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Council misses 'crucial' school allocation deadline for children with special educational needs

More than 20 children with special educational needs have been left in limbo about which school they will be attending after Slough Borough Council missed a statutory deadline.

Local authorities were legally required to tell families of children with an education healthcare plan which school they would be going to by the deadline of February 15.

But a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that, in 2019, 23 children in the borough experienced delays, which amounts to more than a quarter (26 per cent) of children with an Educational Healthcare Plan.

Education law firm Simpson Millar, which submitted the FOI, said this left families with less time to manage the transition process for children, many of whom struggle to adapt.

Imogen Jolley, specialist education expert, said: “The February deadline was crucial for parents who needed time to prepare their children, many of whom need additional support during times of change, for the transition, and for those who wish to appeal the provision or placement set out in the plan.

“The fact that Slough Borough Council has been unable to meet the deadline is quite concerning and hugely upsetting for parents.”

An education healthcare plan details the support that is to be provided to a child or young person with special educational needs or disability.

Ms Jolley added that the February deadline had been introduced to ensure parents have enough time to lodge an appeal if they are unhappy with a school allocation.

A spokeswoman for Slough Borough Council said: “The Slough SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Service works hard to ensure that we not only meet statutory deadlines but also obtain placements of parental preference.

“In some cases we need to work more closely with the school preferred by parents to alleviate the concerns the school might have in meeting the pupils’ needs as identified within the Education, Health and Care Plan.

“Provision for pupils in those cases was not able to be confirmed by February 15, but the majority of those places are now confirmed.”

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