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Deadline for Post-16 EHCPs

Sunday 31st March 2024 was the final date for Local Authorities to fulfil their statutory duties in finalising all Education Health Care Plans (EHCP’s) for young people with special educational needs and disabilities who plan to transition to Post-16 education in September 2024. If your Local Authority has failed to meet this legal deadline, please read below to see how we can assist.

The above deadline is in place to ensure that that there is a suitable time period before your child is due to start their placement in September 2024. The five-month window allows parents and young people to consider their prospective placement and prepare for the transition, whilst also having the opportunity to challenge the contents of the EHCP including the provisions and potential placements identified, in the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (‘SEND Tribunal’).

Under Regulation 18 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, Local Authorities have a legal duty to amend an EHCP where a child or young person is due to transfer from a Secondary School to a Post-16 placement by 31St March. If your child is transitioning from one Post-16 placement to another, this deadline may vary by a few additional days, as the law is slightly different for these transfers. However, it is useful to use the 31st March deadline as a guideline if uncertainty remains around the placement your child is expected to attend from September 2024.

If your Local Authority has failed to comply with this legal duty (given that the deadline has now passed), please get in touch with our specialist SEN team here at HCB Solicitors. We will be able to advise you on how to challenge your Local Authority’s failure to fulfil its statutory duties. This can be challenged through either a claim for Judicial Review or a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. You cannot pursue both options and therefore we recommend seeking advice from a specialist SEN solicitor on which of these would be more appropriate in your case. 

From experience we have found that sending the Local Authority a detailed legal letter called a Pre-Action Letter (also known as a Letter Before Claim) normally leads to the Local Authority issuing the Final Amended EHCP and quicker than the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman would consider a complaint.  

We are on hand to discuss these options and to analyse which cause of action would be best suited for your case. It is important to remember that the failure to adhere to the legal deadline means that the Local Authority responsible have acted unlawfully. It is extremely important that the accountable Local Authority is contacted as soon as possible to ensure that any subsequent disruption to your child’s education is minimised. This is particularly important when an appeal to the SEND Tribunal is required, as until the Final EHCP is issued, you will not have a right to appeal. Furthermore, the SEND Tribunal is dealing with an exceptional number of appeals, meaning this process is taking longer than it should, and could extend into the next academic year.

If your Local Authority has complied with this deadline and you are not satisfied with the contents of the EHCP and/ or the placement named in Section I, you are entitled to submit an appeal to the SEND Tribunal once you receive your finalised EHCP. Our SEN solicitors are experts in the field and can assist you through the entire process of the appeal.

Once the Final EHCP is issued, you have a deadline in which an appeal should be submitted to the SEND Tribunal. This deadline is the latest date out of the following: 

1.    Within two months from the date the EHCP was finalised; or 
2.    Within 1 month of the mediation certificate, which you are required to obtain in most appeals, with the exception of those made against placement only.  

However, we recommend that you lodge your appeal as soon as possible. Tribunals across the country are experiencing significant delays and some hearings are now being listed for January 2025. Whilst phase transfer appeals are being prioritised and are being given earlier hearing dates, a large number of these appeals were still given hearing dates in the next academic year and therefore after the phase transfer should have taken place.  A prompt appeal will maximise the chance of having your case heard as soon as possible.

Should you require any assistance in this regard, please do not hesitate to get in touch.  If you would like to discuss your matter with one of our specialist education legal team, please contact us on 0333 202 7175 or alternatively email