This guide first appeared in Resnews 2015.2.
The EHC reforms discussed are the consequence of the Children and Families Act 2014.
A Guide to Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans
“The new Education, Health and Care plans (EHC plans) which replace the old system of statements of special educational needs have been in place since September and the following is intended as a guide to how the system should be working. The process is split into a series of eight steps.
Step 1: The process starts with a request to the Local Authority (LA) to carry out an EHC needs assessment. The request can be made by one of the following:
● A child’s/young persons parent;
● The child or young person themselves as long as they have mental capacity;
● A person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 establishment.
Step 2: The LA has to make a decision within 6 weeks of the initial request on whether to go ahead with an EHC assessment. The LA must consult the child/young person before making their decision to give them an opportunity to explain why they believe the child/young person has or may have special educational needs, and why special provision may be required in accordance with an EHC plan.
In making the decision the LA must take account of the following:
● evidence of the child/young persons academic attainment or developmental milestones and rate of progress;
● information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN;
● evidence of action already taken by the nursery/school/college to meet the child or young person’s SEN
● evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided,
● evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs,
● where a young person is aged over 18, the LA must consider whether the young person requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age to complete their education or training.
If the LA decides not to go ahead with a full assessment the child’s parents must be notified of their rights to appeal the decision.
Step 3: If the LA decides that it will go ahead with a full EHC assessment it must seek the following advice and information;
● about the needs of the child/young person;
● about what provision may be required to meet such needs;
● about the outcomes that are intended to be achieved by the child or young person receiving that provision,
Advice and information should be sought as follows:
● from the child’s parent or the young person;
● educational advice;
● medical advice and information from a health care professional;
● psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist;
● advice and information in relation to social care;
● from any other person the local authority thinks is appropriate;
● where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, to assist the young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living; and
● from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the LA seek advice from.
Step 4: The LA issues a draft EHC plan when an EHC assessment has shown that it is necessary for special educational provision to be made for a child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan –
● the LA must ensure that an EHC plan is prepared for the child or young person, and
● once an EHC plan has been prepared, it must maintain the plan.
The LA must send the draft EHC plan to the parent or young person, giving notice to the parent or young person of:
● their right to make representations about the EHC plan;
● their right to request that a particular school or other institution is named in the plan.
The name of a school/college/etc must be left blank in a draft EHC plan pending the choice of the parent or young person.
Step 5: Should the LA decide not to issue an EHC plan the LA has to give notification to the parent or young person as soon as is practicable and within sixteen weeks of the initial request, including details of how to appeal.
Step 6: Once the draft plan has been issued the parent or young person must be given 15 days in which to –
● make representations about the content of the draft plan, and to request that a particular school or other institution be named in the plan, and
● require the LA to arrange a meeting between them and an officer of the LA at which the draft EHC plan can be discussed.
The LA is required to tell parents/young people where they can obtain information about the schools and colleges that are available to them.
Step 7: When a particular school or college has been requested the LA must consult the governing body of the school or college requested and must consult the governing body of any other school or college which it may be considering for the child/young person. If the school or college is in another LA it must consult that LA.
Step 8: Following all consultations the LA must ensure that any necessary changes are made to the EHC plan and the plan is then sent to the parents or young person and to the governing body of the school or college. This must be completed within 20 weeks of step one.
The above is designed to show how the system should work. However we have already heard cases of timelines not being met and we would be very interested to hear from any of our readers who have been through the process, your feedback would be much appreciated.”