Schoolchildren with special needs in Richmond suffered delays in receiving plans to help them transition from primary to secondary school.

It has been revealed the council did not meet the statutory deadline of February 15 for issuing final transition education, health and care plans for 11 SEN children.

The findings from a request under freedom of information laws submitted by specialist education lawyers Simpson Millar showed that there were 69 SEN children in the borough who required EHCP’s and only 58 received them by the deadline.

Samantha Hale, education solicitor at Simpson Millar, said: “Parents of children with special educational needs are understandably often anxious about school changes, and their opportunity to review and challenge the provision set out in these plans is severely hampered if they are not provided on time.

“This is a statutory deadline, put in place to ensure a sensible and managed transition for children who otherwise might find the whole thing very stressful.”

It is understood that the deadline is essential to give parents the time to help their children make the move, or appeal against the contents of it to a specialist Tribunal.

“Even though some parents might have been told verbally which secondary school their child will be given a place at before February 15, they have no right to appeal until they have the final plan - their hands are tied and all they can do is wait,” added the education solicitor.

“Hundreds of parents will have received their child’s final transition plan late this year – potentially near or after the end of term.

“There is then little they can do in terms of preparing their child for the new school, including meeting and talking to staff, since everywhere is closed during summer - practically and emotionally, this is a real worry.”

Richmond, which has 1,209 individuals between zero and 25 who have a statement of special needs or EHCPs, is one of 165 local councils across the nation which failed to deliver plans on time leaving 2,405 SEN children waiting for information about their final transition.

Ms Hale said: “These figures are hugely worrying. Clearly, some local authorities are managing to complete the transition plans for all the children need them, whereas others are failing on a large scale.

“These are symptomatic of poor planning and management, and a lack of resources to properly support children with Special Educational Needs.

“There are valid reasons why a small number of plans might be delayed but it cannot be a coincidence that several of the local authorities that failed to meet the deadline for a significant number of children last year, have failed to do so again this year.”

There are more than 260,000 children and young people registered as having special educational needs in the UK, according to Simpson Millar’s research.

“Parents of children with SEN who should have received a final EHCP by 15 February but did not, and who are unhappy with it, should seek legal advice for further advice on pursuing the matter within the High Court.”

A Richmond Council spokesperson said: ​“Richmond's SEN team has been working to prioritise the transfer of statements to education, health, care plans for children at key points of transition. This has included children transferring to secondary school in September.

"The large majority have been completed (only five outstanding) and the SEN team has worked closely with all primary, special and secondary schools to secure appropriate secondary school provision and carefully planned transition for all pupils with special educational needs. The outstanding transfers will be completed very shortly.

“To accelerate progress towards the March 2018 deadline AfC has appointed a dedicated transfer team to complete the process.”