All Local Authorities aim to adhere to the deadlines set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.
This specifies the following deadlines, which relate to a start date as the point at which a request for an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is received:
1. 6 weeks - decision whether to assess or not.
2. 16 weeks - decision whether to issue an EHC plan or not, if the answer here is yes, the draft plan should be provided for the Parents' comment.
3. 20 weeks - the finalised EHC plan should be issued naming the school or, in exceptional circumstances, the type of school.
Unfortunately it is all too common that these deadlines are missed. This has serious knock on effects for pupils and families. Delays could mean funding problems for schools resulting in difficulty supporting the placement; difficulties in the child or young person accessing the appropriate support or school; and delayed applications to appeal the Local Authority's decision.
It is therefore important that the deadlines are followed in order to ensure that the appropriate support is available for the child or young person as soon as possible.
Oxfordshire County Council only gets 31% of its education, health and care plans (EHCPs) for SEN children out within the 20 week government target. That is one of the lowest figures in the whole of the South East - and compares to 70% in Wiltshire and 82% in West Berkshire. Oxfordshire Council has told us it's chosen to focus on the quality of its care plans and ensuring all statements of SEN are transferred to EHC Plans by April 2018, rather than purely the 20 week timescale for completing individual EHC plans.