Educational Health and Care Plans – is your child getting the right learning support?

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Under the government’s new roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions, children returned to school on 8 March. Most parents undoubtedly welcomed this news due to concerns about the impact of lockdown on their child’s education.

For parents of children with additional needs, the situation is likely to be slightly different. If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan in place, they will most likely have still been attending full-time education under the terms of their plan. However, if your child is considered extremely clinically vulnerable, they may have been learning from home and it’s possible this may need to continue, even as schools start to reopen to most pupils.

There are also those parents who, having taken a more direct role in their children’s education during lockdown, may find themselves wondering if their child has additional needs that have been previously missed.

No matter the situation, if you know or suspect that your child has additional needs, it is essential to make sure you understand your options for securing the support they need in order to get the most out of their education.

What is an Educational Health and Care Plan?

An Educational Health and Care Plan (often referred to as an EHCP or EHC Plan) is a way of identifying any additional support or needs children and young people (up to the age of 25) have, above and beyond what is available through special educational needs support.

If your child is given an EHCP, it will cover issues such as:

  • Their needs related to health, social care and education
  • Planned outcomes for your child
  • Any health, social care and special educational provision that must be provided for your child
  • Details of any personal budget that will be provided to support your child and what it will be used for
  • Any provision required for your child to prepare for adulthood and independent living (for children in year 9 and above)

Who is eligible for an EHC Plan?

Anyone can apply for assessment for an Education Health and Care Plan for their child. Young people aged 16-25 can also apply for themselves where appropriate.

Whether an EHC Plan will be created will depend on the outcome of that assessment and, ultimately, whether your local authority believes the child or young person needs additional support.

How to get an EHCP plan for your child

If you want to have your child assessed for an Educational Health and Care Plan, you can apply to your local authority at any time. They will then decide whether they believe an assessment is required.

An ECHP assessment will normally look at various things, including reports from your child’s school, doctors reports and evidence from you about your child’s needs. Following an assessment, your local authority will inform you whether they believe your child would benefit from an EHCP.

If the local authority decides to create an EHC Plan, they will create a draft copy which you will be sent to review. You will be given 15 days to respond to the draft, including raising any questions, requesting changes and deciding whether to ask for your child to be admitted to a specialist school or college.

Where it is determined that your child needs an EHC Plan, then your local authority must give you the final plan no later than 20 weeks from when they received the original assessment request.

Can an Education Health and Care Plan be amended by parents?

You can request amendments to the provisions set out in an EHC Plan, but ultimately this decision will be for the local authority. If they turn down your request, you may need to take the matter to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal for review.

The SEND Tribunal can order an EHCP to be changed if they feel a child’s needs are not being adequately catered for in the existing plan. Appealing to your local authority or the SEND Tribunal can be complicated, so we recommend getting specialist legal advice if you wish to take this step.

What if your child is turned down for an assessment or EHCP?

In some cases, a local authority may decide not to carry out an assessment or, following an assessment, choose not to create an EHC Plan. If this happens, you have the right to challenge these decisions.

In the first instance, you would need to raise this with your local authority and ask them to look again at their decision. If you are unhappy with the outcome of this, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal for a decision.

It is well worth getting specialist advice if you intend to appeal to your local authority or the SEND Tribunal. This can help to make sure you gather all of the necessary evidence to support your appeal and give you the best chance of getting the right outcome for your child.

EHCP support for children learning from home

If your child is currently learning from home, whether because they are considered clinically extremely vulnerable or for any other reason, you may have concerns about whether their support needs are being met.

Your local authority has an obligation to use their best endeavours to make sure your child is receiving the provision set out in their Education Health and Care Plan. Exactly how this is achieved should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, so your local authority and your child’s school or college should be in regular contact with you about this.

Should you feel that your child is not getting the support they need, then you can contact your EHCP Locality Lead, who can advise you on any steps that can be taken to improve the support available to your child.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of consulting your EHCP Locality Lead or would like advice on what additional support options may be available and what approach to take to secure that support, our educational law team would be happy to help.

Consult our expert education law solicitors for EHCP legal advice

At IBB Law, we are passionate about making sure children get all of the support they need for their education. We know what a critical time this is, especially for children with additional needs, so are ready to step in and help to secure the right educational support for your child.

Our education law solicitors have extensive experience advising families on Educational Health and Care Plans, working with parents and schools to get extra support for children who need it. IBB Law Consultant Salima Mawji has been recognised as one of the UK’s leading experts in education law, so we can provide assurance that your family are in safe hands.

We offer an initial consultation for a fixed fee of £250 + VAT to discuss your child’s situation and provide clear, practical advice on your options if you are unhappy with the support they have been offered by their school or college. This consultation can take place over the phone or via video conferencing to suit you.

To book your initial consultation or to find out more about how we can help with EHCP problems, please contact Salima Mawji