Frequently Asked Questions
To help make things a little clearer.
What is an EHC plan?
An EHC plan (Education Health and Care Plan) is a legal document that describes a child or young person’s special educational, health and social care needs.
A plan is intended for children and young people whose special educational needs require more support than would normally be provided in a mainstream school.
An EHCP can be written for a child/young person at any age from birth up to the age of 25 years. It contains the details of the support that will be given to meet the child or young person’s special educational needs. EHCPs replaced the old-style Statements of Special Educational Needs. It is a legal document that records what support the child will get, so when the child moves through the school years or their teaching assistant/class teacher leaves, or the head teacher changes, the EHC plan ensures the child’s provision continues.
It is vital that the plan is specific and accurate to guarantee the support is delivered.
Where a plan is not in place or if it has been drafted vaguely, parents are reliant on the school and have limited recourse to challenge.
The EHC Plan is written by the local authority in which the child/young person lives. Before the plan is drafted the authority must conduct an Education Health and Care Assessment (previously known as Statutory Assessment). The child or young person may be assessed as having social and health needs but must have educational needs for a plan to be considered.
How can I get an Education Health Care Assessment or Plan?
The first step to obtaining an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is to get an Education Health and Care Assessment. This can be requested by the school, parents or the young person (if over 16 years old).
The request must be made in writing to the local authority and should refer to the need for the EHC Assessment. If the EHC Assessment is declined there is a right of appeal which we can help with. If the assessment is agreed, once it is completed the authority must decide whether it will issue an EHC Plan. If this is declined there is again, a right of appeal which we can help with. The time frame for this process is set out in the SEN Code of Practice and must be met.
What should I expect in an EHC Plan?
The Education Health and Care Plan is written very differently from the old style Statement of Special Educational Needs. All children with old style statements will have their statements transferred to EHC Plans over time.
The EHC plan has 11 sections labelled A – K. The Code of Practice sets out the nature of the information which should be contained in each section:
A: The views, interests and aspirations of your child.
B: Special educational needs (SEN).
C: Health needs related to SEN.
D: Social care needs related to SEN.
E: Outcomes – how the extra help will benefit your child
F: Special educational provision (support).
G: Health provision.
H: Social care provision.
I: Placement – type and name of school or other institution.
J: Personal budget arrangements.
K: Advice and information – a list of the information gathered during the EHC needs assessment.
Common Problems with EHC Plans
The most common complaint with an EHC Plan is the child/ young person’s educational difficulties are not sufficiently included in Section B, that refer to Special Educational Needs.
The support to meet their needs in section F, SEN provision (support), is often not specific enough. Parent’s common complaint is that the first draft of the EHC Plan does not tell them very much.
The Code of Practice and established Case Law requires section F to be specific and to detail the support so that it is clear for the ready to understand what should be delivered to support the child/young person.
EHC Plans which are vague and lack detail are often unlawful. A common problem is that teaching assistant 1:1 support is not clearly specified. This extra help needs to be include, together with the number of hours; Speech and Language Therapy Provision and Occupational Therapy is often excluded and again needs to state who should conduct the therapy, how often and for how long.
Turners Solicitors provide legal advice and support to respond to the local authority and to help parents obtain an EHC Assessment and EHC Plan which is effective and appropriate for their child/young person.
What is a personal budget or direct payment and how do I get this?
A personal budget is the notional amount of money that would be needed to fund the special educational provision which is included in the Educational Health and Care Plan, (EHCP).
You can ask the local authority for a personal budget for educational provision for your child or young person when they are carrying out an EHC needs assessment or reviewing an EHC plan.
Parts of a personal budget can be direct payments to parents to commission the provision in the EHC plan directly.
Who has the responsibility to deliver the provision in an EHC Plan?
When a local authority has issued an EHCP it is the legal duty of the authority to deliver the provision which is specified in part F, (Special Educational Provision) of the plan.
The ultimate responsibility lies with the local authority. This is a requirement of the Children and Families Act 2014.
The authority may be in breach of its statutory duty if it fails to deliver support which it has identified as necessary and included in part F of a plan. If there is health provision in an EHC plan, the responsibility for this lies with the local health commissioning body.
Social Care provision is also the responsibility of the local authority, if it is as a result of an assessment under social care legislation.
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Not sure if it all applies you?
Call 01656 768 500 today.
We can cast some light on some of the confusing procedures and terminology so you get a clearer picture.
Turner’s Solicitors specialise in helping parents and students gain the most from their school, college or University experience. We handle all matters relating to education including Special Educational Needs, Admission Appeals, Exclusion Appeals, University Complaints and Disability Discrimination cases.