EHCPs being Quantified and Specified

What does quantified and specified mean? 

Quantified and specified means information that is described in a way that it is crystal clear to anyone reading it. It means that information is precise and unambiguous. Something is quantified when the amount is calculated clearly. 

An Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) are binding, legal documents, which should detail what the child/young person’s needs are and precisely what support they will receive to meet each of those needs.  

Firstly, advice sought by professionals to inform the EHCP should be quantified and specified. 

The evidence and advice submitted by those providing it should be clear, accessible and specific. They should provide advice about outcomes relevant for the child or young person’s age and phase of education and strategies for their achievement. The local authority may provide guidance about the structure and format of advice and information to be provided. Professionals should limit their advice to areas in which they have expertise. They may comment on the amount of provision they consider a child or young person requires and local authorities should not have blanket policies which prevent them from doing so. (Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years) 

The advice sought from professionals will set out the support needed in the following sections: 

  • Section F - the special educational provision required by the child or young person. 
  • Section G - any health care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs. 
  • Section H1 - any social care provision which must be made for the child or young person as a result of section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. 
  • Section H2 – any other social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs. 

This is set out in Regulation 12 of The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014. These are the areas of the EHCP that you will want to check for specificity and quantification. 

Then, in writing EHCPs, a local authority (LA) must by law ‘specify’ the support children and young people must receive.  

Provision must be specified for each and every need specified in section B. It should be clear how the provision will support achievement of the outcomes. (Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years) 

The detail in an EHCP should mean that children & young people with an EHCP, their parents & the professionals who are supporting them know exactly what support is in place. This should include details regarding what the Special Educational Need’s (SEN) are, what Special Educational Provision (SEP) is required, how often they will receive it, how long it will be, when & where they will receive it, who will deliver the provision & what level of training & expertise they need to hold. 

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, including where this support is secured through a Personal Budget (Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years) 

Remember that SEP is defined as educational provision or in the case of the Children and Families Act 2014, educational or training provision – which is “additional to or different from” that made generally for others of the same age in mainstream settings. This means that all the support which the child or young person is receiving which is additional or different must be set out and specified. 

The LA have a statutory duty to specify as required by section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (“CAFA”): 

“an EHC plan is a plan specifying: 
(a) the child’s or young person’s special educational needs; 
(b) the outcomes sought for him or her; 
(c) the special educational provision required by him or her; 
(d) any health care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in him or her having special educational needs; 
(e) in the case of a child or a young person aged under 18, any social care provision which must be made for him or her by the local authority as a result of section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (as it applies by virtue of section 28A of that Act); 
(f) any social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs, to the extent that the provision is not already specified in the plan under paragraph (e) …” 

Once such detail is set down, it enables the support to be enforced; parents and young people can tell when provision is inadequate or is not being delivered at all. If the provision sections are vague or omit things, the plan will not be any use. 

Example – if the provision is to take part in group activities, the detail should also include: 

  • what the activity is 
  • what the activity content is 
  • what the activity is 
  • what the activity content is 
  • what the activity is 
  • what the activity content is 

Needs and Provision – needs must be adequately described first! 

The sections dealing with provision depend on getting the needs sections right. The case law below is about statements, but it is expected that these cases will be applicable to EHCP too because the wording and duties they examine remain almost the same: 

Court of Appeal in R v Secretary of State for Education and Science Ex Parte E (1992) 1 FLR 277. 

This case also established that all needs must be described, not just those which have given rise to the statement, but those which may be being catered for by the school/institution. The judges said: 

“Whilst the authority can undoubtedly take the view that some part of the child’s special educational needs can be adequately provided by his ordinary school, once they (the authority) are bound to make and maintain a statement … that statement must … specify all the special educational provision to be made for the purpose of meeting those needs, whether provided by the authority or by the school … and with a degree of particularity sufficient to satisfy [the law on specificity].” 

In A v Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal & Anor [2003] (25 November 2003) the court specifically considered the question of the order in which the parts of a statement should be written: 

“In producing a statement ….it is the duty of a local education authority to decide first what are a child’s special educational needs within Part 2, secondly what special educational provision is necessary to meet those needs within Part 3 and thirdly to make an appropriate placement within Part 4. These questions have to be addressed in this order because it is only when a decision has been taken as to a child’s special educational needs that it is possible to decide what provision is required to meet them”. 

This underlines the principles that needs have to considered first and it means that provision should not be placement specific, i.e. the question of placement should be considered after, and not before the special educational provision has been specified in the statement and the same will apply to an EHC plan. 

Thus, an EHC plan has to be developed by first setting out the details of the needs and then, from those needs, working out what special educational provision is required to meet those needs. 

How do I make my child’s EHCP more specific and quantified? 

Focus on the child’s needs and the specifics of what they require to meet them. There can be an element of flexibility to the EHCP, however this does not justify a lack of specific information where detail could reasonably be given.  

Ask yourself:

  • Are all the special educational needs referred to in the evidence detailed in Section B of the plan? If not go through adding in what is missing, keeping a note of where in the evidence the missing information is contained. 
  • Then carry out the same exercise in relation to special educational provision. Is all the special educational provision in Section F of the EHC plan? Is the special educational provision in the right section? 
  • Then consider whether the outcomes are properly specified. Also check that social care needs, or health care needs are properly described as well as social care provision and health care provision – remember though that provision which educates or trains is special educational provision, not health care provision. 
  • Now go back and look for what we call the ‘weasel words’ – such as ‘access to’, ‘opportunities for’ or ‘up to’ as in ‘up to X hours’. These are vague, meaningless and may dilute the provision that is needed. Words like this need to be removed and redrafted so that it is clear exactly what has been specified. 

If following assessments, the report writers have written vague and unspecified strategies in their reports, the case officer should be ensuring the evidence they receive makes the EHC legally compliant.