HPCI Member update 11 March 2022

While our updates usually focus on developments in Hertfordshire, this week’s newsletter also covers a number of national updates, as parents/carers may want to know about these.  As ever, any feedback on the content of these newsletters is always welcome.

Read on to find out more about:

  • Judicial Review ruling that an EHCP which is amended following annual review should be finalised within 12 weeks of the meeting.
  • Webinar with the Minister Will Quince MP, ahead of the publication of the SEND Review.
  • New film explains video hearings at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
  • SEND in Hertfordshire – a call for action

Judicial Review ruling on EHCP annual reviews that lead to an amended plan.

The High Court has ruled that, following an annual review, there should be “… a finalised plan in place 12 weeks from the review meeting.”  Having this ruling gives families and the local authority long missing clarity on what is expected in law, where EHCPs need amendment following an annual review.  Here’s a link to the full judgement for those of you who like to see the detail.  The Judge was clear that the annual review process starts with information gathering before the meeting, so that at the meeting attendees can be clear what changes may be required and local authorities then have ample time within the 12-week window to make the changes. Any decision not to amend after annual review must be made within 4 weeks of the meeting and such a decision by a local authority gives rise to a right of appeal. We know that the local authority is already struggling to meet deadlines so breaches of the timescales will no doubt happen, but having this clarity on what the law requires is positive for families.

SEND Review webinar with Minister Will Quince MP.

Earlier this week Special Needs Jungle (SNJ) hosted a webinar with the SEND Minister, Will Quince MP, ahead of the publication of the SEND Review.  In the webinar the Minster said that he was committed to working in partnership to make changes, and that this partnership approach must include families.  He also highlighted his view that the current system needs increased accountability, and should be less confrontational with a focus instead on providing early help, so the right support is put in place at the right time.  You can watch a recording of the webinar here and you can add your comments for the SEND Review team here.

New film explains video hearings at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal

Parents and carers have been part of the work undertaken to produce an easily understood video which explains what happens at video hearings at the SEND Tribunal.  If you want to watch the fifteen-minute video, you can find it on the HM Courts and Tribunals Service YouTube channel here. (A BSL signed version is also available here.)

SEND in Hertfordshire – a call for action

More locally, the SEND National Crisis Hertfordshire group last week published a “Call for action”, full details of which can be found on their Facebook page.  They highlight concerns including SEN Officer caseloads, continuing difficulties contacting officers, the quality of EHCPs and suitability of placements.

The group were able to share their concerns with Jo Fisher, the HCC Director of Children’s Services, at the HPCI Involvement Partners meeting which took place in the same week.  At these meetings HPCI brings together voluntary and community organisations from across Hertfordshire and across a range of SEND needs, in order to share information about the issues that the families that they work with are facing.  It was really helpful to be able to hear directly from Jo Fisher about the local authority’s plans to address issues, and also to know that she recognises the frustration that families often feel about the current situation.