Education, Health and Care Plans (EHC Plans)

EHC Plans will replace statements of SEN. They will also replace LDAs (which apply in some post 16 settings).

Currently, beyond the age of 16, children or young people can only have a statement if they are educated in a school. Under the new proposals, children or young people up to the age of 25 can have an EHC Plan, providing they remain in education or training (including apprenticeships).

Young people who are going to university or become employed will not be eligible for an EHC Plan.

Eligibility for an EHC plan

Any child or young person that currently has a statement will have an EHC Plan. Any young person between the ages of 16 and 19 who currently have a LDA may also have an EHC Plan.

The trigger for the new EHC Plan will be education. This means that if a young person has a health or social care need, they will not get an EHC Plan unless these needs impact on their education.

Requesting an EHC Assessment

The following people have the specific right to ask the LA to conduct an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person aged between 0-25:

  • the child’s parent;
  • a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25;
  • a person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution (ideally with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible);
  • CYP under 19 in youth custodial establishments – or their parent or a professional working with them (being introduced from April 2015).

Other people can bring a child or young person who has, or may have SEN, to the attention of the LA – e.g. foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams, probation services, educational professionals from custody placements, school or college staff or family friends.

If you have any questions about submitting a request for assessment please contact the Access Service:

How the assessments work

Section 9 of the new SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years sets out how the assessments should be carried out how the local authorities should go about writing an EHC Plan.

Some of the key points include:

  • The views of children, young people and their families must be sought and they must be involved during the assessment process.
  • Disruption to the family should be minimised. This includes avoiding multiple assessments and appointments. There should also be a tell us once approach so that families do not have to repeat the same information to different professionals.
  • Families should be provided with impartial information, advice and support. In the case of young people over the age of 16, a separate service of impartial information, advice and support should be available to them. Young people may also be provided with an advocate by the local authority to make sure their views are heard and acknowledged.
  • The assessment process should be carried out in a timely manner and it should not normally take longer than 20 weeks to issue a Plan.
  • EHC Plans should be focused on the outcomes an individual child is expected to achieve. Any targets must be specific and set out what support is needed to achieve those outcomes.
  • EHC Plans should be clear, concise and positive. They should also be free from jargon.
  • It should reflect the views of the child or young person.

EHC Plans must include separate sections on:

  • The views, interests and aspirations of the child or young person and family (section A)
  • What the special educational need is (section B)
  • Any health needs relating to their SEND (section C)
  • Any social care needs relating to their SEND (section D)
  • The outcomes sought for that individual child or young person (section E)
  • What support is needed for the child or young person’s SEND (section F)
  • What support is needed from health or social care services (sections G and H)
  • The name and type of school or other placement (section I)
  • Personal budgets (section J)
  • Advice and information gathered during the assessment (section K)

The EHC Plan can also include wider information about a child’s social care needs.

If a child or young person has received a social care assessment under what is known as the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, then any support identified as needed under this assessment must be included in an EHC Plan.

Other social care assessments can also feed into the EHC Plan, providing that it relates to the child’s special educational need. Steps will be taken to ensure sensitive information, including about particularly vulnerable children, is not disclosed more widely than it needs to be.

Preparing EHC Plans

Local authorities will be adopting a key working approach whereby the family has a single point of contact.

A key worker’s role is usually to support the family by liaising with the different professionals involved in any assessments of the child and to coordinate everything.

Families may, in addition, receive support from an independent supporter from the voluntary or private sector.

Independent workers are intended to help families through the process and would be someone who does not work for the local authority.

Enforcing EHC plans

Existing statutory rights will remain and you will be able to appeal to the SEN and Disability Tribunal in the same way that you currently can.

Annual reviews will continue as they do now.

One key change is that parents will be required to consider mediation if they are considering appealing to the SEN Tribunal.

SEND Mediation & Disagreement Resolution  provides parents and young people with access to an independent disagreement resolution service:      

Once a parent has decided whether or not to undergo mediation, they can take a case to Tribunal but this can only happen after a certificate has been issued by a mediation adviser to confirm that mediation was considered.

Mediation can consider the health and social care aspects of an EHC Plan, as well as education.

The mediation or any discussions on it must be conducted with someone independent from the local authority (information will be available within our local offer (see section 7). Any disputes must still be resolved within the same timescales, even where mediation takes place.

Mediation is not necessary if the appeal to Tribunal is about disability discrimination or about a dispute over whether a child should go to a particular school or placement.

If you move, then the EHC Plan can be transferred and the local authority in your new area will be required to provide the same support as in your previous home area. However, if your EHC Plan requires your child to be placed in a certain school, this can be reviewed, particularly if you now live some distance from the school.

Speech and language therapy

Currently, speech and language therapy can be treated as educational provision even though it is often provided by health services.

Judges have agreed that speech and language therapy is vital for children with SEND. This is legally set out in case law and will continue to apply.

Where a health or social care service has the purpose of education or training a child or young person, it must be regarded as special educational provision, even if it is not provided by an education service.

This means that local authorities must legally ensure this is provided if it is set out in an EHC Plan.

There are no new direct powers against health services under the current proposals. However, Oldham Children’s Services and the Clinical Commissioning Group will work together and jointly commission the services that children with SEND need.

