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Education, Health and Care Assessment and Plans (EHC)

The Government is transforming the system for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN), including those who are disabled, so that services consistently support the best outcomes for them. The Children and Families Act (2014) extends the SEN system from birth to 25, giving children, young people and their parents greater control and choice in decisions and ensuring their needs are properly met. It takes forward the reform programme set out by the Department for Education in ‘Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability: Progress and next steps’ by:

  • Replacing statements and learning difficulty assessments with a new birth to 25 Education, Health and Care Plan, extending rights and protections to young people in further education and training and offering families Personal Budgets so that they have more control over the support they need.
  • Improving cooperation between all the services that support children and their families and particularly requiring local authorities and health authorities to work together.
  • Requiring local authorities to involve children, young people and parents in reviewing and developing provision for those with special educational needs and to publish a ‘local offer’ of support.

There will be a transitional period from the 1st September 2014 to April 2018 where the current statements of SEN will be converted into EHC Plans, where indicated. Changes to the statutory timelines mean a reduction from the previous 26 weeks for statutory assessment leading to a statement to a maximum of 20 weeks for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.

What are the underpinning principles of the reforms?

  • Children, and young people to be at the heart of the system.
  • Early identification of needs so that professionals can intervene early with the most appropriate support for a child and their family.
  • High expectations and aspirations for what children and young people with SEN and disabilities can achieve, including paid employment, living independently with choice and control over their lives / support and participating in society.
  • Focus on the outcomes that children and young people and their families want to achieve, so that all decisions are informed by these aspirations.
  • The views and participation of children, their parents/carers and young people are central to and are supported throughout, the system.
  • Person-centred planning (personalisation) is used to place children and young people at the heart of the system.
  • Choice and control for young people and parents over the support they/ their children receive, including greater choice of schools and colleges and personal budgets to tailor services.
  • Education, health and social care partners collaborate to provide coordinated and tailored support to children, young people and families.
  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities to ensure that collaboration goes hand in hand with accountability to fulfil duties.
  • High quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people, alongside rights for those with EHC plans to say where they wish to be educated.
  • A clear and easy to understand 'local offer' of education, health and social care services to support children and young people with SEN and their families.
  • The skills, knowledge and attitude of those working with children and young people are central to achieving excellent outcomes.

What is an EHC Plan?

An EHC Plan is the product of a co-ordinated assessment for children and young people with complex needs aged 0-25 (16-25 year olds in further education and training where the student concerned needs SEN provision that cannot reasonably be provided within the resources normally available to mainstream FE settings. The EHC Plan replaces a Statement of SEN. The education provision set out in both the EHC Plan and the Statement has to be provided. Parents and young people have the right of appeal to a tribunal if they are unable to reach agreement with the local authority over the need for an EHC assessment or the SEN elements of an EHC plan.

What are the differences between EHC Plans and Statements?

EHC Needs Assessments and Plans

Statutory Assessment and Statements

An EHC plan makes provision for a child’s or young person’s needs across education, health and care.

A Statement only makes provision for the child or young person’s special educational needs.

To support the referral, schools will collate assessment information that they already have, or know about, and submit it with evidence of support provided. This should be a fairly quick process.

In addition to making a referral with supporting evidence, schools were then required to complete an educational advice form. This was time-consuming and often duplicated the information already provided.

Parents / carers will have a named SEN casework assistant to support them through the process.

 Parents / carers have said that the statutory assessment process was very difficult for them and that they did not feel that they had very much support.

Young people and families views of the child or young person’s needs and their hopes for the future are key to the process.

 Parents / carers could give their views in writing and tended not to have opportunities for face to face meetings unless requested.

The planning meeting to draw up the EHC Plan involves parents, the young person, where appropriate, and professionals who have assessed the child or young person. School is involved in shaping and developing the provision in the plan.  

The Statement was written by a council officer, schools implemented the plan and parents had the right to object.

EHC Plans will be personalised. That means that all the child’s or young person’s individual needs in education, health and care will be considered and the plan will then be shaped to meet their personal circumstances.

The statement lists special educational needs and describes the provision required.

The resources that are available will be used flexibly to allow families to make some choices about the provision their child/young person receives. Schools will be consulted about provision affecting work in school.

Resources are provided to school to make the prescribed provision.

A Personal Budget may be available to families to choose how to support the child or young person.

There are no personal budgets attached to statements.  

The time taken to produce an EHC Plan is 20 weeks.

The time taken to produce a Statement is 26 weeks.

When does a child or young person require an EHC needs assessment and how is it requested?

The majority of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) will have their needs met by mainstream education providers using the resources available within the school or by the school accessing additional funding from the local authority (high needs top up funding).  

Some children and young people with the most severe and complex special educational needs may require an EHC needs assessment in order for the local authority to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an EHC plan.  However, a request for an EHC needs assessment should not usually be the first step in the process for helping to meet the needs of a child or young person.  It should build on the co-ordinated work that is already happening between families, educational settings and support services, including health and social care professionals.

 Since 1st April 2013, schools have been expected to provide additional support for pupils who have additional support needs up to the nationally prescribed threshold, currently £6,000. Many children have support needs of less than £6000.  Schools are not expected to provide £6000 for every child with special educational needs but to make appropriate provision in order that all children can make expected progress.  If the child or young person’s additional needs have a cost greater than £6000 the educational settings can then apply to the local authority for high needs top-up funding.  This applies to children and young people who live in Sefton (or are “looked after” by Sefton). The authority provides high needs top-up funding to the school/college or early years setting without the need for an EHC plan. The Sefton local authority’s objective is to get additional resources to children or young people as swiftly as possible and without the need for a statutory process. 

Schools apply for high needs top up funding to the SEN and Inclusion Panel by submitting a high needs action plan as part of their application. Parents or carers can expect to contribute to this process and expect the school or educational setting to share their high needs action plan and application with them.  There is a necessity for them to approve the plan before it is submitted to the local authority.  This plan details the needs of the child or young person, quantifies and specifies the additional provision that the school and the local authority will provide.  This plan should be reviewed regularly with the parents or carer and at least annually.

Parents or carers who continue to be concerned about the progress and/or the SEN provision being made for their child should meet with school and share their concerns.  It is expected that parents and the school or other education provider will meet regularly to discuss concerns about progress and/or provision.  Schools and other providers can use these meetings to collect additional information to help reaching a decision as to whether an EHC needs assessment is required.  Usually there will be a shared view about this and it is the school that usually make the request to the local authority.  The application should include the personal profile document completed with the child or young person and the parents or carers. 

Where the school does not have evidence to indicate that an EHC needs assessment is required the school is not expected to apply.  The school will consider a range of factors including, but not exclusively, the needs of the child or young person, their progress, the outcomes required, the actions taken by the school, the provision needed and the views, wishes and aspirations of the child, young person and their parents or carers. 

Parents or an advocate can request an EHC needs assessment if they feel it is required.  Professionals can also make a request. Young people over the age of 16 (or an advocate on their behalf) also have a right to request an EHC needs assessment.   As the local authority has to collect a range of evidence, including evidence from the school or other education provider and the parents, a parental request or a school request is not quicker or slower. The local authority has a statutory duty to respond to the request within 6 weeks.  This happens regardless of where the request comes from.

The local authority would usually expect to carry out an EHC statutory assessment for those children and young people:

  • Whose special educational needs (SEN) are long term, severe and complex.

(Educational needs are the trigger for an EHC needs assessment, the child or young person may or may not have social care and/ or health needs. Social care or health needs will not be considered as indicators of the need for an EHC needs assessment, although they will be taken into account during the process if the educational needs leads to an assessment).

  • Who have not made expected progress in response to relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person taken by the school or other educational setting
  • Who need SEN provision that cannot reasonably be provided within the resources normally/usually available to mainstream schools and other educational settings.

(In Sefton high needs top up funding is normally/usually available to all schools and is allocated on a regular basis following the approval of requests from schools to the SEN and Inclusion panel.  Almost all mainstream schools in Sefton have pupils who have high needs top up funding allocated to them).

In Sefton it is usual, normal and expected that children and young people with additional support needs of greater than £6000 will be allocated high needs top up funding to support the school or educational provider in ensuring that expected progress is made.

A referral for an EHC needs assessment will usually be made by the school or post 16 institution. Prior to making the request, it is expected that a meeting will be held with the parent/carer to complete the personal profile document and the EHC needs assessment application. The personal profile document gives an additional opportunity for the parents, carers to formally contribute their views and aspirations at this stage in the process.  The school will then submit this information to the SEN casework team, along with a personal profile completed with the child/young person as a request for an EHC needs assessment.

