Children left waiting for new school plans

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Twelve children with special educational needs did not receive new plans for secondary school in time from Peterborough City Council.

Out of 90 SEN pupils moving from primary to secondary school this September, a dozen were without a transitional Education Health Care (EHC) plan before the statutory deadline of February 15.

A Peterborough City Council spokesman said: “We are pleased with the progress we’ve made this year which is a significant improvement on the previous 12 months and we aim to improve further in 2018.

“Eighty-seven per cent of Year 6 EHC plans were issued, confirming the school placement, by the February 15 deadline. All remaining plans were completed by March 21.”

He added that issuing EHC plans “continues to be a challenge for councils,” but that “these results show we are performing better than a number of neighbouring authorities.”

Asked what happens if the council misses the deadline, the spokesman replied that the Department for Education “will contact a council if they have concerns. We haven’t been contacted.”

Nationally, figures obtained by specialist education lawyers Simpson Millar revealed 2,405 children in 103 local authority areas had not received their plans by February 15.

Cambridgeshire County Council had 152 children needing an EHC plan. According to Simpson Millar it missed the deadline for 36 of them, but the county council said it was actually 28, with eight children not at a stage where their final EHC plan could be issued.

A spokeswoman said: “The delays were due to us not receiving information about the child’s preferred school in good time. Of those 28 that were late, 46 per cent of these had been issued with a proposed EHC plan naming the school for September 2017.”

All plans are now finalised.

Samantha Hale, from Simpson Millar, said: “Parents of children with special educational needs are understandably often anxious about school changes, and their opportunity to review and challenge the provision set out in these plans is severely hampered if they are not provided on time.”

She added: “If the plans are not issued on time, parents who wish to appeal the provision set out in it might not be able to have it heard by a tribunal.”