Local Authorities Miss School Deadline For Over 3,800 Special Needs Children


Delayed plans for SEN children set to cause confusion and distress for families

More than 3,800 children with special educational needs have been left waiting for the plan that is supposed to help them move from primary to secondary school this September.

Delayed plans for SEN children set to cause confusion and distress for families

The legal deadline for local authorities to have produced a final transition Education Health Care plan for children with special educational needs was 15 February 2016. But according to official figures obtained by specialist education lawyers at Simpson Millar, 111 local authorities missed the deadline for a staggering 3,812 children.

“Local authorities have a legal duty to carry out a Transition Review and an Education Health and Care needs assessment for children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs who will be moving into secondary school this September,” says specialist education solicitor, Thomas Mitchell from Simpson Millar. “The February deadline was crucial for parents who need time to prepare their children for the transition, and for those who wish to appeal the provision or placement set out in the plan. The fact that so many local authorities have been unable to meet the deadline is quite concerning and hugely upsetting for parents.”

Thomas points out that the deadline was introduced to make sure leave parents and teachers enough time to prepare a sensible transition for children who otherwise risk getting a poor start in secondary school.

“The draft plan should have been ready a minimum of four weeks before the final deadline so that parents had enough time to review it and provide important feedback. Without knowing where their child will attend secondary school, parents can’t begin the planning and handover process, which is absolutely vital.

“Thousands of children with special educational needs now face a stressful, poorly managed and hugely overwhelming transition from primary to secondary school. The local authorities that have failed to meet the deadline could all face a judicial review.”

Being included in organised induction activities before the summer holidays is essential for children with special educational needs – some of whom need additional time and support to cope with major life changes.

“The parents of these 3800 children are right to be anxious; they don’t know where their child will be going to school and which provision will be available. Many are worried that their child will miss the crucial introduction period, and that there won’t be enough time for a proper handover between current and future teachers.”

According to Thomas, the vast majority of appeals are successful in securing better provision or support for children, but the process takes time.

“Parents who might wish to appeal their child’s transition plan are now at real risk of running out of time. These plans must be provided urgently and the local authorities that missed the deadline should be asked to explain how they plan to do better next year.”

Transfer a Statement over to an Education Health and Care Plan: The process

The local authority will gather information and advice about the child’s needs, the provision needed to support those needs and the expected outcomes. Advice and information will be sought from the parents, the child and their school, an educational psychologist and other professionals. A dedicated Transition Review meeting should take place where the parents are invited to attend. If the conclusion of the assessment is that an Education Health and Care Plan is required, then the local authority must produce one and give the parents a minimum of 15 days to review and comment on it. Parents can request whether they want their child to attend a mainstream or special school, and name their preferred choice. Afterwards, the local authority will consult with the school in question and then issue a final plan.

Parents are allowed to launch an appeal to the tribunal if they disagreed with the description of their child’s special educational needs, the special educational provision, or the placement.

After the 15 February deadline, Simpson Millar issued a Freedom of Information request to all councils in England asking:

Q1. How many children with special educational needs in your local authority area required an Education Health Care Plan or statement of SEN for transitioning from primary to secondary school in September 2016?

Q2. How many of these children received their final transition Education Health Care Plan or statement by the 15 February 2016 deadline?

