The parents of an adopted child with additional needs awaiting appropriate education say he is “being failed” by the process.

Felicity and Alex Neaves, who live in Ipswich, say they have still been waiting for their five-year-old son’s education, health and care plan (EHCP) since September.

The five-year-old struggles with sensory PTSD due to his past, prior to being adopted, and displays aggressive behaviour.

He is currently only able to stay in school for half of the day due to lack of provision, as the EHCP has not been completed.

The plans are set up to describe a child's needs and the health and social care provision that is needed to meet them.

Local authorities must finalise an EHCP within 20 weeks of the initial request for assessment and should send out the draft plan within 14 weeks.

While the school made the request in September, Suffolk’s children’s services have not provided the care plan, and the parents say the emails they have sent have rarely been met with replies.

But Suffolk County Council has said there is a shortage of educational psychologists, both locally and nationally, which impacts how they can meet these deadlines.

This is while the number of children needing EHCPs has increased in the county by 24% since December 2020.

Ipswich Star: Felicity Neaves' adopted son is still awaiting appropriate education.Felicity Neaves' adopted son is still awaiting appropriate education. (Image: Felicity Neaves)

Mrs Neaves said: “He should be prioritised in the process as a previously looked after child. He needs a trusted person with him that he can create a bond with.

“Unfortunately, the school does not have the funding for permanent one-to-one care for him until the EHCP comes through. They can only provide this during the mornings, so he is unable to go to school full-time.

“He is five. He has a legal right to be in full-time education, but he can’t be because he has not been provided with what he needs.

“My son has already experienced horrific circumstances in his short life and now he is being failed again.”

Mrs Neaves added that the school has been “amazing”, and said: “They have worked so hard to help him, but most schools do not have the budget to provide one-to-ones, and more children are coming into school with additional needs after the lockdowns.”

This comes following the damaging Ofsted report that criticised "widespread and/or systemic failings" in the Suffolk local partnership in January.

Suffolk County Council has said it has a permanent advert out to recruit more educational psychologists, and seven new recruits started in September 2023. 

The council also uses the private market and locum educational psychologists and works with universities to explore training opportunities for new positions.

Cllr Andrew Reid, cabinet member for Education and SEND at the council, said: “We recognise that the timeliness of EHCPs has not been good enough.

"Improving how we manage assessments, plans and reviews is an absolute focus for the Council and Local Area Partnership.

“As a result of this, we have agreed £4.4million to recruit an additional 60 staff to drive forward this priority. This is an increase of permanent SEND staff of nearly 15%.

“We have also invested more than £55million to create more than 1,250 additional places in specialist and mainstream schools and this work continues at pace.”