Today in a speech at the Association of Directors of Children's Services conference Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson, announced that the Government will extend the maximum timescale for transferring individual statements from 16 to 20 weeks, matching the timescale for new assessments.
The change will take effect from 1 September 2015. The Minister will be writing to Directors of Children's Services next week with further information about how this change will take effect.
At CDC we have been concerned for some time that the tight timescales were compromising quality in the transfer process and we welcome the extended timescales for EHC needs assessments. Feedback from our members and personal accounts shared through our networks have highlighted how important it is to get the EHC assessment right and to set out clear and effective outcomes.
However, we also aware that timing is not the only consideration for ensuring quality EHC plans and better outcomes for children and young people. Effective workforce development and targeted training for local authorities will help ensure the new reforms lead to better, more person-centred assessments that meet the requirements and are more clearly focused on aspirations and outcomes for children and young people. We would anticipate that the support the Minister refers to will provide the additional expertise that local authority’s need.
We also hope that the Minister will consider extending the overall timescales for the completion of transfer reviews, currently set for April 2018. We believe that extending this timescale as well as the individual transfer timescale would lead to further improvements in engagement with parents and young people and better EHC plans.