As more of my clients are experiencing Emotional Based School Avoidance (EBSA) I have added this guide to the EHCP process. This is correct as of 2023 – however please ensure you confirm this with your local authority guidelines.
Week 1-6: Decision to assess
– Parent or school requests an EHC Needs Assessment to the LA, stating reasons for their child’s special educational needs and the need for additional support. Ensure there is enough information/evidence to justify an assessment submitted at this point. A diagnosis alone is often not enough as this may be supported within the school’s resources. Please note a LA can reject the application at this point – this is the first hurdle.
– The local authority processes the application and seeks written consent to share information with involved bodies.
Week 6-12: Assessment & evidence gathering
– Relevant parties, including parents, the child or young person, school, social care, healthcare representatives, and others, are contacted for information.
– The LA decides whether to issue an EHC Plan by week 12, and if it does, starts drafting the EHCP, sharing the draft with parents and those involved in the assessment.
Week 13-16: Review and consultation
– If the LA decides to issue an EHC Plan, the draft version is sent to parents and others from the assessment, who have 15 days to respond. Make sure you read this carefully and respond with comments. Ensure this reflects your child fully and that all interventions are quantifiable. For example, phrases like ‘benefit from’, ‘access to’, ‘as required’, or ‘regular’ are all vague and up for interpretation as to how many hours will be offered. Clarity like ‘1 hour per day’ or ‘5 hours per week’ makes schools more accountable. Do not assume that a school would just do something anyway.
– The LA consults with the specified school, and the school responds within 15 days. The LA can refuse to specify the preferred school, but the decision must be based on legal principles. At this point, the placement is named. Whilst the parent/child is encouraged to express a preference, such as a specialist setting rather than mainstream, the decision is usually based on whether a mainstream school can meet needs as set out in the EHCP. This is another reason why you should ensure the EHCP fully reflects your child and their needs.
Week 17-20: Finalizing the EHCP
– Between weeks 17 and 20, the LA issues the final EHCP to parents and the named school.
– The letter accompanying the EHCP outlines the right to appeal if the contents are unsatisfactory and provides information about mediation.
If you do not agree with the final plan, there are a couple of different options available. Mediation – you can choose to use mediation to reach an agreement with the LA. Tribunal – If you wish to go straight to a tribunal, you first need to contact the mediation company for a mediation certificate and complete a SEND35 form.
To go to the tribunal you need to apply within 2 months of the date of the EHCP or 1 month of the date of the mediation certificate.
Annual Reviews and Beyond:
– The EHCP should be reviewed yearly or every six months for children under 5.
– If issues arise before an Annual Review, an early or emergency review can be requested from the LA.
– At any review, changes can be recommended to the LA, including changes to the educational setting, description of needs, or further assessment or advice.
– Any accepted changes result in an amended EHCP, with a right to appeal if there are disagreements.
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