Checking an EHCP

This guidance is for whenever the EHCP is in draft form.  It is called a ‘Draft’ when the Plan has never been finalised then it’s called ‘Draft Amended’ whenever it is in draft form after it is first finalised.

Agreeing the EHCP

Once you get the Draft Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you have 15 days to get back to the LA, though if circumstances make that difficult, you can apply for an extension by emailing your SEN Case Officer.  This should be done in writing (an email) stating why you require the extension.

Please note –   The 15 days is from the date on the letter that was received with the draft Plan and not when it was received in the post.

To carry out a check you will need ALL the reports listed in Section K of the EHCP.

The Plan will include information on the child or young person’s special educational needs (SEN), health and care needs, the provision required to meet each of those needs, and the outcomes that should be achieved. It will also record the child or young person’s aspirations, views and feelings.  These all come under Sections, i.e. B, F etc.

When the EHCP is in draft / draft amended, it is an opportunity for you to check whether the EHCP contains everything it should.

Name of School or type of school

Before the EHCP is first finalised – a draft EHCP 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 – in section I. This is because the EHCP must reflect the individual’s needs and the provision to meet those needs, not the resources which can be offered in a particular placement. This means that the name and/or type of placement will appear only in the final EHCP, not the draft plan.

What should the LA do

Along with the draft EHCP, Surrey must give notice to the parent or young person that they have 15 days in which to:

make comments about the draft EHCP (can be called representations)

You can do this by simply writing a list of all the things you feel are missing or need adding or are wrong.  This maybe missing information on needs and/or provision from a report listed in section K, a whole report that is missing, changes to information that is wrong.

request a meeting with Surrey to discuss the draft

If you want a meeting, Surrey are legally required to agree to meet you. You should consider taking someone along with you for support.  You should also consider writing down the exact points you want to make and the questions you want to ask, so that you can be sure that you don’t miss out anything you want to say at the meeting. You can leave a copy of your points with the Case Officer as a reminder to them.

request that a particular school or other institution is named in the final EHCP.

You should get a sheet from Surrey that asks which school you would like your child to attend.  You are able to state more than one School if you wish. When you make a request for a particular school, college or other institution, the LA must consult with that institution (school, college or other educational institution) about whether it should be named in the final EHCP (unless your request is for a wholly independent school).

Surrey are legally required to do this (under section 38 of the Children and Families Act 2014).

What should a plan look like?

Your Case Officer should copy and paste the wording from reports into section B for needs and section F for provision.  They are not able to add anything that is not stated in the reports.

How do I check the draft plan?

  • Make a cup of tea or coffee and get comfortable…this is going to take some time so this first point is important!!
  • Check section K – is every report you have / know about listed and do you have a copy?

Please note: If there are reports missing you need to notify your Case Officer and request a copy of these as soon as possible.

  • Get two different coloured highlighters.

You need one to highlight “needs” and the other for the “provision”.

Need – a need is anything that becomes a barrier to the child’s ability to learn, e.g. a child with mental health issues (i.e. anxiety) which is preventing them from accessing the curriculum, would be classed as having a SEN.

Provision – the recommendations made by professionals as to what support your child requires to make progress and to access the curriculum. So anything educational that is over and above that of what the child’s peers would get.

The SEN Code of Practice is very clear that provision should usually be specified and quantified:

Provision must be detailed and specific and should normally be quantified, for example, in terms of the type, hours and frequency of support and level of expertise.

e.g. 3 ½ hours a week of speech and language therapy.

  • Read through each report. As you read you need to highlight the needs and provision. We read the EP report last as this is normally the longest and most of it will be in sections B and F.

You need to ensure that each point (each need (in B) and each provision (in F)) is written within the draft Plan.

When Surrey writes an EHCP, they must by Law ‘specify’ the help your child must receive. This means describing it in enough detail so that you and your child, among others, can clearly tell what must be delivered, how often, how long for and who by. The duty on Surrey to specify is ‘statutory’ as it is required by section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

There could be specific recommendations about the type and frequency of special educational provision (SEP) your child requires which must be specified in Section B and F.

  • Make a note of anything that is not included OR any wording that may have been changed, i.e. reports state the word MUST and the draft now states SHOULD.

Make a list of things you want changed in the draft Plan.  It should include WHICH report it is in and WHERE it is written. You can bullet point these or make a clear list – whatever you find easier.

  • Ensure you read the whole Plan from the beginning to the end and ensure you are happy with it and it is correct. Initial every page that you have amended or changed.
  • If you need to ask that the draft EHCP is amended in order to specify all of the SEP for your child, you need to do this within the 15 days.

You could remind Surrey that in Law Section F of the EHCP it must specify all of the SEP, regardless of who is delivering it.

Outcomes should appear in Section E of the EHCP. These will often be taken from reports written by professionals. These should be medium term goals set for your child. Outcomes become increasingly important from Year 9 as your child enters the ‘preparing for adulthood’ stage and post 16 onwards, as the EHCP remains in place until outcomes have been met. Outcomes are not appealable.

If you are unable to persuade Surrey at the draft EHCP stage to properly specify all of the provision that is needed then you will need to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal when the EHCP is finalised. The deadline for appealing is two months from the date of the final plan or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever date falls the latest. Please note we have a lot of information on Appeals.

Useful information:

This guidance can be used in line with the Council for disabled children (CDC) guidance – Education, Health and Care plans – examples of good practice and our Information Sheet – EHCP and the section contents.

The four underpinning principles

The preparation process and the contents of the EHCP must reflect the four key statutory principles which require LAs to have regard to:

(a) the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parent, or the young person;

(b) the importance of the child and his or her parent, or the young person, participating as fully as possible in decisions relating to the exercise of the function concerned;

(c) the importance of the child and his or her parent, or the young person, being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions;

(d) the need to support the child and his or her parent, or the young person, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help him or her achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.

(Children and Families Act, section 19).

While you are checking your child’s Plan, remember:

Plans should also be “clear, concise, understandable and accessible to parents, children, young people, providers and practitioners”.

The law requires needs and provision to be “specified”, which case law has established means no vagueness, especially in the provision sections.