A local authority may decide to issue an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) following an EHC needs assessment. An EHCP specifies:
- The child’s or young person’s special educational needs
- The outcomes sought for him or her
- The special educational provision required by him or her
- Any health care provision reasonably required
- Any social care provision reasonably required
An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is a detailed look at the special educational needs of a child or young person and the support he or she may need to make progress in education or training. It is a legal process carried out by a local authority (LA) which should take a maximum of 20 weeks to complete.
The law says:
A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan (SEND Code of Practice 9.3)
Who can request an assessment?
- A young person aged 16 to 25.
- A person acting on behalf of a school or setting –these are known as ‘responsible body requests’ and should only be done after discussion with the family
The local authority must decide whether or not to proceed with an EHC needs assessment and must inform you of their decision within a maximum of six weeks from receiving a request. If the decision is not to assess the local authority must give you the reason for the decision and your rights to appeal the decision.
Who contributes towards an assessment?
- The child or young person
- The setting or school
- Professionals working with the child or young person
- Any other person who the family feel can provide positive contribution
The local authority requests information as part of the EHC needs assessment process and those supplying the information must respond in a timely manner and within a maximum of 6 weeks from the date of the request.
Decisions after an EHC needs assessment:
If the local authority decides, following an EHC needs assessment, not to issue an EHC plan, it must inform you within a maximum of 16 weeks from the original request for the assessment. Otherwise, the local authority issues a draft EHCP.
You will be given 15 days to:
- Approve the draft EHCP
- Request a particular school or setting
- Request a personal budget if you would like one
A follow up meeting will be arranged with you, the local authority, school/setting and other professionals to discuss the draft EHCP.
The local authority must consult with your preferred choice of school/setting before naming it in the EHCP. The school/setting has 15 days to respond. The local authority may consult with other schools/settings.
Where there are exceptional circumstances, it may not be reasonable to expect local authorities and other partners to comply with the time limits the local authority must inform you of any reasons for delay.
In Wolverhampton, if the local authority refuses to issue an EHCP you will receive a Summary of Need. This is not a legal document but will still identify and summarise the child or young person’s needs.
For more information refer to our EHCP Booklet guide.
A personal budget is money set aside to fund support as part of an Education, Health and Care Plan for a child or young person with special educational needs. The management of these funds can be arranged by the young person themselves, their parents, the local authority, school or college. On occasion a third party will manage the budget on their behalf. An individual can have one or a mixture of these arrangements.
A personal budget can be used only on the support set out in their EHCP. This can include funding for the special educational, health and social care support that will help to achieve the outcomes set out in the EHCP. The funding can finance services and support including therapies, specialist equipment, carers, respite placements, health treatments and many more.
Once an EHCP is in place for a child or young person, it is unlikely to remain the same over time. Through time it may become out of date, and he or she may move to a different school or college or even a different area.
The annual review is the statutory process of looking at the need, outcomes and provision specified in an EHCP. This is to ensure it stays up-to-date and continues to provide the support the child or young person needs.
The review process is an opportunity to celebrate success, review what is working well and what needs to change.
The law says…
"The annual review process, including the notification of the decision, must take place within 12 months of the issue of the final plan or the completion of the previous annual review.” (s44 of Children and Families Act 2014)
“Reviews must be undertaken in partnership with the child and their parent or the young person, and must take account of their views, wishes and feelings…” (Paragraph 9.167 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015)
The annual review process:
Step 1. Who is requested to attend the annual review meeting and contribute?
Usually the school or setting will lead on the review. The person arranging the review meeting must invite and request information from:
- The child’s parents or young person
- A representative of the school/setting
- A local authority SEN officer
- A health service representative
- A local authority social care representative
- Other individuals relevant to the review
Step 2. The meeting:
Must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan, and on what changes might need to be made to the support that is provided to help them achieve those outcomes, or whether changes are needed to the outcomes themselves.
In year 9 and beyond, must consider what provision is required in preparation for adulthood and independent living.
Children, parents and young people should be supported to engage fully in the review meeting.
Step 3. The report:
The school or setting that is leading on the review must prepare a report within two weeks of the meeting and send to everyone who was invited. The contents of the report must include:
- Recommendations such as changes to the EHCP
- Any differences of opinion between those attending the meeting
- Copies of the advice and information gathered for the review
Step 4. The decision:
Following an annual review the local authority can make one of three decisions:
- To maintain the EHC plan
- To amend the EHC plan
- To cease to maintain the EHC plan
The local authority must notify the parents or young person and the person providing the education of its decision within 4 weeks of the annual review meeting.