Co-authored by Steven Baylis, Associate Solicitor for Education and Public Law

Legal deadlines approaching to secure special educational needs support for children

By 15 February every year local authorities must issue the final Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans for all pupils transferring between different phases of education, except those transferring from year 11 to post-16 education, for whom EHC Plans must be finalised by 31 March.

The 15 February date is a legal deadline and must be complied with. If the local authority does not issue the final amended EHC Plan by this date the failure can be challenged through a legal claim of judicial review. Just sending a legal letter to a council that has not complied with the duty is often all it takes to resolve the problem.

When the final EHC Plan is issued the local authority must provide a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. That allows an appeal to be brought by parents or young people which they can exercise if they disagree with the content of the EHC Plan, including the school named by the local authority in section I of the EHC Plan. So if the school named by the local authority is not the one you or your child would like to attend, you can appeal to the Tribunal and ask them to order your preferred school.

Appeals to the Tribunal can also currently be registered under the National Trial. This allows the Tribunal not only to make decisions about the education sections of the EHC Plan, but also make non-binding recommendations about health and social care. This can be beneficial in many cases, particularly where a residential school is requested.

At Irwin Mitchell we have an experienced team of solicitors who regularly conduct appeals to the Tribunal and challenge local authorities for the failure to meet their legal duties. If your local authority has not issued the final EHC Plan by 15 February, or if you disagree with the content of the EHC Plan, our solicitors will be able to advise you on how we can assist.