Community Care and Education Law solicitors answer frequently asked questions about Special Educational Needs and Education, Health and Care Plans.
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) to replace Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN).
A child or young person must be assessed to have SEN in order to obtain an EHCP. The plan should also cover their health and social care needs.
An Education, Health and Care assessment is required to provide the evidence necessary to inform the Local Authority’s decision whether to offer an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or not.
A child or young person has Special Educational Needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty which means they find it harder to learn than the majority of children or young people, similar in age, so they require special educational provision.
A child or young person also has SEN if they have a disability which stops them from making use of facilities usually provided to children of the same age, in mainstream schools or post-16 institutions. Special educational provision must also be made for them.
Special educational provision means educational or training provision which is more than, or different from, the support usually given to other children or young people, of the same age, in mainstream schools or post-16 institutions.
Health or social care provision which ‘educates or trains’ a child or young person is also considered special educational provision.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, sometimes referred to as SENDIST or the FTT (First Tier Tribunal), is the court which deals with appeals against Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
The Tribunal is made up of a panel of usually 2 or 3 people including a judge and an education expert.
If you are unhappy with your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and wish to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, you should first consider entering into mediation with the Local Authority (LA). Mediation is the process where you meet with representatives of the LA to try to resolve your concerns without the need for a Tribunal. There will be an independent mediator present to assist. The LA must pay for the costs of mediation.
If the appeal is only about the school named in section I and there are no other changes being appealed, then you do not have to go to mediation.
If you do not want to go to mediation you must still request a mediation certificate from the mediation service before you can proceed to a Tribunal appeal.
You must request mediation within 2 months of the LA’s decision letter. If you request mediation but the LA do not organise it within 30 days of your request, you can obtain a mediation certificate and proceed to a Tribunal appeal.
You must lodge an appeal within 2 months of the date of the LA’s decision letter, or within 1 month of obtaining a mediation certificate.
Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) are maintained by the Local Authority (LA) who have the legal duty to ensure that the special educational provision outlined in the plan is delivered, and a duty to maintain the plan. The LA must review the EHCP at least annually.
The Annual Review is usually hosted by the school and will be an opportunity to consider what progress your child has made in terms of meeting the outcomes set out in the plan, setting new outcomes if necessary.
It is also an opportunity to consider if the EHCP still accurately reflects your child’s needs and the provision they require.
If you or your family require specialist advice about health and care needs for disabled children under 25, please contact Sara today on 01273 609911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how our Community Care and Education Law team can help.