This section provides information and advice about the EHC Needs Assessment and EHC Plans
What is an Education, Health Care Plan ( EHCP )
Most children and young people with special educational needs will have their needs met through extra support provided by the education setting.
This is known as SEN Support and can include a wide range of provision and interventions.
However, if the educational setting has exhausted all the possible support options and your child or young person is still not making expected progress, or where the setting is not sure how to support your child, it may be appropriate to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment (the first stage in getting an EHC plan).
Talk to the SENCO in school (or to student/learning support for a college or the keyworker in a nursery) about the support in place, your child/young person’s rate of progress and what their plan for next steps might be.
When considering a request, the local authority will expect to see evidence of any progress that has been made in the education setting, and that the setting has done everything they can (including seeking specialist advice from outside agencies) to help your child or young person.
The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:
“In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress.” (9.14)
You can find out more information regarding What is an EHCP HERE
Also on The Bexley Local Offer Page: What is an EHCP
EHC Timeline available HERE
Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment
For information on what you need to consider prior to requesting a needs assessment please view the short video below. For more information on the needs assessment process:
The Bexley Local Offer: The EHC Needs Assessment process in Bexley.
IPSEA: Complaining when the LA don’t respond to your EHC Needs Assessment application at the end of 6 weeks: Template Letter
Video shared courtesy of SEND IASS Suffolk
What you should do if your EHC needs assessment application is rejected.
The local authority must tell you in writing within 6-weeks whether or not they are going to assess your child, this is a statutory requirement.
The 6-week time limit runs from the date on which the LA receives the request for assessment.
When it is classed as ‘received’ will depend on the method used to send it. If it is:
- Delivered by hand, the 6 weeks runs from the day of delivery (or the following working day if it is delivered after 5pm or on a non-working day);
- Sent by signed for delivery, the 6 weeks runs from the date on which a representative of the LA signs for it (you will be able to check online when the item was delivered);
- Sent by first class post, the 6 weeks runs from the next working day after it was posted;
- Sent by e-mail, the 6 weeks runs from the day that it is sent (or the following working day if it is sent after 5pm or on a non-working day)
If the LA have made the decision not to complete an EHC needs assessment they must write to you informing you of their decision and they must provide information on your right to appeal.
Are there exceptions to the time limit?
Yes. There are some circumstances in which an LA may not be required to comply with the 6-week time limit if it would be impractical for it to do so. These are where:
(a) The LA asks for advice about the request from a school, college or early years provider during a time when it is closed for a period of longer than 4 weeks (i.e. in the summer holidays), or in the week before it closes for such a period.
(b) During the six-week period, exceptional personal circumstances affect the child, the child’s parent or the young person or they are away for more than 4 weeks.
The LA will only be able to rely on one of these exceptions if it can show that making the decision on time would be impractical.
The LA is still required to notify you of its decision on your request as soon as possible.
If you have applied for an EHC Needs Assessment and your application has been rejected, you may wish to consider Mediation / lodging an appeal.
For more information on Mediation and challenging the LA’s decision, please follow this link MEDIATION
What happens next if your EHC needs assessment application is accepted.
The Local Authority must decide whether to proceed with an assessment and let you know within six weeks of the initial request.
Once the Local Authority have agreed to assess, you will be allocated a temporary case officer within the Statutory SEN Service.
For more information on the Statutory Assessment process in Bexley please refer to the Bexley Local Offer: Education, Health and Care Plans – The Assessment Process in Bexley | Bexley Local Offer
EHC Timeline available HERE
What to do when you receive the Draft EHC Plan.
Following an, if the LA decides to issue an EHC plan, they must send the parent / carer or young person a draft version at week 16 of the 20 week process.
EHC Timeline available HERE
This draft plan will include information on the child or young person’s special educational needs in Section B, health and social care needs in Section C & D, the provision required to meet each of those needs in Section F, and the outcomes that should be achieved in Section E.
Section A of the draft plan will record the child or young person’s aspirations, views and feelings. This is an opportunity for you to check whether the draft EHC plan contains everything it should.
Section I of the draft EHC plan must not include the name of a particular school, college or other educational placement, or what type of placement the child or young person will attend. The name and/or type of placement will appear only in the final EHC plan, not the draft plan.
Along with the draft EHC plan, the LA must give you notice that you have 15 days in which to:
- make comments (representations) about the draft EHC plan;
- request a meeting with the LA to discuss the draft;
- request that a particular school or other institution is named in the final EHC plan.
The LA are legally required to do this (under section 38 of the Children and Families Act 2014).
If you are not happy with any aspect of the draft EHC plan, or the reports attached to it, you can suggest amendments you would like made.
When you make a request for a particular school, college or other institution, the LA must consult with that institution about whether it should be named in the final EHC plan (unless your request is for a wholly independent school).
