Education, Health and Care Plans FAQs
Our Frances Kyle answers some of the more common questions we encounter in relation to setting up Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans:
My child has a Statement; do they need an Education, Health and Care Plan as well?Under the Children and Families Act 2014, all new cases will get an EHC Plan instead of a Statement.
From 1 April 2018, all existing Statements are to be transferred to an EHC Plan. Usually this will happen at the time of the annual review.
Who can get an EHC Plan?
Any young person under the age of 25 who has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made.
An EHC needs assessment is undertaken to start the process of preparing an EHC Plan.
Who can ask for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment?
- Parents of the young person
- The young person themselves, if they are over the age of 16, but under the age of 25
- The young person’s early years setting or school (but only after talking to the parents).
Other professionals, such as your doctor or health visitor, can inform the local authority that they think the young person needs an assessment, but cannot formally request one.
What happens when a request for an EHC needs assessment is received by the local authority?
The local authority generally has up to six weeks to decide whether or not to undertake a needs assessment. They are required to take into account the views, wishes and feelings of the young person and their parents. The local authority may ask for information from the school or early years setting, as well as from other professionals, such as doctors or specialists. The outcome will be notified to you and will either be:
- They will start the EHC needs assessment immediately; or
- An EHC needs assessment is not necessary.
If an EHC Needs Assessment is not necessary, you will be notified of your right to appeal, details of independent disagreement resolution and mediation, and how to get further information, advice or support. It may be that there are accessible services which are already in place which can provide the support that the young person needs under what is known as the Local Offer.
What is the Local Offer?
The Local Offer is a local authority’s publication of all the provision they offer generally for those who have special educational needs or are disabled, including those who do not have an EHC Plan. As each Local Offer is specific to the local authority publishing it, there is a range of services and opportunities which will vary from area to area. The local authority’s website should have details of the specific provisions in your area.
What happens in an EHC needs assessment and how long will it take?
The young person and their parents must be consulted throughout the process of the assessment. The local authority will consult with professionals as well as anyone the parents or young person require to be contacted. You will receive a copy of all the reports when the needs assessment is completed.
The local authority generally has up to 16 weeks from the date of the initial request for assessment to decide:
- An EHC Plan needs to be put in place; or
- There is no need for an EHC Plan (usually accompanied by directing to specific parts of the Local Offer).
There are exceptions to the timescales set out in the legislation, particularly if the input of a school is needed and the time period includes a school holiday.
How is an EHC Plan put in place if the assessment says one should be?
The EHC Plan sets out the needs which are identified and the help that will be given to meet those needs. It also includes any health and care provision that is needed.
The draft plan will be prepared and sent to you (along with copies of all the reports). You only have 15 days to make any comments, or ask for a meeting to discuss the draft plan. Otherwise, the local authority is entitled to assume you agree with the draft plan.
It is important to ensure that everything is included and that you agree with the proposed provision and outcomes. If it is not included within the draft plan, it will not be provided for in the final plan, and so the local authority will not be making that provision (unless it is already covered by the Local Offer). The plan will usually name the school the young person will attend.
The final stage is for the local authority to send you the final EHC Plan. The target timescale for this is within 20 weeks of the initial request for an assessment. If you are still unhappy with the plan, you have the right to go to mediation and/or appeal.
How can I get more help and support?
The legislation is comprehensive on this area, and details of the EHC needs assessments can be found in the SEND Code of Practice, Chapter 9, a copy of which can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Each local authority publishes details of their Local Offer on their websites.
Herrington Carmichael can assist with:
- Information about EHC needs assessments
- Advice and support during the needs assessment process
- Advice and support in relation to making a complaint, seeking independent disagreement resolution or mediation, or formally appealing through the Courts.
For further information, advice or support, please contact our Dispute Resolution Team on email@example.com or call us on 0118 977 4045.