A mother is worried that her daughter may not get into college due to extensive waiting times for a special need’s report from Hertfordshire County Council.

Maria Williams, from South Oxhey, is still waiting for her 19-year-old daughter’s special educational needs and disability (SEND) review, which is required for her to enter a new school, after requesting one in November 2019.

The mother requested the review which identifies any additional support someone under 25 years who requires special education may need.

The review process normally takes one to two days to complete, including time to prepare for the review and give feedback on the outcomes.

Ms Williams fears that her child, who already did not attend school last year due to similar issues, may not be able to apply in time for school due to the long waiting period.

She said: “I’m dyslexic myself, so I know how important it is to have that report.

“When you have the report, you can then choose where you want to go to school.

“Right now, my daughter is learning Japanese to go to this college, but she won’t be able to without this report.

“Why does the law say it has to be implemented in that time, and sometimes when it passes that time there’s no one to hold accountable?”

Ms Williams has been contacting the council urging for them to push the review forward but has yet to resolve the issue.

Children with any special needs or disabilities require an education, health and care (EHC) plan to identify specific support a child may need in a school environment.

As it stands, the statutory waiting limit for a draft EHC plan to be returned from a local council as a final plan is up to 20 weeks.

A review of these plans can then be requested whenever it is felt the needs of a child is not being met, or if they are moving to a new education setting.

In a recent parliamentary debate, St Albans MP Daisy Cooper called the statutory waiting limit for an assessment draft plan too long and unacceptable.

She cited how one in seven pupils in Hertfordshire County Council schools are being kept waiting longer than the statutory limit for an assessment.

Watford Observer:

Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, called out the SEND scheme in Parliament.

After the debate she said: “Special educational needs and disability assessments are the number one issue raised in my constituency surgeries.

“I can see the enormous strain that families face when a school is unable to cater for their child’s needs or when they have to wait weeks for an assessment.

“Around the country, 1.3 million children have special educational needs and under Herts County Council, that number has reached an all-time high.

“It is a disgrace that one in seven of those families in Hertfordshire with fail to get an assessment even within the statutory 20 weeks.

“The high-needs spending deficit in local authorities is forecast to reach between £1.2 and £1.6billion nationally by 2021, with many councils relying on reserves to make up the shortfall.

“The Government’s announcement that it will fund less than half the SEND deficit doesn’t begin to scratch the surface – it is a single-year payment and not targeted where it’s needed most.

“If all our children are to receive the life chances they deserve, we need the Government to invest properly to ensure they get adequate support and intervention at the right time.”

Teresa Heritage, executive member for Children, Young People and Families in Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we remain committed to undertaking annual reviews in a timely and responsive way.

“We follow the statutory process and seek to be equitable in our response, this means sometimes we cannot agree to a parents wishes, we take this very seriously and will always seek to work in partnership with families to find a mutually agreed way forward.

“Our last published performance (2018) for new Education Health and Care Plans issued within timescale (including exceptions) is 94.3 per cent, which compares to 55 per cent for our statistical neighbours and 58 per cent nationally, putting us ahead of both national and statistical comparators.”