Please note that all guidance in relation to education is based on laws and guidelines in relation to England. If you live in Wales, N. Ireland of Scotland please find the relevant Sen Code of Practice in my blogroll on the RHS of the page.
Once an LA has agreed to carry out a (Education Health and Care) EHC assessment the process should involve the gathering together of information from the child, the child’s parents and relevant professionals across education, health and social services. The purpose of which is to determine if the LA feel that an EHCP needs to be put into place or not. The assessment is not just for the purposes of education but is also to determine which services from health and social services may need to be supplied if those services teach the child. What happens during an EHC Assessment and Health and Care Provision
Professionals who must be involved in the assessment
Under SEN Regulation 6 (1) an LA must as a minimum seek information and advice on a child or young person’s needs, the provision to meet those needs and outcomes expected to be achieved from the following:
(a) the child’s parent or the young person;
(b) educational advice (usually from head teacher or principal of post-16 institution);
(c) medical advice and information from a health care professional;
(d) psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist;
(e) advice and information in relation to social care;
(f) advice and information from any other person the local authority thinks is appropriate;
(g) where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living; and
(h) advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.
Please Note there are some caveats when this advice does not need to be sought and so please fully read all of the information in this link
Under Regulation 6 (1) (h), a parent or young person can ask the Local Authority to seek advice from anyone within education, health or social care and as long as it is a reasonable request the LA must do so. This can include a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or from CAMHS (child, adolescent, mental health services). Once requested the health authority has 6 weeks to respond. A request will be reasonable if a child/young person has been identified as needing an assessment already – such as where they are on a waiting list – or where the has school/college has said it may be needed.
Therefore if you are about to begin an EHC assessment ensure that you take advantage of point 6(1)(h) in order to ensure that the finalised EHCP contains as much provision and support for your child as possible. Professional input that you may reasonably request could be as follows.
- Occupational therapy – PDA is an Autism Spectrum Condition and many children with ASC/PDA do experience difficulties with sensory processing which can be helped by an Occupational therapist.
- Speech and Language therapist – PDA is an Autism Spectrum Condition and therefore will have difficulties with social communication and interaction which could be helped by a speech and language therapist.
- You could request that your LA commission the services of professionals who are experienced within the field of complex autism presentations and PDA. Especially if local services do not have the necessary experience of this condition to accurately reflect your child’s complex needs for the purposes of an EHCP. Services that you may suggest could be Autism Associates or Complex autism, interactive approaches and emotional well being
If the LA refuse your request for the inclusion of your specified professional you may be able to challenge this decision. You may decide to try mediation or if you do not want to go to mediation or if mediation has already been tried and failed you may decide to appeal to the SEND Tribunal
Draft EHC Plans
If, following their assessment, the LA decide to issue your child with an EHCP you will be sent a draft plan. Along with the draft EHC plan an LA must give notice to the parent or young person that they have 15 days in which to make comments – “representations” – about the EHC Plan, request a meeting with the LA to discuss the draft and their right to request that a particular school or other institution is named in the Plan.
The LA must name the school or other institution that the parent’s have requested in the plan unless they can prove that one of the follow exceptions apply:
- The school or other institution is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educations needs of the child or young person
- The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the provision of the efficient education for others
- The attendance of the child or young person would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources
The LA will then consult with that school/college about being named in the EHC plan. Once named on the EHCP the school / college must admit the child or young person.
Prior to agreeing to the contents of the draft plan ensure that the plan contains all of the legal elements that is should contain by using this checklist by Ipsea. Some of the provision in the plan may be funded by a Personal Budget.
Finalising the Plan
The LA will then finalise the plan EHCplans and enforcement the plan should provide a complete package of support for your child to include.
- The child’s special needs
- What type of provision the child will need
- Outcomes for the future
- A suitable educational placement
- Any health and social care needs that provide teaching / education for the child
The process of the assessment from the beginning to the finalised plan should take no longer than a maximum of 18 weeks Timeframe for an EHC assessment
What if the LA refuse to issue an EHCP ?
If the LA decide not to issue an EHCP you can challenge this decision. You may decide to try mediation or if you do not want to go to mediation or if mediation has already been tried and failed you may decide to appeal to the SEND Tribunal
What if I don’t agree with the contents of the EHCP or with the placement that has been named?
- the description of a child or young person’s special educational needs;
- the special educational provision specified in the EHC plan; and/or
- the name/type of school or college in the EHC plan or the fact that no school/college is named.
You can challenge the above aspects of your child’s EHCP if you are unhappy with them. You may decide to try mediation or if you do not want to go to mediation or if mediation has already been tried and failed you may decide to appeal to the SEND Tribunal
What if I don’t agree with the social care needs section or social care provision specified in the EHC plan?
Challenges of the social care needs section or social care provision specified in the EHC plan will need to be made using the LA’s internal complaints procedure. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint then you may be able to complain to your Local Government Ombudsman
Challenges to the health care needs or provision specified in the EHC plan will need to be made using the complaints procedure of the local Clinical Commissioning Group responsible for the health care provision in the plan. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your complaint then you may be able to complain to Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman
What if the finalised plan has taken longer than 18 weeks to conduct the review plus 2 weeks notice period?
In the first instance make a complaint to your local authority, if you are not satisfied with their response you can complain to the local government ombudsman. Making a complaint
In some cases you may be able to take your local authority to Judicial Review but you would need to appoint a solicitor to do this for you.
If you have the available finances or you are eligible for legal aid it may be beneficial to appoint a specialised SEN solicitor to guide you through the process as soon as you begin experiencing difficulties.
The following solicitors specialise in SEN but you would need to contact them directly in order to ensure if they accept legal aid. Also I cannot guarantee the quality of these services.
For more advice on SEN please visit IPSEA, Send code of practice, SEN SOS and National Autistic Society – Helpline – educational rights
For advice on suitable strategies within education please visit Videos 6, 7, 8 and 9 by Neville Starnes, Education and handling strategies by Phil Christie, National Autistic Society – PDA Educational Strategies and Education booklet by Positive PDA