What will happen to an EHC Plan when my child turns 16?

After compulsory school age (the end of the academic year in which they turn 16) the right to make requests and decisions regarding an EHC Plan applies to your child directly but we will continue to involve parents in discussions about the young person’s future.

Parents, or other family members, can continue to support young people in making decisions, or act on their behalf, provided that the young person is happy for them to do so, and it is likely that parents will remain closely involved in the great majority of cases.

We will ensure that young people receive the information, advice and support they need to participate in decisions about their EHC Plan.

We will engage directly with your child, unless we believe that your child does not have the mental capacity to make informed decisions.

Mental Health Capacity – Over 16’

Young people are legally defined in this legislation (but not in social care law) as those who are over compulsory school age – i.e. those who have finished the school year in which they turn 16 years old.

At that point it will be assumed they have mental capacity to make decisions about their education and must be included in all decisions and correspondence in their own right.

If a young person does not have the mental capacity to make a decision on their own, then their parents will automatically be assumed to be making the decision on their behalf unless the Court of Protection has appointed a Deputy.

A deputy is usually a young person’s parent.

The decision as to whether a young person has mental capacity to make a particular decision is something that they and their parents should make in the first instance.

It would be very rare for a school or college or LA not to agree with their assessment of the situation. If they do not agree, the young person and their parents need to get advice.

It would be usual in such an event for an independent medical professional to assess mental capacity.

Mental capacity needs to be considered for every decision that a young person needs to make around their education. It is therefore essential that parents are kept fully informed and involved in all decision making at all times.

It can never be assumed by a school or college that a young person has or has not got mental capacity to make a decision.

Turning a statement into an Education, Health and Care Plan

All children who are eligible for a statement should also be eligible for an EHC Plan.

The only cases where existing children and young people might not change over to an EHC Plan are:

  • Their needs have significantly changed.
  • Your child is no longer in education or training before the planned changeover. 

No new statements can be issued after 1st September 2014 (unless your child was already being assessed for one immediately before that date). All statements will be changed over to an EHC Plan by April 2018.

Oldham's Local Transition Plan will set out how we will transfer young people who receive support as a result of a LDA and children and young people with statements to EHC Plans by 1st April 2018.

Parents and young people will be contacted by us prior to this changeover.

We expect children and young people to move over at key transition points.

EHC plan key transition points.

Stage your child is at

What should happen

Child is transferring from early years setting to school, i.e. going into reception year (including staying in the same institution) from September 2015 Your child will transfer to the new arrangements (i.e. an EHC Plan) before he/she moves to the school
Child is transferring from infants to juniors from September 2015 Your child will transfer to the new arrangements (i.e. an EHC Plan) before he/she moves to the school
Child is transferring from primary to middle school Your child will transfer to the new arrangements (i.e. an EHC Plan) before he/she moves to the school
Young person is in Year 11 from 01/09/2014 onwards and moving to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship He/she will transfer to the new arrangements before the move into Year 12, wherever he/she will be education
Young person is in Year 11 from 01/09/2014 onwards and staying in school Expected to transfer to the new arrangements
Child is transferring from primary to secondary school in September 2015 We will consider whether to transfer children in Year 6 but will take into account the families’ wishes

Child is transferring from primary to secondary school from September 2016 onwards

Will be transferred to the new arrangements before the move to secondary school
Child is transferring from middle to secondary school from September 2016 onwards Will be transferred to the new arrangements before the move to secondary school
Child is in Year 9 in the academic year 2014-2015 Expected to transfer to new arrangements in Year 9
Child is in Year 9 from September 2015 Will be transferred to new arrangements in Year 9

Transition

Oldham Council will carry out a transfer review for each child/young person being moved. This will take the place of an annual review and will involve an assessment of your child’s needs under the new framework.

We will avoid asking for information that we already have. The transfer review process may take up to 14 weeks and will conclude when you have been issued with a final EHC Plan to replace the existing statement.

In cases where the assessment or re-assessment for a statement is in progress on 1st September 2014 then it will continue under the arrangements provided for by the Education Act 1996.

We may contact parents to discuss whether the assessment might be treated as an EHC needs assessment. This would ensure children and young people benefit from the new system as soon as possible, and help reduce the burden on families and ourselves of needing to conduct transfer reviews for these children and young people later.

You can ask us to carry out a transfer review. We may agree to move your child to an EHC Plan sooner dependent on circumstances.

If your child’s needs have changed, then you still have the right to request a reassessment of their needs and we will consider whether a transfer review is appropriate at this stage.

If a transfer review is not carried out we can choose to carry out a reassessment with reference to the existing SEN framework around statements.

Even if we do not transfer your child’s statement to an EHC Plan, we will still follow the existing SEN framework. Existing rights and protections will remain in place until your child moves to the new system.

Turning a Learning Difficulty Assessment into an Education, Health and Care Plan

Turning a Learning Difficulty Assessment into an Education, Health and Care Plan follows a similar process to turning a statement into an Education, Health and Care Plan.

All LDAs will be transferred by 1 September 2016 if requested by the young person.

Contact

If you have any questions about submitting a request for assessment please contact the Access Service: