Education, Health and Care Plans
The majority of children and young people with SEN and disabilities will have their needs met by their local mainstream early years setting, school or college. However, for those with complex needs that cannot be met by the support put in place by their school or college, an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment may be required.
Information on how the system for supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is changing and the new EHC assessment process and plan is available in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice and the SEND Guide for Parents and Carers.
There are also guides for young people produced by the Council for Disabled Children. EHCP Journeys - parent stories and feedback
Who can request an assessment?
Parents/carers, young people over the age of 16, early year’s settings, schools, colleges and any professionals working with a child or young person can request an EHC needs assessment.
How long does the assessment take?
There are statutory timescales for all local authorities. The process from requesting an assessment to issuing an EHC Plan can take up to 20 weeks.
How are requests considered?
All requests for assessment are handled by the Statutory Assessment Team (SAT).
Once a request for an assessment is received by the Statutory Assessment Team the following people will be informed that the Local Authority is considering whether to undertake the assessment. The Local Authority will request that any additional information is submitted:
- Parent(s) or carer(s)
- Young person over the age of 16
- Manager of EY setting
- The Headteacher (or equivalent) of the education setting or principal of the FE college/ institution
- SEND Service (0-25 years)
- The Health Service
- Social Care Team responsible for services for C/YP with Disabilities
By week 6 a decision whether to carry out an EHC needs assessment will be made. This decision will be made by the Local Authority following discussion with the EHC needs assessment panel who act as an advisory body.
If an assessment is agreed
The Statutory Assessment Team will notify the parents or young person and other involved professionals, and request advice and further information.
If an assessment is not agreed
The Statutory Assessment Team will notify the parents or young person, giving them the reason for the Local Authority’s decision. If you disagree with the decision you have the right to appeal via tribunal or contact SENDIASS within 2 months from the date of the LA's decision or one month from receiving a mediation certificate, whichever is the later date. You must contact the mediator adviser within 2 months of the LA decision.
Independent support for EHCP assessments
Commissioning independent specialists
Parent carers are free to commission independent specialists to support an assessment. This is in line with the SEND Code of Practice. We will accept and consider advice from any qualified professional, that supports the holistic and comprehensive assessment, or review, of SEND needs for an EHCP.
Parent carers are responsible for the full cost of independent specialists. We will only fund independent reports or assessments where we provided written agreement to do so before the work started.
If an assessment is not agreed
The Statutory Assessment Team will notify the parents or young person, giving them the reason for the Local Authority’s decision.
If an assessment is agreed
The Statutory Assessment Team will notify the parents or young person and other involved professionals. Your case will be allocated to a Statutory Assessment Casework Officer who will support you and your child through the Assessment Process. You will also be asked for more information and your views about your child's needs. The Statutory Assessment Team (SAT) will also gather views, information and advice from your child's school or college and people who have been working and supporting them, including an Educational Psychologist. The Local Authority allows 6 weeks to receive this advice.
Once the additional advice is received a Post Assessment Meeting may be held. This is led by the Statutory Assessment casework officer and will usually be held at the school or setting the child attends, with advice givers and parents/carers. This meeting will consider the completed assessments, the view of you and your child, your child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN), desired outcomes, and the provision required to meet the identified needs.
By week 16 the Local Authority will review the information gathered through the assessment process and make a decision on whether an EHC Plan is required or not. If an EHC Plan is agreed by the Local Authority, a Proposed Plan is issued to parents/carers and school/setting.
An EHC Needs Assessment will not always lead to an EHC Plan. In some cases, the evidence collected during the process will lead to the judgement that the child/young person does not require an EHC Plan and that his/her needs can be met from the resources that are available and set out in the school and Local Authority’s Local Offer, and therefore do not require provision to be made in accordance with an EHC Plan. The information gathered during the assessment should be used to indicate ways in which the school, college or other provider can meet the child or young person's needs without an EHC plan.
