EHC (EDUCATION, HEALTH AND CARE) PLANS
An EHC plan is the document which replaces Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments for children and young people with special educational needs.
This Checklist sets out what legally must be included as a minimum in any Education, Health and Care Plan (“EHC plan”) issued by a Local Authority.
An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of EHC needs assessment. At the end of that process, the local authority has to make a decision, either to issue an EHC Plan or not.
If the LA refuses to issue an EHC plan, the parent/young person must be informed of the reasons and that they have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
If the decision is to issue an EHC plan, the LA must first issue a draft EHC plan for the parents or young person to consider. Only at this stage will parents/young person be asked to name the type of school/college they want e.g. mainstream or special school and the individual school/college they want to have named in the EHC plan.
The LA will then consult with that school/college about being named in the EHC plan.
As well as the special educational needs and special educational provision of the child/young person, the draft EHC plan should also detail:
- Health care provision that has been assessed as reasonably required;
- Social care provision which is being made for the child/young person under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and any other social care provision that has been assessed as reasonably required.
The LA will then finalise the EHC plan.
The LA will then have the legal duty to “secure” the educational provision specified in the EHC plan, that is, to ensure that the provision is delivered.
The local health care provider will have the legal duty to “arrange” the health care provision specified in the EHC plan, that is, to ensure that the provision is delivered.
If the EHC plan specifies social care provision provided under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, the LA will have a legal duty to make that social care provision under that Act (but not any other social care provision in the EHC Plan not resulting from that legislation).
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NAMING A SCHOOL OR COLLEGE IN AN EHC PLAN
When a parent or young person requests a –
- maintained school – mainstream or special;
- maintained nursery school – mainstream or special;
- Academy (including Free school, Studio school or University Technical College) mainstream or special;
- an institution within the further education sector in England – mainstream or special;
- a non-maintained special school; or
- an Independent Special school approved by the Secretary of State under section 41.
is named in an EHC plan the Local Authority must do this unless they can prove that one of the follow exceptions apply:
- the school or other institution is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs of the child or young person;
- the attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others;
- the attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources.
These are the only reasons that the LA can reject a parent or young person’s request. They are actually difficult for a LA to argue successfully as they presume that the child or young person’s needs have been fully identified and that the right provision will be put in place to ensure their attendance is successful. As you can see it does not include the ground that a school/college is full or that the school/college is in a neighbouring LA. Also, if the parent or young person requests one of these ‘type’ schools/colleges within 15 days of receiving the draft EHC Plan the LA must consult the school/college, they cannot refuse to do so.
Once named in an EHC plan then the school/college must admit the child or young person.
The list above includes most types of schools. This does not mean, though, that a school/college not on this list, such as an independent school not approved under section 41, cannot be named in an EHC plan. This is a misconception. A parent or young person can make representations to the LA about an independent school they wish to have named in the plan. The LA must have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure. Public expenditure includes all the costs to the public purse of the placement not just those incurred by the LA education budget. This can include social care costs, health costs and any other costs incurred by any public body.
Parents/young people have a right to have a mainstream school or college named in the EHC plan. This is an important right and the LA cannot deny this on the grounds that a mainstream school or college is not suitable and the child or young person should attend special school when it is not what parents or the young person wants. This is even if the LA view is supported by professionals.
The LA can only reject a request for mainstream education on one of two very limited grounds which are:
- the wishes of the child’s parent or the young person;
- that it is incompatible with the provision of efficient education for others.
As well as not including whether or not mainstream is suitable for the child/young person, costs are also not a relevant consideration. This does not mean that a child or young person has to attend a mainstream school or college if they do not want to but the starting presumption is that everyone can have a mainstream education. It applies not just to attending a mainstream school/college but also to taking mainstream courses.
CHANGES TO AN EHC PLAN
Once an EHC plan is in place for a child or young person, it is unlikely to remain the same over time.
It may become apparent quite quickly that the EHC plan does not specify the special educational needs or provision adequately; the school placement may break down; or it may simply be that with the passage of time, the EHC plan becomes out of date, especially where outcomes may have been too unambitious or short term.
In addition, the family may move to another local authority. It may happen that the child or young person makes so much progress that the EHC plan is no longer needed; or the local authority may decide that it wishes to cease to maintain the EHC plan.
These are examples of reasons why an EHC plan may need to be changed. In addition, at least once a year, subject to certain exceptions, the EHC plan is required to be reviewed under the provisions of the Children and Families Act 2014.
Thank you IPSEA.