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What is an EHCP/ EHC?
- AuthorAndrew Barrowclough
If you are a parent with a child who has special educational needs, then you may be aware of the biggest reform to child welfare legislation in England in 20 years. We are of course talking about the Children and Families Act 2014 that came into force on September 1st 2014. This legislation created EHCPs in England (Education, Health and Social Care Plans).
This new legislation made way for a host of changes in the way that special educational needs law is now governed. Our website sets out extensively the new law and the transition process [here] but hopefully this blog will assist in setting out practical advice for parents.
The aim of the new legislation is to create a better system for children with special educational needs and disabilities. It is only applicable in England however and this therefore means that the Welsh and English education law systems are now entirely split for the first time in history.
The Act placed an emphasis on the aspirations and goals of children and young adults in the transition through to adulthood. The problem with this is that focusing on the child is a good objective but it often results in vague plans and provision being put in place. The wording of assessment reports and the EHCP itself is also often watered down to be child friendly. This means the wording is not legally specific.
In addition the main purpose of creating the new system was to bring together social services, health and education so a child can be assessed and supported collaboratively. Unfortunately in practice trying to get these agencies to sit in the same room remains a major challenge.
Requesting an EHC Assessment
A statutory assessment request is made directly to Local Authority to carry out an assessment. A request can be made by anyone at your child’s school, a doctor, health visitor or nursery worker. Most importantly you can request the assessment if you consider your child is struggling in school and making poor progress. The legal definition is whether the progress is ‘not expected’ and takes into account their intelligence. It is often a common sense test and as parents you know your child better than anyone. The best advice we can give is to trust your instincts.
How do I maximise my chances of getting a statutory assessment?
At HCB solicitors our specialist education law solicitors can help you to make the statutory assessment request to increase your chances of getting the assessment agreed. It also always helps if you can work with your child’s school and they support your request by admitting that despite the support put in place your child’s progress has been minimal.
There are also a number of independent experts operating throughout the UK who can assess your child and that evidence can be presented to the Local Authority with the initial request. Parents are often told that private assessments are not valid but that is not true. Private/ independent experts are just as valid as LEA experts- in some respects more so as they are not employed by the very body that is responsible for funding the assessment and provision.
The local authority then has six weeks to determine whether or not to assess your child from the date of the request. If they refuse to assess then your route is to appeal to the SEN Tribunal against that decision our expert education lawyers can assist you preparing that appeal. Be aware however that you only have a 2 month window to appeal to the tribunal.
At HCB we have also worked hard towards ensuring our website provides as much information as possible to assist you with any queries you may have. If you want specific advice then please feel free to call us on 02920 291 704.