Camden Council among authorities ‘failing’ special needs pupils by delaying care plans

Twenty-nine of 30 pupils did not receive their ECHP in time. Picture: PA

Twenty-nine of 30 pupils did not receive their ECHP in time. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

All Camden special needs pupils leaving secondary school – except one – this year are among more than 10,000 across the country being “failed” by councils, it has been claimed.

Essential care plans were not in place for 29 out of 30 pupils moving to colleges, sixth-forms or apprenticeships in the borough this year by the government’s deadline of March 31, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

Education Health Care Plans (ECHP) are a legal requirement.

They identify the pupil’s educational, health and social needs and set out their required support, ensuring all authorities are kept up-to-date with the child’s needs.

More than 100 teenagers in both Barnet and Haringey also did not receive their EHCP by the deadline, the data shows.

Law firm Simpson Millar, which requested the data, said councils nationwide were “failing” pupils with special needs.

Camden Council said it has now issued half of the EHCPs.

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Cllr Angela Mason, cabinet member for children at Camden Council, said: “It is a complex process. We have to balance producing reports in a timely manner with ensuring that we produce personal, meaningful plans, detailing our young people’s aspirations and including the full range of support they need to succeed.

“We acknowledge we need to improve this process and will be working even more closely with schools, parents and our young people with special educational needs to get this right and support them in their move from school to college.

“The responsibility to compile ECH plans is a relatively new one for councils and local authorities up and down the country have struggled to meet the deadlines for delivering them.”

A spokesman from Barnet Council said: “We have made intensive efforts to make sure the majority of plans are in place for our pupils, and 102 of the 113 plans required have now been issued. We are working on finalising the remaining plans.

“The original deadline of 31 March was set nationally and most local authorities found this a challenge to meet.

“The new processes demanded the recruitment and training of staff and implementation of new IT systems. Nationally, this took longer than expected. Barnet has now closed the gap and finalised all but a handful of plans.”

A spokesman for Haringey Council added that ECHPs are “complex assessments”.

He said: “Haringey currently has 34 final and 48 draft Education, Health and Care plans for 82 young people in the year 11 and year 13, with the remaining 31 to be issued in draft form over summer which we are confident will be issued in good time.

“Every young person in Haringey with an Education, Health and Care plan or transferring from a statement has been offered their college place.”