The Education Health and Care Plan
Once the Proposed EHC Plan has been issued to Parents/Carers and the school/setting there will be 15 days to send any requested changes or queries in relation to the EHC Plan to the Statutory Assessment casework officer. Parents/carers and young person will also be asked to express their preference for an educational setting and also have the opportunity to request a personal budget.
The Proposed EHC Plan and any parental views or requests will be considered by the Local Authority. At this point the Local Authority will also consider the resources required to deliver the provision as outlined in the EHC Plan.
By week 20 the EHC Plan will be finalised and issued to Parents/carers/young person and School/setting. The final EHCP will name the Educational Setting/Type and the agreed resources.
Throughout the process the Statutory Assessment Casework Officer will keep parents/carers updated on the progress of the EHC Plan and any exceptional circumstances that may result in delays.
Delivering and Reviewing EHCPs
Delivering and Reviewing EHCPs
Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans must be a reviewed at least once a year (every 12 months). The timescales for review are dependent on the circumstances of each child/young person. However, every child/young person's EHC Plan must be reviewed at least annually, beginning within 12 months of the date the EHC Plan was finalised and then within 12 months of any previous review.
The assess, plan, do, review (APDR) approach should continue even after an EHCP has been written, this is to ensure that your child continues to make progress.
Your child or young person’s setting or school should invite you to meet with them three times a year to review the progress your child or young person is making. One of these meetings will be the annual review.
For children and young people aged 5 and over, EHCPs must be a reviewed at least once a year (every 12 months) beginning within 12 months of the date the EHC Plan was finalised and then within 12 months of any previous review.
For children under 5, their EHCPs must be a reviewed at least every 6 months – beginning within 6 months of the date the EHC Plan was finalised and then within 6 months of any previous review (up until they turn 5).
The above are minimum requirements and there may be a need for a more regular reviews depending on the circumstances; for example, if there is a significant change to their Special Educational Needs, concerns for placement and/or provision.
Normally annual reviews are organised by your child’s educational setting. Parents and the child/young person are always invited to the meeting, alongside professionals who know the child/young person. The invitees must be given at least two weeks’ notice of the date of the meeting and be provided with all the information that will be discussed at the meeting (there are some situations where the meeting is called urgently and this may not be possible)
You and your child will be supported to take part in the review and will be encouraged to talk about how you feel the year has gone. Your child will be asked to attend the review in person, but they may choose not to, and they should then be supported by a member of staff before the meeting, to ensure that their views have been gathered and remain central to the discussions.
The review will focus on:
- The progress your child is making towards the outcomes identified in their EHC Plan and their interests and aspirations, including whether any new needs or outcomes have arisen.
- Reviewing the provision detailed within their EHC Plan to ensure it is still appropriate and supporting your child in working towards achieving their outcomes
- Considering whether there are any changes required to the EHC Plan, including the outcomes, provision, educational setting, in light of the progress and/or changes in circumstances during the previous year. This could also include a discussion about the ongoing need for an EHC Plan.
- At the meeting, interim targets for the coming year should also be agreed.
After the meeting a report of the discussions will be prepared by the chair (usually the SENCo) and circulated to everyone who attended or provided information. This will be submitted to the Local Authority within 2 weeks. The Local Authority will review the report alongside your child’s EHC Plan. The Local Authority must let you know their decision within four weeks of the meeting.
The decision may be to:
- Keep the EHCP as it is (no changes)
- amend the EHC plan
- cease the EHC plan if it is felt that it is no longer necessary for it to be in place
In some cases, there may be a need for further consideration from the Local Authority Panel before a decision can be made on whether to keep the EHCP as it is, amend the EHCP or cease the EHCP.
In the meantime, if you are unhappy with any decision, you can discuss this with your SEN Casework Officer. You can also seek independent and impartial advice from Cambridgeshire’s SEND Information, Advice and Support Service.