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17 May 2024

Children with special educational needs must be assessed promptly: our education team comments on Essex County Council’s failure to meet deadlines

2 mins

A senior Ofsted official has stated that too many families are being let down by delays in children with special educational needs being assessed. Mike Sheridan, Ofsted’s regional director for the East of England, has said that the watchdog was ‘absolutely aware’ of lengthy delays faced by young people living in Essex.  

Karen May, head of our Education Law team, comments:

Essex Councillors have been faced with angry and frustrated parents over significant delays to the preparation and updating of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) for children with the most significant special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Shortly after, Ofsted criticised Essex over the issue. I have written recently about how important the legal time limits for assessing children and preparing EHCPs are. Every time Essex fails to meet the legal deadlines, it leaves a child with complex education, health and social care needs without the support they are entitled to. For some children, it means going without education altogether. This can cause long lasting or even irrecoverable damage, and forces families into expensive and stressful legal proceedings simply to get the process concluded.

We have seen this in our own casework in which Essex have repeatedly failed to meet deadlines. Bindmans are currently representing Essex children where the damage caused to a family by local authority delays is abundantly clear. We urge Essex to listen to the frustration of families and get to grips with this situation quickly.

Karen May, Partner in our Education Law team recently published a blog relating to this article. For more information, click here.

Our specialist Education law team can offer expert advice in relation to the issues discussed in this article. Visit our web page here for more information about our services, or get in touch by completing our enquiry form

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