Bristol City Council EHCP Saga Unfolds:
The Headteacher Update of 22 November 2019, informed Bristol education staff that the SEN team were going to close up over Christmas. According to the email sent out, there was not enough weeks to turn Education Health Care Needs Assessments around within the 6 week legal time frame due to the holidays.
But, the context behind this was not noble, it was reflective of a SEN team in crisis. Figures from the People Directorate submitted to People Scrutiny Commission last month, found that during the whole of 2019, just one EHCP had been completed within the statutory 20 week time frame. Some education staff receiving the email believed the SEN team’s closure was about controlling the appalling statistics after a year which lacked strategic direction to deal with the Bristol crisis.
Despite the widely shared leaked email, parents and staff continued to send in requests for needs assessment simply because it is completely unlawful to refuse to accept them and process them. Their children and young people in the city were desperately in need of Send support in school.
It was not long until parents were reporting the Bristol SEN team were sticking to their word and not only refusing to accept them, but warning that any received would be deleted. A carer wishing to remain anonymous received the following email on 05 December:
As good as their word, Bristol City Council’s Local Offer website was updated accordingly:
But of course, Bristol parents, carers and education staff certainly weren’t going to stand for this sort of thing, with pressure immediately applied to the council.
By lunchtime on Friday 06 December, they had caved into pressure and agreed to accept applications, not delete them but still not process them until after 06 January 2020:
Which still wasn’t legally acceptable. Pressure continued to be applied until eventually, Bristol City Council removed the notice from their Local Offer website and sent out sorry emails.
Anyone wishing to send in a request for a needs assessment should continue to do so.
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