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Phase transfers (moving between stages of education) – what you need to know

It is that time of year again, with the autumn term well underway and bringing with it annual review season. Specifically, many annual review meetings of Education Health and Care Plans (EHC Plans) are being scheduled ahead of children and young people preparing to transfer from one phase of education to another.

In light of this, we’ve set out below the key information you need be aware of if you or your child are about to undergo a phase transfer.


Before a child or young person moves between key phases of education, the local authority must review and issue a new EHC naming the placement that the child should attend in September . This process needs to take place in accordance with the following statutory deadlines:

  • By 15 February (in the child’s final year at the current placement) – for transfers from early years education to school, infants to juniors, primary to middle, primary to secondary and middle to secondary; or
  • By 31 March – for young people due to transfer from secondary school to college (or any other post-16 setting);
  • Or at least 5 months before the transfer will take place for a transfer from one post-16 setting to another.

Local authorities need to work with schools to schedule annual review meetings in a timely manner, to ensure the phase transfer processes can be completed ahead of the phase transfer deadlines. Those deadlines are set well ahead of the end of the academic year so as to allow sufficient time for transition planning and commissioning to take place. They also helpfully allow sufficient time for an appeal to be lodged to (and hopefully resolved by) the SEND Tribunal in the event of a dispute about which placement a child or young person should attend in the next academic year.

Once a phase transfer annual review meeting has taken place, the local authority needs to decide what amends it is going to make to the child or young person’s EHC Plan, including what setting it intends to name in Section I for the child or young person to attend in the next academic year.

  • Where an LA is amending an EHC plan, it must notify the young person or their parents of its decision within 4 weeks of the meeting. They must then be sent a draft of the proposed amendments to the Plan, together with the decision letter, so that they can provide comments, before the Plan is finalised.
  • Within 8 weeks of sending parents/the young person the proposed amendments to the Plan, the LA must finalise and issue the amended EHC Plan.

If you or your parents are unhappy with the contents of the EHC Plan issued, you have a right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

If the local authority has failed to abide by the statutory deadlines above, you may want to consider sending a letter before action under the pre action protocol for Judicial Review, challenging its unlawful actions.

If  you require assistance with a phase transfer or another education law issue do feel free to get in touch with the RIS education team –  Contact us | Rook Irwin Sweeney – Public Law. Human Rights.

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