COUNTY Hall bosses have been accused of "failing children’s physical and mental wellbeing" after it was revealed Essex is the worst in the country for completing special educational needs and disabilities assessments.

In Essex just one per cent of children receive an assessment for an educational health care plan (EHCP) within the legal time limit of 20 weeks.

Requests for assessments, meanwhile, have increased by 143 per cent between 2015-16 and 2022-23, with almost 4,000 requests made between 2022 and 2023.

The shocking figures have not gone down well with parents in the county, while some have shared their own experiences with waiting for months on end for an appointment.

Gazette: Overselling - Laura Wingar previously told the Gazette the secondary school she chose for her son had 'oversold' its SEN provisionOverselling - Laura Wingar previously told the Gazette the secondary school she chose for her son had 'oversold' its SEN provision (Image: Submitted)

Laura Wingar, a Colchester mum who sent her son Freddie to East Bergholt High School in the hopes of him receiving more support, said she had been waiting since August 1, 2023 for an assessment.

She said: “I’m utterly disgusted with our local authority - they are failing our children’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“The toll this is taking on me as parent is unbelievable never mind the children. The lack of care and compassion is appalling."

Ms Wingar said she was already in pursuit of legal action with the council “for breaking the law” and is now advising “every family in the same situation" to do the same.

Jo Owens, meanwhile, says she is currently on week 28 of waiting and has still not received a date for the “education psychologist to complete their assessment”, with her daughter missing mainstream education since December as a result.

And Gemma Kirkpatrick revealed, although in 2018 her daughter received her ECHP in the expected time-frame thanks to “better communication”, her son has been waiting seven months.

Tony Ball, councillor and education boss at Essex County Council, has now moved to reassure parents. 

He said, "like many areas in the country", Essex faces a problem with the recruitment and retention of educational psychologists as well as an increase in requests since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

But he said he recognised the impact this had on parents and families.

“Families can be confident that we are taking this matter extremely seriously and already have plans in place to address the issue," he added.

"We will leave no stone unturned as this work continues.”