Over 2000 SEN children across England were “left in limbo” as local authorities across the country miss the final transition education healthcare plan or statement deadline, which causes “unnecessary” confusion and distress, according to figures attained by education law specialists at law firm Simpson Millar.
Figures obtained via Freedom of Information request by the firm showed that in 2017, 103 local authorities reported a delay in the submission of Education and Healthcare Plans by their allocated deadline of 15 February. This means that almost a fifth of children are being left in limbo.
Simpson Millar notes that this failure to meet the deadline is in breach of their statutory duty, as failing to notify families of the lack of EHCP in place have less time to manage the transition process for their children.
Imogen Jolly, specialist education expert at Simpson Millar, said: “It’s the responsibility, and indeed the legal duty, of the local authorities 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.
“The February deadline is crucial for parents who need time to prepare their children – many of whom need additional support during times of change – 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 in the past is quite concerning and hugely upsetting for parents.”
The firm is urging parents to take note of the February deadline, as those who do not receive their healthcare plan by this Friday have the right to take legal action against their local authority.
“The sooner a parent takes action against a local authority who has missed a deadline the greater chance they stand of getting prepared for September. Authorities usually engage quickly with threatened legal action when they have missed deadlines, as they know the courts will not be impressed,” Imogen added.
“This time is crucial, so we’d urge parents to be vigilant, and to get in contact with our team of specialist education lawyers in the event of a missed deadline.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine