As parents, we want the best for our children, especially when it comes to their education. When local authorities fall short of their legal responsibilities in processing Education, Health, and Care (EHC) needs assessments or managing the EHCP (Education, Health, and Care Plan), it can be a stressful and frustrating experience. However, it’s essential to know that you have legal rights and recourse to hold the council accountable for their actions. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of ensuring that your child receives the support they deserve.
Parents can hold the council to account by way of a judicial review process which begins with something called a Pre-Action Protocol letter, otherwise known as a PAP letter. The following are the reasons why parent would begin these proceedings against a local authority.
- Failure to Comply with Timeframes
Local authorities are bound by strict timelines when dealing with EHC needs assessments and EHCPs. These timeframes are crucial to ensuring that your child receives timely support. You may consider legal action if you encounter any of the following delays:
a. Failure to respond to your EHC needs assessment request.
b. Failure to issue a decision on whether an EHCP should be issued or not.
c. Failure to provide a draft EHCP within the specified timescale.
d. Failure to issue a final EHCP in accordance with the given timeline.
e. Failure to carry out the annual review as required.
f. Failure to comply with reassessment requests.
2. Section 42 – Failure to Implement Provision
Local authorities are legally obligated to provide the support specified and quantified in your child’s EHCP. If they fail to do so, you can consider legal action. It’s essential to have someone review the EHCP to confirm the provision’s accuracy and sufficiency.
3. Section 19 – Child Out of School
If your child is out of school for various reasons, you should investigate the situation. Local authorities have a legal duty to ensure that all children receive an education, even if they are not attending a mainstream school. This duty includes situations like exclusion, and the rules vary slightly, but the obligation remains.
4. Fixed-Term Exclusions
The law stipulates how many days in an academic year a child can be on fixed-term exclusion before it becomes a breach of statute. If your child faces frequent fixed-term exclusions, it’s crucial to examine whether the school is following these rules.
5. Part-Time Timetable
If your child is placed on a part-time timetable, this falls under the Section 19 issue. However, it’s essential to assess whether an emergency annual review might be a more effective solution. Each case is unique and requires careful consideration.
Issues related to transport may arise when all appeal processes have been exhausted, and there is still evidence of an error on the part of the local authority. This option should be pursued cautiously and only if there is a clear case of wrongdoing.
7. Isolation Booths
Isolation booths, which are used as a form of informal exclusion, should be addressed similarly to formal exclusions. If your child is frequently placed in isolation booths, it’s essential to review the situation to ensure it complies with the law.
Taking Legal Action
If you believe the local authority has acted unlawfully and failed to rectify the situation, you can initiate legal proceedings through a judicial review process. This process begins with a Pre-Action Protocol letter (PAP letter), which outlines your concerns and intentions to seek legal recourse.
At Sunshine Support, we have a proven track record of helping parents draft effective PAP letters, which have a high success rate in ensuring that the local authority adheres to the law.
If the local authority continues to act unlawfully, you have the option to bring a legal aid claim under your child’s name or hire a solicitor to undertake this work. We have strong connections with excellent solicitors who can provide this service should you need it.
Your child’s education is of paramount importance, and you have the legal right to ensure that they receive the support and services they require. If you find yourself in a situation where the local authority is failing to meet their obligations, don’t hesitate to take action. Contact our team at Sunshine Support to discuss how we can help you navigate this challenging process and ensure that your child’s educational needs are met.
CLICK HERE to book a call with our team to discuss how we can assist you in advocating for your child’s education or hire our legal adviser to undertake the Pre-Action Protocol letter for you. We are here to support you every step of the way in securing your child’s most suitable educational provision.