If you have a child or young person with SEN (they have a learning difficulty or disability) they may sometimes require a level of support that is more intensive than the resources usually available in their school. In such a case, you or your child's school could consider asking the Local Authority to undertake an Education, Health and Care needs assessment which could lead to your child receiving an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).
What is an Education, Health and Care Plan?
An EHCP brings together your child's education, health and social care needs into a single plan which is a legal document. Your child must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan.
An Education, Health and Care Plan will describe the needs of the child or young person, the services required to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement. It will be developed in partnership with you and your child or young person and will be carried out within 20 weeks of the needs assessment.
How do I apply for an EHC Plan?
A parent or young person would need submit a written request to the Local Authority asking for a formal assessment to be carried out. The written request will need to contain information about which agencies are currently involved in working with the child or young person.
Who decides whether a child needs an EHC Plan?
The Local Authority will make the decision as to whether a child or young person needs an ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’. The process leading to this decision will however be shorter (maximum 20 weeks) and more child/young person and family-focussed.
What will happen to children who do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan?
Under the old legislation, children and young people at school who did not have a Statement of SEN may have been supported under arrangements known as ‘School Action’ and ‘School Action Plus’. These terms reflect differing levels of need and support provided but they are not included in the new legislation
However, there is still provision for children without EHC plans. This will be set out in the Code of Practice which will support the new SEN arrangements. The Code of Practice, which was published in July 2014, calls this ‘SEN support’ and gives an idea about what this might look like. It indicates this should be a graduated approach which takes form of a four-part cycle – Assess, Plan, Do, Review.
What happens if the local authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary?
If, following assessment, the local authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary, it must inform the parents or young person, the early years provider, school or post 16 institution currently attended and the health service, and give the reasons for its decision. This must take place within 16 weeks of the initial request or of the child or young person having been brought to the authority's attention. The local authority must also tell the parents or young person that they have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the decision and set out the time limits for appeal, and the availability of parent partnership and disagreement resolution services.
If you would like to find out more information regarding the whole process you can find the Code of Practice at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25