ehcp delays mean that by the time my sons ehcp is completed there will be no special school places available. Is there a way I can prevent this?

Our son will be 5 in October and has complex drug resistant epilepsy with epileptic encepathopathy, GDD and ASD. His nursery has been amazing but has had very little support and guidance, he has 1:1 at nursery and extra funding.

He can have up to 100 seizures a day, these can be extremely violent and throw him forward often causing head and facial injuries, he has very limited communication and cannot communicate his wants or needs, he is still in nappies, he has no awareness of danger, he will put anything and everything in his mouth. mainstream would be unsafe for both him and everyone else.

We are on week 16 of the ehcp and my son has just been allocated an educational psychologist.
The LA has a shortage of EPs and have said his outcomes meeting will be on the week beginning the 29th of may. (although they did say this would be brought forward once ep had done her report)

Our 2 nearest schools between them have about 20 places. I'm worried that the ehcp will be too late and he will not have a place. He's an October baby so I can defer him for a term but only if the nursery has space for him.

Is there any way to speed up the LA or somehow have them hold a school space? They have reports from SALT, OT, neurodiability, PNI teachers, GOSH etc etc seems silly to wait for one report when they already know he will need a place at a special school.
What happens if they don't complete the ehcp within the 20 week timescale?


Francesca B
28 Mar 2023

Answer Now

A: SenseCheck

  • 2 Yes
  • 0 No
  • 0 Other


  • 03 Apr 2023
  • Yes


    Is there any way to speed up the LA? There's no guaranteed way to speed up an LA. There's good advice in Sean Kennedy's answer (politely ask if they can get a move on). Perhaps that discussion should be with a senior member of the council's SEND team to explain your concerns over not meeting the 20 week deadline and asking how this would be resolved so the legal deadline is met?

    If that gets you nowhere, the council complaints procedure can then be used and, if you've exhausted them, the Local Government Ombudsman can be contacted. Problem is though that neither of these are likely to resolve quickly. You shouldn't need to wait til after 20 weeks (or the 29th May) to complain to the council complaints procedure (because the SEND team have already told you that they will miss the legal deadline). It's fair to tell the SEND team what you are thinking of doing (so they can resolve it without it going thru complaints team if they can).

    When speaking with the SEND team, remember they are generally good people trying to make the best of an imperfect system. There's lots of stories online of parent's disatisfaction and I accept their lived experience. That said, when SEN officers do great work, we don't recognise this enough. So, have an open mind.

    What happens if they don't complete the EHCP within the 20 week timescale? In practice, not much in the way of consequences (other than arguably for the child/family and sometimes staff/setting) unless you complain (see above).

    Can schools hold places? They shouldn't really. Holding places would mean turning another child down for a reason that doesn't fit 9.79 of the Code of Practice (the bit of the SEND Code of Practice that tells you the rules on schools refuses admission of EHCP kids).

    Aaron King

    Aaron King
    9000 Lives SEND Consultancy

  • 29 Mar 2023
  • Yes


    I would very much be interested in reading what any SEN experts have to say, but these are my first thoughts. 

    Firstly, the "Timescales of EHC plans" must be completed "as soon as practicable, and in any event within 20 weeks of the local authority receiving a request for an EHC needs assessment" - hence 20 weeks should normally be the upper time limit.

    Secondly, a child does not necessarily need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to attend a special school, but having an EHCP is needed to ensure that the child's special educational needs (SEN) are properly identified and met. 

    It therefore follows that a parent can approach an LA and ask for a child to be placed in a special school before an EHCp is issued. 

    If statutory timescales for an EHCNA are not adhered to, parents always complain using the LA's compliants procedure, possibly after first politely asking them to get a move on:


    All this assumes that this child can be educated in school and EOTAS has been considered and deemed not to be applicable:



    Sean Kennedy

    Sean Kennedy
    Talem Law