – 14|
|18 January 2016||Decision not to issue a Plan||14|
|25 January 2016||Consultation with educational setting||15 - 17|
|12 February 2016||Final EHC Plan issued. Statement automatically ceases ||17 – 18|
It is important that the Local Authority are working within the above timeframes otherwise there is a danger that you will not receive the final EHC Plan before 15 February 2015. This could delay an appeal to the tribunal and subsequently mean that your appeal is not heard before the start of the new academic year.
If you have any concerns you should initially contact your Local Authority to see if you can resolve the issues.If you remain concerned do not hesitate to contact us for specialist advice and we can discuss your options.