You can respond to anything you’re not happy with in the draft EHC plan, to request a meeting, and to request a particular school or other institution is named.
For guidance on how to do this please refer to the IPSEA model letter HERE.
In order to comply with the overall timescale of 20 weeks from the request for assessment to the final EHC plan, the draft EHC plan should be issued within 14 weeks from the request for an EHC needs assessment. If the LA do not send you the draft EHC plan within this time frame, you can complain using the IPSEA model letter HERE.
For more information on checking the EHC Draft plan please click: Bexley IASS checking your EHC Draft plan HERE
Refusal to issue an EHC Plan.
Between week 13 – 16 of the EHC process you may receive a refusal to Issue letter from the Local Authority.
The decision letter from the local authority will explain your right to mediation and appeal.
Firstly, It’s important to fully understand why the local authority reached this decision. It’s always a good idea to continue talking to the local authority about your concerns, or any questions you have about the reasons they gave in reaching their decision. Further information will help you decide whether to appeal and should you decide to, will be key when building your case.
Before appealing you must firstly consider mediation, this can be really useful for example, where you have some additional information or a new report you would like to share with the local authority.
EHC Timeline available HERE
What should be included in the final EHCP?
An Education, Health and Care plan (“EHC plan”) is a legal document
which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.
The special educational provision (Support provided) described in an EHC plan must be provided by the child or young person’s local authority (“LA”).
This means an EHCP can give a child or young person extra educational
support. It can also give parents and young people more choice about which school or other setting the child or young person can attend.
An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an.
For more information about the Education Health Care Plan:
Bexley IASS: EHC Plans explained
The Bexley Local Offer: EHC Plans.
IPSEA: EHC Plan checklist
The EHCP Annual Review.
The purpose of an EHC plan Annual Review is to ensure that the contents of the EHC plan are still relevant and are helping your child to make progress towards their aspirations and the outcomes in their plan.
The EHCP must be reviewed at least once a year by the local authority. This is to ensure it stays up-to-date and continues to provide the support the child or young person needs.
At the end of the review, there are only three decisions the LA can make:
- To maintain the EHC plan in its current format (not make any changes);
- To amend the EHC plan;
- To cease the EHC plan if they think it is no longer necessary for it to be in place
The annual review is a statutory process and a way of reviewing the needs, provision and outcomes specified in an EHC Plan, and deciding whether these need to change.
The first review of the EHC plan must be held within 12 months of the EHC plan being finalised. Subsequent reviews must be held within 12 months of the previous review date.
The following steps must take place in an annual review:
- The LA must consult with the parent of the child or young person (and with the school or institution being attended if there is one) about the EHC plan, and take account of their views, wishes and feelings.
- An annual review meeting must take place to discuss the EHC plan.
- Information must be gathered from parents and young people and from professionals about the EHC plan and then circulated two weeks before the meeting.
- After the meeting a report of what happened must be prepared and circulated to everyone who attended or submitted information to be discussed.
- After the meeting the LA reviews the EHC plan.
- The LA must notify the parent of the child or young person of their decision within four weeks of the meeting.
It is important to remember, the Annual Review is a process not an event so all of these steps must be followed in order for an EHC Plan annual review to be completed.
For further information refer to the IPSEA Annual Review checklist
Bexley IASS have developed a Guide for parents, carers and YP preparing for the EHCP Annual review: Preparing for the Annual Review
Please view the helpful video below on EHC Plan Annual Review, courtesy of the Council for Disabled Children.
Requesting an early review of the EHCP
You can request a review of the EHCP at any time, as long as you have a good reason.
You should ask for an early statutory review if you believe:
- that your child/young person’s education, health or social care needs have changed and are no longer accurately described in the EHC plan; or
- that the education, health or social care provision in the EHC plan is no longer meeting your child/ young person’s needs. This includes if you feel that section I (the placement) needs to be reviewed.
Discuss this with your child’s class/ subject teacher and the Head teacher/ Principal of the College about your worries, as well as contacting the local authority.
IPSEA have a model letter for requesting an early review of an EHC plan: IPSEA model letter to request an early review
The Local Authority may disagree with your reasons for an Early Review of the EHCP.
You can contact them to discuss this further, but you have no right of appeal with this decision.
You will need to gather further evidence to support your request or wait until the usual Annual Review date. You could also ask for re-assessment of your child’s needs.
This is helpful if their needs have changed significantly since the EHC plan was first issued, the professional advice used to write the plan needs to be updated, or the provision is no longer meeting needs.
IPSEA have a model letter to request re assessment of needs if this is the case: IPSEA model letter to request re-assessment.
Choosing a school for your child with Special Educational Needs
Bexley IASS works at arms-length from the local authority, we offer impartial information, advice and support around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Due to our impartiality, we cannot offer advice or opinion on the most suitable school for your child.