09 November 2016
A recent report flagged up by the e-newsletter Special Needs Jungle suggested that Hampshire Children’s Services is outsourcing the drafting of our young people’s EHCPs. HPCN was concerned that this practice was being implemented without any explanation or consultation, and asked County Services Manager, Liz Flaherty,to comment. Ms Flaherty told us that Hampshire is under pressure to complete EHCPs by the statutory deadlines and that, ‘In common with other local authorities we are over-whelmed with the increasing number of new requests for EHC assessments and the requirement to complete all the transfers by April 2018. Our schedule to meet this deadline means that 2200 statements need to be transferred to EHCPs this academic year 2016/17. Those that are in year 2 or year 6 need to be finalised by February 15th 2017.’ She confirmed that EHCPs are being outsourced and explained, ‘The decision to outsource some of the writing of these transfer plans was taken to enable us to maintain our focus on quality. The external plan writers are only involved in pulling together the information available from the transfer planning meeting, the ‘our story’ and ‘my views and any assessments to produce an initial draft. This enables the skilled SEN staff to use their stretched time to focus on quality assuring and amending the draft before they are sent to parents as a formal draft for any further amendments to be considered. In effect there is no difference to an external person drafting the transfer plans from the temporary staff working as part of our transfer team here writing them.’ She said that whilst Hampshire is striving to meet the statutory deadline of 31 March 2018, this is dependent on the continued temporary use of the external EHC plan writing company and the continuation of the Department for Education (DfE) SEND Implementation Grant for a further year to support the in-house SEN transfer team. Ms Flaherty continued, ‘The DfE are aware of the growing concern that local authorities will not have completed all the transfers by the 2018 deadline, and at a recent event I attended in London, [it was] estimated that it was unlikely all the transfers would be completed before 2020.’ To read the full text of HPCN concerns to Liz Flaherty, and her full response and statement, please click here .
In the HPCN office we regularly hear about delays in completing the EHCP process from our members. Although we are disappointed our members were not pre-informed about outsourcing, we are now asking ourselves if it is reasonable that Hampshire take this approach in order to meet their EHCP deadlines. We are considering a social media survey to find out more about what you think. To get involved in HPCN social media news and surveys ‘like’ the HPCN group page at facebook.com/HampshireParentCarerNetwork.