I have been asking local authorities for the paperwork they send to parents when a child or young person is due to transfer from a statement to an Education Health and Care Plan. My request was specifically about home educated children but many councils have just provided their standard letters and forms which apply to ALL children and young people.
I have found 2 very helpful documents setting out the process
What the law says
20 weeks is the maximum time for transferring a statement to an EHC Plan, comprising a minimum of 2 weeks notice followed by 18 weeks before the final plan is issued. (Up to September 2015 it was 14 weeks but this has now been extended to 18)
There has to be at least one meeting during the transfer review process but as explained by Ipsea, this doesn’t have to be at the beginning.
A first draft of the Plan has to be provided with sufficient time for the family to respond before the final deadline. Ipsea Transition Timetable says by week 12 while the Council for Disabled Children Timescales of Transfer Reviews says by week 14.
NB Because the legislation sets out a timescale of 18 weeks plus 2 weeks notice, some commentators logically refer to “minus 2 weeks” followed by week 1 to 18. Hence “week 12” or “week 14” refer to 6 weeks/4 weeks before the final deadline.
From my research into the letters sent families about EHCP transfers, many local authorities are opting to start the process of converting a statement to a plan by giving parents 2 weeks notice of “the transfer review meeting”. This may be out of convenience – because it follows the normal statement review procedure – or because the authority believes this is what the law dictates. This may be the only meeting the authority normally expects to have.
A typical transfer review meeting might go through the statement asking EHCP-type questions such as “what is the child/young person good at” and “what are their hopes for the future.”
Information derived from “the transfer review meeting” is used either to decide that the statement will be ceased with no need for a Plan, or alternatively it may form the basis of the EHC Plan.
Another scenario is where the authority will already have taken information from the statement to pre-populate an EHC Plan template and “the transfer review meeting” will be more of a conversation about “outcomes” and asking for quotes to fill out certain parts of the Plan. This is described as making the process more person-centred.
Parents may be asked directly if they think any new assessments are required, and sometimes the council might imply that the Government doesn’t want them to do new assessments – or that they aren’t allowed to do any new assessments – unless the parent specifically requests it.
Where new reports ARE requested, the Government says these must be supplied within 6 weeks, and this is something that local authorities do invariably mention.
From my research so far it seems that some local authorities don’t necessarily expect to provide a first draft of the EHC Plan, and families might not see anything before the final draft.
Reference for 18 weeks The Children and Families Act 2014 (Transitional and Saving Provisions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2015 which amended The Children and Families Act 2014 (Transitional and Saving Provisions) (No. 2) Order 2014
Reference for 2 weeks notice The Children and Families Act 2014 (Transitional and Saving Provisions) (No. 2) Order 2014
Reference for flexible timing over meeting
Reference for 6 week deadline on advice
Reference for draft plan deadline
S 38 Children and Families Act 2014 + Regulation 13, Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014
38 Preparation of EHC plans: draft plan
(1)Where a local authority is required to secure that an EHC plan is prepared for a child or young person, it must consult the child’s parent or the young person about the content of the plan during the preparation of a draft of the plan.
(2)The local authority must then—
(a)send the draft plan to the child’s parent or the young person, and
(b)give the parent or young person notice of his or her right to—
(i)make representations about the content of the draft plan, and
(ii)request the authority to secure that a particular school or other institution within subsection (3) is named in the plan.
Timescales for EHC plans
13.—(1) When a local authority sends a draft plan to a child’s parent or young person it must—
(a)give them at least 15 days, beginning with the day on which the draft plan was served, in which to—
(i)make representations about the content of the draft plan, and to request that a particular school or other institution be named in the plan; and
(ii)require the local authority to arrange a meeting between them and an officer of the local authority at which the draft plan can be discussed; and
(b)advise them where they can find information about the schools and colleges that are available for the child or young person to attend.