SEN children waiting too long for EHC plan

The BBC has reported that thousands of children in England with special educational needs are waiting too long for an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Asking 152 councils in England about the time it took to issue EHC plans over the last four academic years, 26,505 applications took longer than 20 weeks to finalise, including more than 6,000 last year alone. Legally, councils should normally finalise EHC plans, which set out a child's needs and the support to which they are entitled, within 20 weeks. In total, 52 councils have taken more than a year to finalise an EHC plan for at least one child.

With around four in 10 plans taking longer that what is expected, the analysis revealed that the longest wait for an individual application was in Suffolk, with the council taking 1,023 days, or nearly three years, to finalise one EHCP application.

The number of requests for EHC plans has soared in recent years, with 16,696 requests for a needs assessment received by 61 authorities in 2014-15, but that figure rose to 28,507 in 2017-18 - a 70 per cent increase. Of that, West Sussex County Council told the BBC it had seen a 44 per cent increase in the number of EHC plans it holds over the last four years.