If a child is not making as much progress as expected or is failing to make progress at the additional SEN Support stage, then a request should be made to the Local Authority (LA) by either the parents or the child’s school, requesting the LA to carry out an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. The aim of the assessment is to result in an Educational Health & Care Plan (EHCP) being issued for the child.
Is the EHCP legally binding?
The EHCP is a document that is legally binding on the LA. It is important to understand that it is only the educational aspects of the Plan that are binding on the LA. What this means, is that the LA has a legal duty to provide any educational support that is set out under the educational section of the Plan – but not health and/or social care.
Health and social care
The Plan will detail health and social care support but this will only be provision that has already been agreed by health and/or social care through their own assessments. The EHCP does not entitle the child to receive any more and current law does not allow for challenges to the health and/or social care support set out in the Plan in the way that education support can be challenged.
A holistic assessment
When questioning whether or not a child requires an EHCP, the LA will carry out an EHC needs assessment, collating reports and information from the child’s school, parents, Educational Psychologist, any other relevant therapists (e.g. Occupational, Speech and Language and Physiotherapists), teachers of hearing impaired and visual impaired, if relevant, and medical professionals and social services. The LA must seek information from all these professionals. So, if nothing else, an EHC needs assessment should encompass a full holistic assessment resulting in a better understanding of their difficulties.
Parents can submit any other reports or information that they may have obtained separate to the formal EHC needs assessment process. The aim is to try and determine exactly what difficulties the child has in accessing their education and to understand the support that is required to meet those difficulties. Any health and social care needs and provision should also be set out in the Plan so that all information is outlined in one document. The EHCP should be an easily readable format so that anyone reading it can easily understand the child’s difficulties and it is clear what provision is to be made and by whom.
Support up to 25 years
The EHCP should secure educational provision for the child and help to prepare them for adulthood as they get older. The Plan can remain in place up to the age of 25 provided that the young adult is still learning and their educational outcomes have not yet been met. Many children/young adults with brain injury take longer to achieve their goals and will continue learning well beyond 18 years. They can continue to be supported through the EHCP into further education and apprenticeships.
Young adults will continue to have their EHCP reviewed annually so there is an added layer of protection when they transition to post-19 college.
Produced by Laxmi Patel, head of Boyes Turner’s Education team
This article was written for us by Laxmi Patel who leads Boyes Turner’s leading Education team. An expert in special educational needs, Laxmi works closely with parents, schools, local authorities and case managers to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities receive the support they need to achieve their potential in their education.
Boyes Turner is a Reading based full service law firm with a dedicated Education team who help families get the extra help and support they require for their children with special educational needs and disabilities.
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