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How to Secure an Appropriate EHCP
- AuthorNathan Davies
When a Local Authority agrees to assess your child it can often feel like the ultimate goal of obtaining further support for them has been achieved; however this is just the start of the process. Often in practice, we find that Local Authorities fail to obtain appropriate advice from such professionals as the local Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy Services. This advice is imperative in cases where your child displays these difficulties. Reports obtained as part of the statutory assessment process are crucial in ensuring that an appropriately informed and drafted Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is produced following the conclusion of the assessment.
Top tips for the statutory assessment process
It is useful to:
- Make sure that the Authority obtains Occupational Therapy advice for a child with physical difficulties to include dyspraxia;
- Make sure that a sensory assessment is conducted for a child with sensory difficulties (a sensory integration trained Occupational Therapist can do this);
- Make sure that a speech and language assessment is conducted if your child has a receptive or expressive language difficulty;
- If your child has social skills difficulties ask for the involvement of a speech and language therapist to assess in this area;
- In some cases, be present during the Educational Psychology assessment;
- Ensure that a visual expert has assessed if your child has specific visual processing difficulties.
Section B of an EHCP
Section B of the EHCP details the description of your child’s needs, therefore it is important that as much information as possible is compiled during the assessment process. By not contacting the relevant agencies, the Local Authority’s assessment cannot be said to be complete or, in many cases, lawful. Rather than challenging them after the assessment process has ended (as this can often cause considerable delay) it is always helpful to ensure that the Authority is collecting this information during the allotted timescale. Without this information, it is likely that the extent of your child’s difficulties will not be fully detailed within the draft EHCP.
This will unfortunately have a prejudicial impact upon the provision identified as being suitable for your child in Section F of the EHCP. This is one of the most crucial aspects of the EHCP so if the description of your child’s difficulties is not accurate, then it is highly likely that the provision outlined in the Plan will not be sufficient to meet their needs.
Section F of an EHCP
When the draft plan is received, we often find that Local Authorities will employ vague language in Section F which is not legally appropriate. The use of such phrases as ‘opportunities for’ and ‘access to’ should be rejected as they do not guarantee that provision for your child; legally specific language is essential in any EHCP for your child. So for example it needs to be set out within the document stating:
- How much time will be allocated for specific interventions;
- Who will provide the support;
- Who will monitor the effectiveness of the intervention and how often it will be monitored;
- Whether direct SALT or OT is needed and if so how much intervention will be provided;
- How many hours of generic teaching assistant support will be provided (in a mainstream school if appropriate). The wording should not state that the child will have ‘access to’ such intervention.
Before a Plan is finalised by the Authority, it is always recommended that representations be made about its contents, especially when there is not an accurate picture of your child’s needs or provision to meet those needs documented therein. These must be made to the Authority within 15 days of the date of the draft Plan being received.
There is a 20 week process in total from the start of the assessment to the issuing of the EHCP. We often find that Local Authorities may unfortunately not adhere to this timescale. If a disagreement between you and the Authority still exists following a Final EHCP being issued, then you have the right to pursue an appeal to the SEN Tribunal. If you are at this stage in the process and would like to speak with our specialist team, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02920 291704 or alternatively via email on firstname.lastname@example.org