Councils Shortfall Notes Date Received
London 315
Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council 8 01.04.16
Barnet London Borough Council 40 02.03.16
Bexley London Borough Council 55 18.03.16
Brent London Borough Council 19 02.03.16
Bromley London Borough Council 21 03.03.16
Camden London Borough Council 12 23.02.16
Croydon London Borough Council 2 25.02.16
Ealing London Borough Council 9 17.03.16
Greenwich London Borough Council 1 23.02.16
Hackney London Borough Council 4 17.03.16
Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough Council 12 15.03.16
Haringey London Borough Council 5 There have been 113 EHCPs issued for pupils in NCY 6. There are 28 pupils still with statements in NCY 6 of which only 1 is confirmed as moving to a special school with no EHCP at present, 3 of the 28 are already in special schools with statements that do not require an EHCP as there is no change of school, for the remaining pupils it is not clear at this stage which secondary school they may be moving to and therefore I am not able to clarify (at this time) if this group require an plan or if the existing statements will be amended to name a maintained secondary. 17.03.16
Harrow London Borough Council 3 15.03.16
Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council 5 04.04.16
Kingston upon Thames London Borough Council 15 14.03.16
Lewisham London Borough Council 6 25.02.16
Merton London Borough Council 7 18.03.16
Newham London Borough Council 1 One pupil had arrived as new into the Local Authority and had not completed the form by 15th February. 16.03.16
Redbridge London Borough Council 18 25.02.16
Sutton London Borough Council 4 These are the figures for pupils that are specifically changing provision from primary to secondary (transitioning), not inclusive of pupils remaining in the same specialist provision. All 48 had school places allocated and had either a statement or an EHCP in place but of the 4 outstanding conversions past the deadline, these were either due to a pending direction of a school under parental preference, a parental request to delay the issue of the final EHCP due to additional amendments or due to the need for a reassessment of level of need. 20.03.16
Tower Hamlets London Borough Council 5 09.03.16
Waltham Forest London Borough Council 59 20.04.16
Wandsworth London Borough Council 4 110 (this figure includes children in special schools transferring from primary to secondary, including all age schools). The figure for mainstream schools only was 85. 24.03.16
South West 115
Bristol City Council 5 17.03.16
Devon County Council 29 16.03.16
Gloucestershire County Council 20 As at 1st March 2016, 222 children and young people with statements or EHCPs maintained by Gloucestershire County Council were in national curriculum year 6. Of the above, the statements for 202 pupils had been transformed to EHCPs. All of the EHCP transformations for these pupils were issued before 15th February 2016. 07.03.16
Poole Borough Council 43 43 pupils with statements or EHCPs are currently in year 6. 13 transition EHCPs were at the point of being finalised but no final transition EHCPs had been sent by 15^th February 2016. 21.03.16
South Gloucestershire Council 6 11.03.16
Torbay Council 3 The Council would have achieved 100% however there were 3 exceptions due to Grammar school timescales which meant that they were issued on 1st March (National Allocation Day). 16.03.16
Wiltshire Council 9 01.03.16
South East 900
Bracknell Forest Borough Council 49 16.03.16
Buckinghamshire County Council 114 09.03.16
Hampshire County Council 325 05.04.16
Isle of Wight Council 8 02.03.16
Kent County Council 59 523, of which 481 were issued final plans issued within 20 weeks. 101 exceeded 20 weeks. 29.03.16
Medway Council 38 17.03.16
Milton Keynes Borough Council 1 58 EHC plans, 18 statements - all these statements have now or are in process of being converted to an EHC plan 14.03.16
Oxfordshire County Council 47 02.03.16
Portsmouth City Council 23 24.02.16
Slough Borough Council 56 40 of the 56 children have had their draft final plan agreed by Slough Children’s Services Trust. The Trust awaits the naming of a secondary school for these children. Whilst no plans were finalised by the deadline, due in part to the transition of the service from Slough Borough Council to the Trust in October 2015, new systems are now in place to ensure that all children will have a final plan with a named school before the beginning of the autumn term. 16.03.16
Southampton City Council 62 02.03.16
West Berkshire District Council 2 18.03.16
West Sussex County Council 89 18.03.16
Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council 26 23.03.16
Wokingham Borough Council 1 15.03.16
East 340
Cambridgeshire County Council 19 24.03.16
Central Bedfordshire Council 8 03.06.16
Essex County Council 27 17.03.16
Norfolk County Council 53 22.03.16
Peterborough City Council 70 29.03.16
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council 37 18.03.16
Suffolk County Council 104 108 (Statemented Yr6 pupils in Primary & Junior schools only). 4 (another 2 with draft plans by 15/02/2016). 04.03.16
Thurrock Borough Council 22 23.03.16
West Midlands 430
Coventry City Council 6 9%
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council 20 A further 12 have received their Plans since then, making a total of 78 by 29 February 2016. 15%
County of Herefordshire District Council 42 26%
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council 7 17%
Shropshire Council 31 135
Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council 42 9%
Staffordshire County Council 136 9%
Stoke-on-Trent City Council 18 15%
Telford and Wrekin Borough Council 53 26%
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council 55 85 in total, 53 Mainstream, 29 Special School, 3 Cross Border 17%
Wolverhampton City Council 14 18 made final for EHCP and 7 received a Summary of Needs = 25 20%
Worcestershire County Council 6 9%
East Midlands 405
Derby City Council 108 24.03.16
