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Dozens of children with special needs were “left in limbo” after Cheshire East Council failed to meet 2019 school allocation deadline, say specialist lawyers.

Experts say 34 SEN children out of a total of 134 suffered delays in receiving their transition education healthcare plans or statements for 2019.

Families of children who have an EHCP in place should have been told legally which school place they had been allocated by February 15.

But education law experts at Simpson Millar say a Freedom of Information request shows around 25% of those in Cheshire East did not receive one in time.

The authority said today it has resolved 30 of those 34 outstanding cases, but admitted the delay will have caused anxiety for families.

Families who are not noitified of their school by the deadline have less time to manage the transition process for the children, many of whom struggle to adapt.

Specialist education expert Imogen Jolley, from Simpson Millar, said: “It’s the responsibility, and indeed legal duty, of local authorities to carry out a Transition Review and an Education Health and Care needs assessment for children with a Statement of Special Educational Needs who will be moving into secondary school this September.

“The February deadline was crucial for parents who needed time to prepare their children – many of whom need additional support during times of change – for the transition, and for those who wish to appeal the provision or placement set out in the plan.

“The fact that Cheshire East Council have been unable to meet the deadline is quite concerning and hugely upsetting for parents.

“By missing the deadline, it means parents have less time to appeal a decision, and because of this it’s not uncommon for children to miss the start of a school year while the appeal process takes place.

“For any child, missing out on the start of school can have a detrimental effect, but this is particularly true for children with additional educational or health related needs.

“For those that failed to meet the deadline, it is possible they will be subjected to legal action to hold them accountable for failing to meet their statutory duty.”

A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said: “Cheshire East Council takes very seriously its responsibilities for ensuring identification of high school placements for children with special educational needs.

“We always strive to meet the statutory deadline of 15 February, for all children, but we accept this has not been possible in respect of every child, due to ongoing discussions with either the education providers or the child’s parents or carers.

“At the present time, we have resolved 30 of the outstanding cases, leaving four still to be placed and we expect to be able to conclude those placements soon.

“We acknowledge that this can be an anxious time for families and we will continue to work very closely with parents where a placement is not yet secured.”

One Comment

  1. Elizabeth McKay Fraser says:

    Cheshire East you are a disgrace…..

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