Replacement SEN Statements cause 'postcode lottery in school funding'

Laxmi Patel recently contributed to an article in School’s Week in response to a Freedom of Information request highlighting significant differences between local authorities in the number of assessments completed in the first year of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Based on the responses, only 45% of requests for an EHC needs assessment resulted in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

“Education solicitor Laxmi Patel of Boyes Turner said the variation in the proportion of EHCPs issued across councils “is another example of postcode lottery that should not be happening”.

Ms Patel also said all requests for an EHCPs should be “completed within the 20 week timetable so that the child’s needs can be assessed and appropriate provision put in place immediately”.

A government statistical release published last May said early indications “show 64.3 per cent of new EHCPs issued from September to December 2014 were within the 20 week time limit”.

Ms Patel said reasons for the variation could be that requests for assessments came later in the year – meaning the plans were not issued in time to be included in the FOI statistics.

But also added: “The figures could also indicate something is going very wrong. It could mean LAs are carrying out assessments but not issuing plans.”

One trend she has seen over the past year is LAs turning down requests for plans and instead ask schools to apply for support, rather than have parents apply for a plan.

“LAs will say this avoids the need for parents to go through the process of assessment leading to an EHCP. However, an EHCP is a legally binding document that enshrines a child’s right to the support included in the plan. Local provision does not carry the same right.”

Laxmi’s article can be found here.

I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved. 

James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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