Derbyshire County Council 99 All pupils will have had a local mainstream school place allocated but not every child will have had this, or any alternative preferred parental choice of school, confirmed in a Final Amended Statement or an EHC Plan by 15 February 2016. Any delays will have always been in the context of an individual pupil’s situation and the choice of school made by their parent, and overall requests for placements in these schools. 22.03.16
Leicester City Council 49 40 as we are still waiting for consultation responses to be returned from schools. 22.03.16
Leicestershire County Council 12 258 year 6 students with a statement or Education Health and Care Plan. Not all of these will have to transfer as some will be in all through Area Special Schools. 2. How many of these children received heir final transition Education Health Care Plan or statement by the 15 February 2016 deadline? 246 year 6 students (not all requiring amendment if in all through school) 29.03.16
Lincolnshire County Council 135 136 children with EHC Plans or Statements of SEN required a primary to secondary transfer in the academic year 2015/16.This number specifically relates to those children who were not in all through special schools. In response to this question we are considering a ‘final transition Education Health Care Plan to be one which was issued as a result of the process of transfer from Statement of SEN to EHC Plan and which also names the secondary school allocated for the new academic year 2016-17. As of the 15th February 2016 one child had an amended final EHC plan or Statement of SEN issued naming both their current placement and the agreed placement for September 2016. The majority of children had their secondary school identified but the Plans were still being finalised. 24.03.16
Rutland County Council 2 9%
Yorkshire and the Humber 425
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council 71 Some of the outstanding plans were because transfer reviews were not held in time, others due to placement not yet ratified particularly for specialist provision. 24.03.16
Bradford City Council 118 18.03.16
Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council 5 29.03.16
East Riding of Yorkshire Council 35 11.03.16
Hull City Council 9 There are 84 children in Year 6 with a statement of SEN or an education, health and care plan. Of these 84 children, 43 are transitioning from primary to secondary school in September 2016. 01.04.16
Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council 11 182 pupils with an EHC or statement will transition from Primary to Secondary (EHC/Statement would not be in place for specific transition requirements 24.03.16
Leeds City Council 32 A further 29 already attend an all through school (for ages 4 to 18) and therefore already had a secondary school offer. 01.04.16
North East Lincolnshire Borough Council 7 09.03.16
North Lincolnshire Borough Council 9 12.04.16
North Yorkshire County Council 14 16.03.16
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council 18 16.03.16
Sheffield City Council 74 23.03.16
Wakefield City Council 22 31.03.16
North West 763
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council 10 04.04.16
Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council 102 29.03.16
Bury Metropolitan Borough Council 7 23.03.16
Cheshire East Council 107 - 47 of those were already in special schools or grammar schools so will continue at that school - 54 that needed a change of placement were finalised before 15.02.2016 - 5 children who would have required a transfer moved out of the area between the start of the current academic year and now - 55 children were still waiting to be finalised. 06.04.16
Cheshire West and Chester Council 11 23.03.16
Cumbria County Council 9 Y6 data: 186 active; 9 pending; total: 195 04.04.16
Halton Borough Council 4 11.04.16
Lancashire County Council 50 18.04.16
Liverpool City Council 71 14.03.16
Manchester City Council 44 15.03.16
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council 81 Less than 5 finalised, no concrete number 30.03.16
Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council 2 07.03.16
Salford City Council 41 14.03.16
St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council 30 03.03.16
Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council 33 16.03.16
Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council 17 04.03.16
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council 144 Due to the capacity of the team we were unable to meet the deadline for the completed plans by 15 February, however, 131 placements received their first choice secondary school and the remaining placements have been agreed with parents. We have been in regular contact with parents throughout this process who were comfortable with this as they received the secondary school they requested. All plans will be completed and circulated to parents by the end of the Easter holidays. 01.04.16
North East 119
Darlington Borough Council 20 The local authority undertook EHC transfers for all year 6 pupils. Due to the high volumes of transfers some Final versions of EHC were not issued within the above timescales, however parents and schools were all informed of the places available by the 15 the February and places agreed by the 1 st 21.03.16
Durham County Council 2 03.03.16
Middlesbrough Borough Council 1 09.03.16
North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council 26 01.04.16
Northumberland County Council 7 The other 7 had Plan's in place but were awaiting confirmation of school place to be named in order to finalise. The requested specialist school was oversubscribed at the time. 04.04.16
Newcastle upon Tyne City Council 6 30.03.16
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council 12 04.04.16
South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council 28 25 children are now finalised within the 20 week timescale, 6 children are still waiting to be finalised but are still within the 20 week timescale. We are still waiting for paperwork to be returned for 5 children (out of 20 week timescale) and there were 6 children who returned late after the 20 week timescale. 24.03.16
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council 4 10.03.16
Sunderland City Council 13 04.05.16
TOTAL 3812

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