HAMPSHIRE County Council is among the authorities which have failed to deliver plans for thousands of children with special educational needs as they prepare to move into secondary school this September.

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information by specialist education lawyers Simpson Millar show how more than 100 councils failed to meet the statutory deadline of February 15 for issuing final transition educational health and care plans (EHCPs) to thousands of children with special educational needs.

Some 2,405 children were left waiting for their plans, despite the fact that local authorities have a legal duty to deliver it by February 15 – in time for parents to help their children make the move, or appeal against the contents of it to a specialist tribunal.

Nationally, 62 councils said they had failed to issue final transition EHCPs to 10 or more children, with 103 overall reporting that at least some plans had not been finalised by the deadline. By comparison, 47 councils were able to complete every single plan on time.

In the South East, there are currently over 50,000 children and young people between the ages of 0 and 25 years old with a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an EHCP 2714 of those are starting secondary school this September, and 2454 of those received their transition plan on time.

Samantha Hale from Simpson Millar said: “Parents of children with special educational needs are understandably often anxious about school changes, and their opportunity to review and challenge the provision set out in these plans is severely hampered if they are not provided on time.

“This is a statutory deadline, put in place to ensure a sensible and managed transition for children who otherwise might find the whole thing very stressful. If the plans are not issued on time, parents who wish to appeal the provision set out in it, might not be able to have it heard by the Tribunal.

“Even though some parents might have been told verbally which secondary school their child will be given a place at before 15 February, they have no right to appeal until they have the final plan. Their hands are tied and all they can do is wait.

“These figures are hugely worrying. Clearly, some local authorities are managing to complete the transition plans for all the children need them, whereas others are failing on a large scale. These are symptomatic of poor planning and management, and a lack of resources to properly support children with special educational needs.

“There are valid reasons why a small number of plans might be delayed. But it cannot be a coincidence that several of the local authorities that failed to meet the deadline for a significant number of children last year, have failed to do so again this year.”

Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education at Hampshire County Council, said: “Of the 353 year 6 pupils transferring to a new school in September, 349 now have a final plan. The remaining four pupils have their secondary school placement confirmed, and their plans are in the process of being finalised.

“We treat every child as an individual and undertake a thorough assessment of their needs - which can often be complex in nature. Obviously, we want every young person to have the right plan in place, but to do this properly, does take time. It was very important not to rush this process. We owed the young people a quality assessment.

“We acknowledge that we need to improve the speed of assessment.”

, and are putting steps in place to streamline the process through new technology.”