Moving to a new phase of education with an EHCP - transfer deadline day

Why is 31 March an important date if a young person has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and is transitioning from secondary school to a post 16 institution or apprenticeship?

Local Authorities (LA) have a legal duty to review and amend EHCPs when a young person transfers from their secondary school to a post 16 institution or apprenticeship. This duty is set out in Regulation 18 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.

What is Regulation 18 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.

Regulation 18 explains that as well as reviewing the EHCP and making amendments, the LA must specify the institution that the young person will be attending.

The regulation explicitly states that the deadline for this to be completed is 31 March.

For young people moving between post-16 institutions instead of going from secondary to post-16, the review process should normally be completed by 31 March where a young person is expected to transfer to a new institution in the new academic year. 

However, transfers between post-16 institutions may take place at different times of the year and the review process should take account of this. In all cases where it is proposed that a young person is to transfer between one post-16 institution and another within the following 12 months, the local authority must review and amend, where necessary, the young person’s EHCP at least five months before the transfer takes place.

In some cases, young people may not meet the entry requirements for their chosen course or change their minds about what they want to do after the 31 March or five-month deadline. Where this is the case, local authorities should review the EHCP with the young person as soon as possible, to ensure that alternative options are agreed, and new arrangements are in place as far in advance of the start date as practicable.

What is the impact of failing to keep to the transfer deadline

EHCPs must be reviewed and amended in sufficient time to allow for the new setting to become familiar with the young person and understand their needs and the provision required for those needs. It is also important for young people and their families to have the certainty of knowing which placement the LA is proposing for the young person to attend as transitions can be difficult emotionally, and this can reduce one of the unknown entities of change. The deadline of 31 March allows for any disagreements about the contents of the EHCP to be looked at by the SEND Tribunal, if necessary, before the move in September.

Recent Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman case highlighting the issues and difficulties that can arise where transfer arrangements are not met

On 3 March 2022, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (Ombudsman) released its decision on an investigation they carried out into a complaint involving a teenager (Ms M) who has an EHCP for her special educational needs. The complaint centred on failures of the LA relating to her transfer arrangements to post-16 education.

The Ombudsman found the LA had failed to identify a placement by the end of March 2019 and failed to plan and take responsibility for ensuring a placement was sourced that met Ms B’s needs.

The LA had failed to produce a final EHCP meaning that Ms M lost the opportunity to challenge its contents at the SEND Tribunal. The Ombudsman’s investigation found fault with the way the LA had failed to arrange provision for Ms B in the Autumn term of 2019. It was decided that Ms M had missed out on education and specialist support of which she was entitled. There was also a subsidiary impact of her mother losing her tax credits as Ms M was not in school.

In this case the LA agreed to apologise and pay the mother and daughter £4,000 to acknowledge the impact of having no education and the avoidable distress and lost opportunities during this period. In addition, it will also pay the mother the equivalent tax credits she lost.

The full report can be found here: Devon teen missed out on education because of council delays - Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

If you would like advice or assistance with anything related to the above, please contact Kimberley Hircock on 01245 453803 or at


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.