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Friday, 24 July 2020 15:54

Education, Health and Care Plans in Kent

Index

 Education Health and Care Plans in Kent 2018-19
I have not previously collected data on these for several years, and so the table below draws on national statistics for earlier years. This shows the large leap in new EHCPs for the Year 2018-19, up by 80% in less than three years. This article does not explore the overall cost of SEND in Kent, but it is soaring as a result of such events and putting extreme pressure on school budgets.

The figures in the tables do not flow together easily, as there will be considerable overlap between school years as decisions are often drawn out.

The funding pressure will play its part in relations between families and KCC Officers, as the latter attempt to keep costs under control, often setting up conflict, a key factor in the poor relationships identified in the Ofsted Report.  This will have played its part in the result that fewer than two-thirds of requests for a Statutory Assessment are followed through. However, for those that persist and are considered, 90% are successful, albeit some after subsequently appealing to a Tribunal. As the Ofsted Report makes clear, an EHCP is not the be-all with far to many being described as ‘weak’ in other words not meeting the pupil’s needs.

My mantra for families of children with SEND has I am afraid, been in the past ‘fight, fight and fight again’, for it is too often easier to give up in a hostile environment trying to keep costs down. It comes with the caveat that those who have contacted me in the past have been families whose children had real unmet needs, and I acknowledge that there will be many making unreasonable demands on the system (see below). When I was governor of a Special School I regularly spoke with families who got lost in the complexity of the whole system, one family I recall dealing with 14 often unconnected officers and advisers involved with their case. From the Report: ‘A parent expressed the views of many when they described their efforts to get their child the support they needed as a ‘constant minefield’.  

 Education Health Care Plans in Kent 2018-19
   Kent FOI
Calendar Year
New Plans*
  2018-19 2018 2017 2016
Requests for a statutory assessment of SEN 2894      
Statutory assessments carried out 1616      
New EHC Plans issued 1812 1787 1472 1004
Requests for EHC Plans declined 210      

 * DfE Data

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
For 2018-19, 542 families took their cases to Tribunal, either to secure an EHCP or to change its terms, although most were resolved before a hearing, with just 56 being formally considered. Again, many of these will flow over two years because of delay or simply reaching the end of one year. There is no detail to show how many of these were settled ‘out of court’ or the nature of any settlement. In many cases, KCC will have simply conceded the claim if their chances of success are not high, because of the cost involved. 
 
Many appeals will be to change the nature or level of support offered through an EHCP, others to change the name of the school named in it. It is likely that most of these will be to secure a place in a Special School (there is immense pressure on the system, with nearly all schools being full to bursting as shown in my survey of provision). Too many parents appeal to Tribunal to try and win places at private Special Schools after they have been awarded these at good state local Special Schools. The table below shows the rapid increase in the number of such funded placements, almost doubling in three years, yet another massive drain on Local Authority funding. Few of these places will have been awarded through the initial EHCP, many by a Tribunal decision and probably even more by the threat of Tribunal, with KCC reckoning it is best not to throw good money after bad by defending a case they are probably not going to win. 
 
 Kent Appeals to the Special Educational Needs
and Disability Tribunal 2018-19​
Appeals lodged 542
Appeals heard 56
Appeals upheld in full 41
Appeals upheld in part 5
Appeals Rejected - Data not Held by KCC
Number of Cases awaiting a Hearing 84

The next page looks at placements of children with EHCPs in schools 2018-19


Last modified on Tuesday, 28 July 2020 07:05

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