An EHC plan can be issued to a child or young person between the ages of 0 and 25 years and is the document which replaces Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments. (Although the plan can include health or social care needs, your child will not get a plan if they only have health or social care needs that do not affect their education.) It sets out the education, health and care services that the child or young person should receive and should also clearly explain the extra help that will be given to meet the needs and goals of the young person.
An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through a Local Authority EHC needs assessment. The 2014 SEND Code of Practice states that schools should start the EHCP process, and wherever possible do it with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person concerned. However, the EHCP can also be applied for by the person’s parents, or the young person themselves if they are aged between 16 and 25. The assessment is a multidisciplinary investigation, including advice from relevant professionals in the education, health and social care sectors, to try to discover the child or young person’s needs as well as what provisions need to be made to address those needs.
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. Appeals can also be made if the Local Authority decides not to carry out an assessment or the parent/young person is unhappy with the contents of Sections B, F or I of the EHC Plan.
If the decision is to issue an EHC plan, the LA will then draw up a draft EHC plan for the parents or young person to consider.
The EHCP has to be based on plans drawn up in chapter 9 of the SEND Code of Practice. So, although EHCP details may vary slightly from one Local Authority to another, all will contain at least the following sections:
The plan should be written so that everyone can understand it. It should be clear and detailed about the amount and type of support the person will get, what reasonable adjustments are involved and how this support will help the child/young person. It should also take into account the person’s long-term goals and prospects.
The plan must be reviewed at least once a year. This is a chance for everyone involved to check on the progress which has been made and to consider whether or not it would be appropriate to revise the plan. At the end of the review the local authority may make changes to the plan, end it or leave it unchanged.
A local authority can only end an EHC Plan if (A) it decides that the child/young person no longer needs the support the EHCP laid out. If the objectives of the plan are realistic but haven’t been fully achieved yet, the plan should continue; or (B) the authority is no longer responsible for the child or young person (e.g., moving to a new area, taking up paid employment and leaving the education system).