Checking an EHCP
Agreeing the EHCP:
Once you get the Draft EHCP and you have been sent a copy for comments, you have fifteen days to get back to the LA, though if circumstances make that difficult, you can apply for an extension by emailing your SEND Caseworker. 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.
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.
This is an opportunity for you to check whether the draft EHC plan contains everything it should.
Name of School or type of school:
A 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 – in section I. This is because the EHC plan 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 EHC plan, not the draft plan.
What should the LA do:
Along with the draft EHC plan, the LA must give notice to the parent or young person that they 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.
What can I do:
You can also ask for a meeting with the LA to discuss your concerns. If you want a meeting, the LA is 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 LA officer as a reminder to them.
Requesting a particular school:
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 EHC plan (unless your request is for a wholly independent school).
What should a plan look like?
Your SEND Caseworker 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 within the reports.
How do I check the draft plan?
Remember: You have 15 days to put forward your views to the LA about the contents of the plan and to say which school or other educational place you would like your child to go to. You can ask to meet with the LA and other people who gave advice as part of the EHC assessment process. This is your chance to ask questions if anything is unclear or to say if you think anything in the plan should be changed, before the final plan is issued.
1) Make a cup of tea or coffee and get comfortable…his is going to take some time so this first point is important!!
2) Check section K – is every report that is listed included?
Please note: If there are reports missing you need to notify your SEND Caseworker and request a copy of these as soon as possible.
3) Get two different coloured highlighters.
You need one to highlight “needs” and the other for the “provision“.
A diagnostic label does not describe need – focus on practical implications of any health conditions or impairments on different areas of the children or young person’s life.
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.
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.
4) Read through each report which you will have received along with the draft EHC plan. 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 (need and provision) is within the draft plan.
When the LA writes an EHC plan, 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 an LA 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 your child requires which must be specified in Section B and F.
5) Make a note of anything that is not include 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.
6) 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.
7) If you need to ask that the draft EHC plan is amended in order to specify all of the special educational provision for your child, you need to do this within the 15 days.
You could remind the LA that in law Section F of the EHC Plan it must specify all of the special educational provision, regardless of who is delivering it.
Outcomes: Outcomes should appear in Section E of the EHC Plan. 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 EHC Plan remains in place until outcomes have been met. Outcomes are also not appealable.
If you are unable to persuade the LA at the draft EHC plan stage to properly specify all of the provision that is needed then you will need to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal when the EHC plan 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.
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 EHC plan 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, our bold type).
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.