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Education, Health and Care plan deadline approaches - what should you do?

Tuesday 27th March 2018

For the past 3 ½ years the new framework for special educational needs (SEN) has been gradually rolled out in local authorities in England.

Statements of special educational needs have been replaced by Education Health and Care (EHC) plans, with transfers from the old to the new taking place in a phased way.

The final deadline in law for this process is 1 April 2018. However, some local authorities will not be able to meet this deadline, and so there will still be some statements in place after 1 April.

If your child still has a statement

If your child's statement still hasn't been transferred by 1 April, your local authority has failed to meet the deadline.

The Department for Education has said that any existing statements will remain in force after 1 April. While the statement is in place, the local authority remains legally responsible for reviewing it and arranging the extra support in it. There is more detailed information in the regulations.

The local authority must do a transfer review as soon as possible. This includes an EHC needs assessment. We suggest that you ask in writing when this will happen, and if the delay is unreasonable, make a formal complaint.

If you have a young person about to move on to another education setting, it is essential that the EHC plan is finalised well before the end of the school year.

Statements that might end before an EHC plan is in place

There are two categories of young people whose statement may end before the EHC plan is in place.

Young people turning 19

Unlike an EHC plan, a statement cannot legally remain in force beyond a young person's 19th birthday. A local authority can continue to provide the support in the statement until the end of the academic year, but they do not have to.

Young people aged 16- 19 who are moving to further education or training

A statement has no force in further education or training. If your son or daughter is moving on to college, or another education or training provision, they will need an EHC plan if they still need extra help for their education.

What if my child is in one of these two situations?

In both the situations above, the local authority should already have completed a transfer review.

If the process is still ongoing, or hasn't started yet, contact your local authority without delay to ask them to either begin or complete the transfer review as soon as possible. You may need to make a formal complaint.

Contact our helpline for advice on your particular situation.

Stick out for a proper transfer

Even if your local authority is behind target and under pressure to transfer a large number of statements in a short time, they must not shortcut the legal requirements. An EHC plan should never just be a rebadged statement.

The local authority must:

  • Give you at least two weeks' notice of the start of the process
  • Arrange a meeting as part of the transfer - this may take the place of a scheduled annual review
  • Fully involve parents and young people
  • Carry out a full EHC needs assessment incorporating information and advice from particular professionals, including from health and social care
  • Allow you to request that additional people be involved
  • Not reuse old reports unless they are still current and you are happy with this
  • Issue a final EHC plan within 18 weeks of the start of the transfer process

Remember, the threshold for getting an EHC plan is the same as for a statement, so all children or young people with a statement should get an EHC plan unless their needs have changed.

We're here to answer any question you have

If you have any questions about the transfer from statements or about EHC plans in general, the special educational needs team on our helpline is here to answer them.

You can call us any time, Monday-Friday, 9.30am-5pm.