Concerns over delays in plans for post-16 students with SEN

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The majority of young people with special educational needs in Yorkshire who needed a support plan to help them move from school to college, did not have one in place by a March deadline, new figures reveal.

Education health and care (EHC) plans to support young people with SEN to stay in education after they turn 16 were supposed to be in place by the end of March this year.

However, figures obtained by a solicitors firm have revealed that in 791 cases in Yorkshire this plan was not in place by the deadline.

Imogen Jolley , the head of education at Simpson Millar solicitors, said the figures represented “a systemic problem which is affecting young people with special educational needs at a crucial time in their education.

“This clearly indicates a widespread lack of resources to meet a deadline which is both legal and essential,” she said.

However, councils have defended their work to ensure young people with SEN are supported.

Figures show that in Kirklees 200 out of 222 young people who needed an EHC plan for transitioning to college did not have one.

Elsewhere the vast majority of young people did have a plan in place by the deadline. In Calderdale 27 of the 40 students had a EHC plan ready and in York 30 of 45 students did.

Coun Megan Swift, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for children and Young People’s Services, said: “When creating EHC plans we work very closely with families, schools and colleges, providing support and advice and taking time to understand exactly what the young people’s needs are so we can ensure they reach their full potential.

“This intensive partnership work, plus the need for our small team to transfer about 1,000 statements of special educational need into EHC plans due to a change in legislation, means that we didn’t complete as many plans before the deadline as we would have liked.”

Caroline Rowley, the Yorkshire regional director for the Association of Colleges said: “In creating a new coherent system of support for young people with SEN partnerships with local authorities and other agencies have become increasingly important.

“There have been occasional reports of difficulties in creating and accessing EHC plans and in working with local authorities. Where this has occurred, AoC and colleges are working with DfE to make sure the system works well for young people and parents.”

She said the AoC and the Local Government Association were going to publish a joint best practice guide for colleges and councils.