Exception Rules to EHC plans in South Gloucestershire

SGPC meet with the LA re Exceptions Rules 

You may or may not have noticed that in July an article was produced by a well-known organisation called Special Needs Jungle (SNJ).

The article was referring to the  “ehcp-assessment-exception-loophole”. You can read the article on the below link


As we know the EHC needs assessment and plan process should be completed in 20 weeks

SNJ explained that

The SEND Regulations list several situations where LAs “need not apply” the 20-week deadline to get an EHCP finalised if it is “impractical” to do so. These situations - broadly known as “exception cases” - are as follows:

1.    the authority has requested advice from the head teacher or principal of a school or post-16 institution during a period beginning one week before any date on which that school or institution was closed for a continuous period of not less than 4 weeks from that date and ending one week before the date on which it re-opens;

2.    the authority has requested advice from the person identified as having responsibility for special educational needs (if any) in relation to, or other person responsible for, a child's education at a provider of relevant early years education during a period beginning one week before any date on which that provider was closed for a continuous period of not less than 4 weeks from that date and ending one week before the date on which it re-opens;

3.    exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or the child's parent, or the young person during that time period ; or

4.    the child or the child's parent, or the young person, are absent from the area of the authority for a continuous period of not less than 4 weeks during that time period

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th  exception cases could happen at any time. The 1st one kicked in at the start of the school summer holidays.

This article was written using data that the DfE produced which was based on data returned from all LA’s. This is referred to as SEN2 data.  

It was very disappointing to read that South Gloucestershire Council was showing the highest percentage of 92% of ECHP being given exception codes that didn’t meet the criteria above.  

South Glos Parents and Carers immediately made contact with the LA to express our concern but also to find out why this was the case.

We have met with the council and they have explained that they also were not happy with this data and that they have taken immediate effect to address this situation

“We discovered that the exceptions rules were being applied incorrectly onto our IT system and so have worked hard to ensure this is no longer happening”

— LA

 The very recent data is now showing since January 2017 to August the exceptions cases are now running at 26.4% where new EHC plans are completed with exceptions applied – their target is to reduce this to below 20%. 

During our meeting, the Council also shared some other data with us so we thought it would be good to share with you in case you are interested or have any questions you wish us to address at future meetings.  

Having completed an extensive data cleansing exercise, they now have a more robust data collection system that they shared with us so we could see the data ourselves which enables them to monitor such information on a monthly basis.

As of August 2017:

-          There are 1707 EHC plans or statements in place.

o   394 of these are statements and will be converted to EHC plans. They are confident these will be completed by the March 2018 deadline set by the DfE;

-          66.7% of EHC needs assessments result in an EHC Plan being issued within the 20 weeks’ timescale – this has increased as in Jan 2017 thier data was showing only 25% were issued in 20 weeks;

-          42.4% of requests for an EHC needs assessment are turned down by the LA.  This is moving in the right direction as in Jan 17 it was 52.3%.  The LA are working with schools through their new SENCO surgeries to help them provide the right information for requesting an assessment and are looking to reduce this level;

-          They are looking at new approaches to reduce the number of tribunals which remains too high and currently stands as seven tribunals.

The data is beginning to show a more positive trend but the Council are very much aware from the feedback that we provide and from the responses they receive from individual parents that we are not seeing the benefits of this and they know it will take time for parents and carers to feel the SEND system is working better in South Gloucestershire. This is work in progress but the Council are fully committed to improving this.

South Glos Parents and Carers will see this data on a more regular basis preferably monthly so that we can monitor and review this.

The LA wrote a summary of our meeting so we can share we with you . 

you can read the letter here

More news re SEND 

There are going to be a number of SEND events running in Sept and Oct where we will be working with the LA to look at the SEND strategy in South Glos and what this should like.  We hope as many parents as possible can join us! More information to follow on this.

Meanwhile if anyone has anything they wish to add you can contact us by email Team@sglospc.org.uk or you can complete our Tell Us form about any service or issue which helps us to collate the views of our families which can be found on the top of the home page on our website www.sglospc.org.uk .