A firm of education specialists has claimed ‘Peterborough City Council is short changing youngsters with special needs’ after it was revealed a large percentage of teenagers did not have a plan prepared in time.
Figures obtained under Freedom of Information by education specialists at Simpson Millar show how 114 councils failed to meet the new deadline for issuing Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan for young people with special educational needs this spring.
The plans are meant to help children who are transferring from school (including sixth forms) to a post-16 institution or an apprenticeship in September. In 2014/15, the post-16 EHC plans had to be issued by 31 May 2015 - and it has been revealed Peterborough City Council had only prepared 50 out of 184 plans by the deadline.
Imogen Jolley, head of Education at Simpson Millar, is shocked at the result. She said: “Local authorities have a legal duty to prepare and issue EHC plans for young people with special educational needs – setting out their transition from school to a college placement or apprenticeship. “The new deadline was intended to allow parents time to prepare their young person for a transition which can otherwise cause a great degree of stress and anxiety.”
She said a large number of local authorities had failed to meet the deadlines to provide the plans.
She added: “We have clearly uncovered a systemic problem which is affecting thousands of young people with special educational needs at a crucial time in their education. Shortcomings this clearly indicates a widespread lack of resources to meet a deadline which is both legal and essential. What’s the point in having a deadline if local authorities have scant regard for it, or are entirely unable to meet it? This is an issue that needs addressing now.”
Education solicitor James Betts from Simpson Millar is advising parents of teenagers who are yet to receive their children’s post-16 transition plan. He says: “Thousands young people are being short-changed by local authorities up and down the country – leaving parents who are already worried about their transition chasing plans that should have been issued months ago. As time runs out, so does the opportunity for parents to challenge the placements and provision offered in the plans. Perhaps that is what the local authorities are hoping for.”
The Peterborough Telegraph has asked Peterborough City Council for a comment on the report.