A request for an EHC needs assessment should be made in writing to:


The SEN Casework Team
Ainsdale Hope Centre
Sandringham Road
Ainsdale
Southport
PR8 2PJ

Or you can email them at: special.needs@sefton.gov.uk

This should include (click to download):

Consideration of requests for EHC needs assessments.

When the local authority receives a request for an EHC needs assessment, the parent/carer or young person will be allocated a named SEN Caseworker to support them through the process. Where there is no EHC application from the school, the school will be asked to submit this within 2 weeks to ensure that the SEN and Inclusion Panel have the information needed to advise the local authority and enable a response within the statutory time scale of six weeks.  In order to decide whether an EHC needs assessment is required the panel need to consider whether the child or young person has long term, severe and complex SEN, whether they have responded to relevant and purposeful actions taken by the school or other educational setting and whether the child or young person’s needs can be reasonably provided for within the resources normally/usually available to mainstream schools and settings, which includes high needs top up funding.  The panel needs to have information from the parents/ carers, the young person and the school or other educational setting in order to make this judgement.

The SEN and Inclusion Panel

Requests for EHC needs assessments are considered by the SEN and Inclusion Panel which is made up of officers from the local authority and representatives from nurseries/schools/colleges. The panel meets every two weeks during term time to:

  • Check that the referral meets the severity and process criteria.
  • Agree what additional advice might be sought and arrange for this to take place.

Decisions are communicated in writing to the parents/young people following the panel meeting. This must be within a maximum of 6 weeks from the request for assessment being received.

Where the decision is not to proceed with an assessment, the parents/young person will be informed of the reasons behind this decision and how they can appeal.

Gathering the information required for an EHC needs assessment.

Where the decision is to proceed with an EHC needs assessment, the SEN casework team will contact the parents/young person to check that the summary of their views is still up-to-date and to agree the additional information required.

The information collected must include advice about the child or young person’s education, health and care needs, desired outcomes and the special educational, health and care provision required to meet these needs and outcomes. Some of this information will however already be available and in the person-centred, outcomes led format required. It will therefore only be necessary to seek further advice where the child/young person’s needs have changed or there are gaps in the information provided. Where such advice is requested by the local authority it must normally be provided within six weeks of the request being made. The exemptions to this time limit are set out in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, which can be viewed/downloaded below:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1530/pdfs/uksi_20141530_en.pdf

Summary assessment

Once the EHC needs assessment is complete, a Plan Co-rdinator (usually an SEN caseworker) will consider all the information present and draw up a Summary Assessment, which will be a summary of:

Those assessments undertaken prior to the referral and any additional assessments undertaken as a result of the referral;

  • The child /young person’s needs across education, health and care.
  • The specific outcomes to be achieved and the provision to meet those outcomes.
  • The views of the child / young person and their family on how they would like services to be delivered.


The Summary Assessment will be shared with the strategic budget holders in Education, Health and Social Care who will:

  • Consider the Summary Assessment and confirm if an EHC Plan is required.
  • Agree the outcomes to be specified.
  • Determine an indicative budget.

Drawing up the plan

Following the decision to issue a draft plan, the Plan Co-ordinator will share this and all the information gathered, with the parents and professionals involved with the child to determine if there is agreement regarding the content of the draft EHC Plan. A plan meeting will be offered with parents to discuss the draft plan. However parents may choose not to have a meeting where they feel they have been involved with the assessment and are in agreement with the draft plan. Parents can always contact their named SEN caseworker if they want to discuss anything about the draft plan.

The EHC plan meeting provides an opportunity for the family to comment on, influence and discuss possible amendments to the draft EHC Plan. If there are no major changes, the Plan Co-ordinator draws up and issues the final Plan. If there are significant changes, the Plan Co-ordinator may redraft the plan and return it to the strategic budget holders for consideration. A final plan will then be issued.

Implement and review the EHC Plan 
Once the EHC Plan is agreed and issued, all those who are responsible for delivering the EHC Plan work together to achieve the agreed outcomes. The EHC Plan will be reviewed at least annually and within 12 months.

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