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(UK) Bournemouth: 65% of special ed plans fail deadlines; large increase in requests'

Oct 12, 2022, Bournemouth Daily Echo: Deadline missed on 65 per cent of BCP EHCPs for young people

South coast of England

ALMOST two in every three plans issued by BCP Council to assist children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities who need more support were not issued failed to hit the specified deadline.

The local authority issued 507 new education, health and care plans (EHCPs) in 2021. However, 332 of these (65 per cent) were completed beyond the 20-week timeframe stipulated by government.

While this was an improvement on the previous year where just 23 per cent were issued on time, it remains significantly worse than the 2019 figure of 89 per cent on deadline…..

Councils are responsible for creating EHCPs, with a draft sent to a parent or carer of a child before the family has 15 days to comment on what is contained in the document.

Local authorities are supposed to up to a maximum of 20 weeks from the date they receive a request for an assessment to the delivery of the final EHCP….

The figures on BCP Council’s failure to meet the 20-week deadline in recent years have been revealed following a Freedom of Information request by the Daily Echo.

The number of new EHCPs issued by the council, excluding reviews, has increased by 47 per cent from 2019 to 2021, having dropped in 2020 – likely due to the pandemic.

BCP Council said it was facing a “challenging environment”, with a national shortage of educational psychologists making it difficult to recruit and retain the staff needed to issue EHCPs within the target timeframe.

Asked what steps have been taken to improve, a council spokesperson said: “We have a proactive plan in place to improve our performance….

“Our SEND leadership is preparing proposals to increase the number of case officers and technical business support.

“This will help to make sure we can deal with the large increase in requests to assess. The SEND team has already recruited several additional case officers and the service has been re-designed to reduce caseloads and enable all case officers to work on EHC assessments.”


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