The Legal status of statements after 1st April 2018 and action you need to take
IPSEA has been monitoring conversations on social media regarding the transition deadline of 1 April for those with Statements of Special Educational Needs under the Education Act 1996 to transfer to Education Health and Care plans under the Children and Families Act 2014. The legal position of those with Statements will vary. For those children or young people who are moving onto further education or who turn 19 on or after 1 April 2018, parents will need to take immediate action as their Statement will have no effect once they leave school (for those moving to FE) or once they turn 19, whichever happens first. (Local authorities have the power to continue to maintain a Statement until the end of the academic year in which a student at school turns 19, but they are not legally obliged to do so.)
What stage are you at?
Children or young people with Statements who are planning to move to further education or who are turning 19 on or after 1 April 2018
If the child/young person has a Statement where the transfer process has not yet started, or will not be completed by 1 April 2018 Legally, the Statement will cease to have effect as there is no legal basis for a Statement to exist for those aged 19+ or in further education colleges. The DfE has instructed local authorities that no child or young person can lose their special educational provision as a result of failing to meet the transitions deadline, but there is nothing in law to protect these two groups of young people. Contact your local authority as soon as possible using our model letter to complain about the fact that either transition hasn’t been started, or that a plan hasn’t been issued.
All other children or young people
If you have a Statement and the transition process has not yet started Transition should have already started for all children and young people with Statements, so your LA has clearly missed its deadlines. However, you will still be protected under the old law, so your child’s Statement will continue until they are transferred to an EHC plan. The LA must continue to make the provision in the Statement, and it must still be reviewed at least once a year. No immediate action is required. You may wish to complain about late start to transition if you are not happy with the current provision in the Statement and think it would be beneficial to have an EHC needs assessment. If so, you can use our model letter.
If you have a Statement, and transition has already been started but will not be completed by 1 April 2018 You will be protected under the old law, so your child’s Statement will continue until they are transferred to an EHC plan. However, while transition is ongoing the Statement cannot be reviewed (such as in an annual review) and you cannot appeal against the contents of the Statement. No immediate action is required, although if the transition is taking longer than 18 weeks, you may wish to complain about the delay using our model letter. This may be particularly necessary where you are unhappy with the content of the current Statement and need the EHC plan to be issued in order to obtain (for example) additional provision or a different placement.
In the unlikely event that you have had either an assessment or an appeal ongoing since September 2014, the situation is slightly different – once the Statement is issued it will take effect as if it were an EHC plan.
Finally, remember that all transitions should involve a full EHC needs assessment. This means information should be sought from a wide range of professionals, including an educational psychologist. You can read more about EHC needs assessments here. Further general information about transitions can be found on our website here.