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Are Local Authorities failing children with SEN?

A recent news article on Devon online discusses the how Devon County Council is failing children with Special Educational Needs. The article is based on an inspection report carried out by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission which highlighted that too many parents  feel stressed, isolated and unsupported when it comes to their children’s Special Educations Needs and that their needs are simply not being met.

A significant issue is that Devon County Council is failing to produce EHCPs within the statutory deadline. The SEND Code of Conduct states that once a Statutory Assessment has been carried out, and the local authority decide to issue and EHCP, the Local Authority must do this within 20weeks of the original request. If the LA decides not to issue an EHCP, they must inform the parent or young person of this and their right to appeal within 16 weeks of the original request.  The delay in issuing an EHCP often leads to the plan being outdated. More importantly, it can result in a child or young person to not receive necessary Special Education Needs support, to be placed in an inappropriate provision, or in some cases it can result in the child receiving no education at all.

The article then goes on to discuss when an EHCP has actually been issued. An EHCP needs to adequately set out a child or young person’s Special Educational Needs, it needs to specify and quantify the teaching, additional intervention and Special Education Needs support that they require and name an appropriate provision that will meet their needs. The article states that the EHCPs issued by Devon County Council are often very poor, ‘too many plans have gaps in the provision and support, particularly to meet the health and care needs of children and young people with SEND’.  Again, this is resulting in too many children not having their Special Educational Needs sufficiently met. Many plans are outdated and do not accurately reflect the child’s needs, abilities or outcomes.

The overall impact of this can be severely consequential for a child or young person. It can prevent them from developing academically and socially which can then prevent them coping independently as an adult in later life. These failures also have a significant impact on the parents and families of children and young people with SEND. It can cause significant stress, frustration and anxiety. This is certainly the case when families feel unsupported and there is poor communication.

Unfortunately, these issues are not only apparent in Devon County Council but also many other Local Authorities. The process of obtaining an adequate EHCP can be tough and difficult to grasp. At HCB Solicitors we are SEN specialist lawyers. We work alongside Local Authorities every day and know how to best argue your case and obtain an EHCP for your child to provide them with the necessary Special Education Needs Support. If you are struggling to obtain an EHCP, or you feel that your child’s needs are not being met, please do get in touch for further discussion with one of our SEN solicitors as to how we can assist on 0333 202 7175 or email