SEN Consultancy was founded in 2012 by Miranda Cooper who had spent 15 years teaching in various SEN settings and had experienced first-hand, the very best practices within education. However, Miranda had personally experienced the complications of applying for an EHCP for her own child and in her role, she soon discovered that other parents were facing significant difficulties accessing support. Therefore in 2014, alongside her work with schools, Miranda began to support and empower parents to access the help available so that their children could realise their full learning potential.
Applying for an Educational Health Care Plan, EHCP (Part 2)… What you need to know:
Top tips – Know your truths from the myths:
- You may apply for a personal budget to pay for a specialist maths teacher and the local authority must consider your request.
- Provision in Section F of an EHCP needs to be specific regarding provision. Just writing a number of teaching assistant hours as a block in Section F is not lawful.
- Private reports may be used and included in writing an EHCP including stipulating provision e.g. from a private educational psychologist or dyscalculia Level 7 assessor or dyscalculia specialist teacher.
- A school being full is not a reason not to be named in Section I of an EHCP.
- If you had to apply to the tribunal to ask for an assessment the local authority’s clock does not re-start at the beginning to issue an EHCP.
Once you are told that the local authority will assess it’s important that your child is seen by the correct professionals and a range of professionals to make sure all special educational needs are identified. Not known to services, or ‘does not meet our criteria’, are not legal reasons for not carrying out an assessment. A local authority cannot meet their legal obligation when issuing an EHCP if not all needs, and provisions have been identified. The local authority must go back to these professionals to inform them that they need to carry out the assessments or employ a private assessor to assess.
An educational psychologist can diagnose dyscalculia if they believe that a child/young person meets the criteria when they carry out a range of tests. An educational psychologist employed by the local authority or a private educational psychologist is regulated by the same governing body and therefore can both diagnose dyscalculia. Please note that a common term used is ‘specific learning disorder in mathematics’. This is because dyscalculia is in a sub-heading of specific learning disorders which also covers dyslexia in DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition). You must tell the educational psychologist that you think your child has dyscalculia before they start any tests and to ask them if they have experience of dyscalculia. If the educational psychologist does not have much experience in this field, then please ask for an additional assessment from a specialist dyscalculia maths teacher or Level 7 dyscalculia assessor to contribute to provision and outcomes.
In all reports, you need the provision specifically quantified as this will be used to write section F of your EHCP. If you don’t like how things are written in the reports, you have a right to ask for them to be changed. If they are not specified go back to the professional and the local authority to request this is done. The local authority is responsible for this as without it they are unable to fulfil their legal duty of issuing a plan containing the required special educational provision.
All local authorities use a different template for their EHCP. The main things you need to know are that the only 3 sections which are legally binding are: section B (need), F (provision) and I (name of school or college). You may go to the tribunal to change these sections if you are not happy with their contents.
When you get your EHCP draft, you can change it. You have 15 days to do this once you have received it via the post. Hold onto the envelope just in case there has been a delay between the dated letter and when it was sent. It’s worth dropping the local authority a quick email telling them the day it was received. Local authorities are not good at keeping to their timelines, but they expect schools and parents to keep to theirs.
First, check that the local authority has sent you a copy of all the reports written in section K with the draft. If not, tell them they haven’t and ask for them to be sent immediately.
Second, check that all the reports are included in the plan.
Section K lists all the reports which were used to write the plan and can include reports that you either got yourself during the assessment process or beforehand.
Third, check the plan. If you remove anything highlight it in bold and strike it through and if you add anything highlight in bold.
Section A – All about me, maybe as personal as you like and should have your child’s strengths in it.
Section B – Needs, ALL needs need to be included and not strengths. Double-check that the local authority has included all needs from the reports. Some have a habit of missing a few. This section dictates what goes into section F, provision. For every need, there must be a provision.
Sections C & G – health needs but must be related to special educational need. Please note that therapies i.e. speech and language or occupational need to be written into section F as they are related to education. If they are not in section F, then the local authority is not responsible to make sure they happen.
Sections D & H – Social care, if related to special educational needs
Section E – Outcomes, the areas you are going to be working on short and long term. It is the result of the provision. They need to be measurable. How do you know they have been achieved? They need to be more detailed than most people realise. Some local authorities will tell you that they just write generic ones which a school/college may then break down later. This is incorrect.
Section F – Provision, the provision is related to the needs in section B. It must be extremely specific and is unfortunately not in most cases. You need to first check that the local authority has included all provision from the reports into the plan. Remove any unlawful wording for example: access to, ongoing, regular, benefit from, just to name a few. That it is quantified – who is monitoring the provision, how often will it happen, how will it happen, when will it happen, level of training of the person and the person responsible for carrying out the provision (i.e. a teaching assistant, high-level teaching assistant, teacher, therapist, specialist dyscalculia teacher), additional time needed for training, meetings, planning/preparation, and resources being made. Any support from therapists needs to be included in this section. Some local authorities like to add a number of teaching assistants hours or level/band of funding to cover the provision. However, the local authority is legally responsible for all provision which includes materials and therapists. They must provide enough funding to carry out everything within this section. If not, the school or college needs to go back to the local authority and remind them of their legal duties. If you are asking for a personal budget it needs to be written into this section.
Section I – Education provision, this will be blank when you get your draft. If your child is in education other than at school (EOTAS) this will be left blank once the plan is finalised. Please note there is a difference between EOTAS and elective home education (EHE). If you have EOTAS the local authority is still responsible for the plan. However, if you have chosen elective home education you are responsible for the plan including its funding. When naming a school, it does not need to be your local school or in your local authority and a school being full is not a lawful reason not to be named. The only reasons a school may give not to be named are (The Children and Family Act 2014, Section 39(4)):
(a) the school or other institution requested is unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or special educational needs of the child or young person concerned, or
(b) the attendance of the child or young person at the requested school or other institution would be incompatible with—
(i) the provision of efficient education for others, or
(ii) the efficient use of resources.
Section K – contains a list of all the reports used to write the EHCP.
Unfortunately, it is often a fight to make sure that a local authority carries out their legal duties. Sometimes you have to complain to the heads within a local authority, threaten judicial reviews and complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. Follow every phone call/conversation with an email about what was discussed. Take someone with you to meetings to either write notes or just to confirm that you are processing what is being discussed. A room full of professionals can be stressful and intimidating. The person does not need to be a professional but in some circumstances It should be. Make your own notes at meetings. You are permitted to record a meeting and do not need permission if you are only using it for your personal use i.e. making notes afterwards.
This process was originally changed in 2014 to be parent and child friendly with them at the centre. Unfortunately, it’s not; so, empower yourself with as much knowledge as possible and always ask for help.