ALMOST nine out of ten transition plans for children with special needs in Rotherham are not being completed in time, according to shock new figures.
A total of 113 Year 11 students were assessed as needing a special Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan for their post-school placement or college studies - but just 14 were ready by the deadline at the end of March.
The figures were released under Freedom of Information laws by education specialists at Simpson Millar, who asked 114 councils for details of how they supported special needs students.
The firm found that out of the young people who were due a transition plan this spring, at least 10,189 received theirs after the legal deadline, while at least 6,579 teenagers were without a completed plan on last year’s deadline of the end of May.
The plans are meant to help children who are transferring from school, including sixth forms, to a post-16 institution or an apprenticeship in September.
Across Yorkshire, almost 800 plans were still not in place by the deadline this spring.
Imogen Jolley, head of Education at Simpson Millar, said: “The new deadline was intended to allow parents time to prepare their children for a transition which can otherwise cause a great degree of stress and anxiety.”
Rotherham Borough Council was far from the worst offender - in the Derbyshire County Council area, not a single child out of 528 got their plan in time.
“We have clearly uncovered a systemic problem which is affecting thousands of young people with special educational needs at a crucial time in their education,” said Ms Jolley.
“What’s the point in having a deadline if local authorities have scant regard for it, or are entirely unable to meet it?”
Rotherham Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Gordon Watson (pictured left), said: “I want to reassure parents this delay does not mean young people are not being assessed and getting the help they need.
“This is still happening and will continue to happen while we change over to the new plans.
“The new plans - which replace the Special Educational Need statements - involve parents and young people more in decision making, and this means it is not as simple as just shifting over the data we already have.
“They have also been widened to include young people aged 19 to 25, which is adding to the work to complete these plans.
“We will make sure we have all the plans in place as quickly as we can, but we need to be realistic about how long this will actually take.
“It is essential that we have the right plans in place and that this is not rushed for the sake of meeting what is quite clearly an unrealistic deadline.
“The fact that nationally most local authorities are in the same position makes it clear the Government is not in touch with what is actually needed here.”