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Councils are drawing up thousands of new education, health and care plans (EHCPs) a year – 36,000 in 2016-17 and were supposed to have moved the existing SEN statements of around 237,000 children into the new plans, which involves conducting the same needs assessment. Some councils clearly just ‘tipped’ statements into plans in their rush to meet the April 2018 deadline, while many new plans are ‘not worth the paper they are written on’ because the health and social care teams have not engaged in the process. The legislation makes it clear that all SEN statements will continue to have legal status following the transfer deadline.
Undoubtedly implementing the legislation has been a major exercise for Councils at a time when budgets are tight and expertise is being lost as some councils cut back on staff or have seen experienced staff retire and be replaced by much more junior staff and outside contractors. Anecdotal evidence is that councils have transferred some really poor EHCPs and that many of these transfers often rely only on paper exercises conducted by low-level, inexperienced staff at private providers working on absurdly-low fees.
Many Councils are also seemingly using EHCPs to cut provision from what was in a child’s SEN statement, with greater use of generic approaches so there is less consideration of the child’s individual needs.
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