On the 30 April 2020 the DfE announced some temporary changes that have been announced about the way that we support children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans from 1st May 2020. The main points of this guidance are summarised below but the full guidance is available to read.
All other statutory duties are the same as before. Co-production with families remains an important aspect of the way that we work.
We are committed to working in co-production with families wherever possible. With that in mind, I have included some further details of the changes below:
• The council and health services are required to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to provide what is in an EHCP.
• This means that we will consider for every individual child/young person what support should be provided at this time.
• For most children and young people, the support described in their EHCP will be different during the current coronavirus crisis. .
• Your child’s school or educational setting will have contacted you already to carry out a risk assessment with you. We will use this information to decide what support should be provided. We will review this if the situation changes.
• It may be necessary for professionals to carry out assessments for EHCPs in different ways, due to the need for social distancing. There may also be occasions where there are delays to assessments being completed due to the current coronavirus crisis.
• If your child’s assessment is delayed, we will keep you informed.
• Even when there is a delay, we will ensure the assessment is completed as soon as it is possible to do so.
3. Annual Reviews
• Educational settings are making every effort to continue to hold annual reviews remotely for children with EHC Plans; however some may need to postpone annual review meetings due to take place in the summer term.
We will continue to work closely in partnership with families to ensure that children and young people receive the support they need in these unusual times. If you are struggling to support your child or young person at home, please discuss this with your child or young person’s SENCo in the first instance. If you need any more information or advice, please contact us on SENdept@york.gov.uk or send a message via the local offer website.
Whilst we are adhering to the social distancing requirements, there will be some changes to how decisions are made within City of York Council.
The SEN designated Officers will still meet to have a weekly discussion with the SEN Manager as part of their case work management and the majority of decisions, including requests for Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, and issuing an Education, Health and Care Plan at the end of an assessment, will be made through this process. When it is required, a virtual EHC Panel will be held fortnightly to seek further information and/or views from appropriate Education, Health and Care professionals.
Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments
City of York Council is following the most recent guidance from the DfE regarding the current Covid-19 pandemic. This has meant some changes to the way we are working.
We will continue to prioritise completing EHC Needs Assessments and producing EHC plans in a timely manner, particularly for children and young people who are starting or moving school in September 2020.
Professionals will continue to provide information and advice towards EHC needs assessment. They will do this using their knowledge of the children or young person and any information that is already available, and may contact you by telephone. They may also speak with other professionals, including nursery or school staff, about your children or young persons. Reports will continue to be sent to the SEN Team to SENdept@york.gov.uk.
Please be mindful that our Education, Health and Social Care partners who are ordinarily expected to contribute to EHC needs assessments are currently under significant pressure to manage the demand on the local authority and health bodies to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. In view of this we have been advised that the Department for Education has amended regulations on the timescales for the EHC needs assessment process where this is appropriate because of Covid-19.
Our aim is to maintain ‘business as usual’ wherever possible; however, the unprecedented situation nationally around Covid-19 may have an impact on our ability to complete assessments within the required timescales. City of York local authority will ensure we use all reasonable endeavours to progress any agreed assessments and seek the required information and advice with a view to minimising the impact on this process. Our aim is to complete assessments within 20 weeks wherever possible.
Co-production of EHC Plans
As it is not possible to hold face to face meetings until further notice, Co-ordinated Assessment meetings (CAMs) will not take place, however this will not delay the assessment.
The SEN Designated Officer responsible for overseeing the assessment will ensure that they gather the views of the child or young person and their parent or carer though a phone call. This information, together with the information and advice provided by professionals, will be used to produce a plan for consideration by SEN Managers. If it is agreed that an EHC plan is required, a draft plan will be issued to parents, school and professionals. There will be opportunities for parents and professionals to discuss the contents of the plan, any queries they may have and any suggested amendments, with the SEN Designated Officer via telephone or email.
We will consider all amendments requested as we ordinarily would. Agreed amendments will be made and the final EHC plan will be issued. If any requested amendments have not been agreed an explanation of the reasons for this will be given.
Maintaining Education, Health and Care Plans
During the Covid-19 crisis, many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home. Schools, colleges, other training providers and local authorities will consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person. All children and young people with EHC plans who need to be in school will be supported to do so or alternative arrangements made.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 allows the Secretary of State, where appropriate, to temporarily lift the statutory duty on local authorities to maintain the precise provision in EHC plans; with local authorities needing instead to apply ‘reasonable endeavours’ to support these children and their families.
Annual Review meetings
Educational settings are making every effort to continue to hold annual reviews remotely for children with EHC Plans; however some may need to postpone annual review meetings due to take place in the summer term.
Any annual review reports received by the SEN Co-ordination Team will be considered in the usual way and local authority recommendations will be communicated to parents and schools by phone call and email in the usual way.
Annual Reviews can either be completed on the old EHC Plan format or on the new Annual Review paperwork. Although the new paperwork launch has been put on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic, we still plan to launch the new paperwork in September 2020.
If you have any concerns or questions about the assessment or review process or provision for a child or young person with an EHC Plan, please email us on SENdept@ork.gov.uk.
An EHCP is a legal document which describes your child / young person's needs. It sets out the education, health and care services needed to meet those needs and the type of educational place that would best suit your child. Your child could have a plan from birth to 25 if he or she stays in education, and the plan will change and develop as your child gets older.
The purpose of an EHCP is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of children and young people (between the ages of 0 to 25 years) to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and as they get older, prepare them for adulthood.
A copy of the EHCP is available to download. The template has been designed to be easy to use, fully flexible, but to retain consistent structure to meet the needs of a wide age and ability range. The sections are colour-coded to help you find your way round. There is also a PDF of the final plan so that you can see what a complete plan looks like.
If parent or school consider a child or young person to have a special educational need or disability then a co-ordinated assessment of their needs should be undertaken by the educational setting. A multi-agency planning meeting should be held to pull together all the information about the child or young person and a 'My Support Plan' drawn up. The 'My Support Plan' should then be implemented and reviewed. If the multi-agency team decide that higher level of support is required for the child or young person then a request for an EHC needs assessment is made to the local authority. The views, wishes and aspirations of the child, young person and their family are an integral part of this assessment process and they should be consulted at every step of this process.
Anyone can bring a child or young person to the LA’s attention, if they think the child has or may have SEN and an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. This should be done with the knowledge and, where possible, agreement of the child’s parent or the young person. A parental or young persons (over the age of 16) request can be made directly to the SEN Team in writing.
A statutory assessment will consider special educational needs together with health and social care needs. When a request is made, the child will have demonstrated 'significant cause for concern' despite all relevant and purposeful action being taken. The education setting, or other practitioner, such as a Portage worker, health visitor or social worker, may bring a child to our attention.
They should provide the Local Authority with a range of information including: evidence of how the child and family have been involved the child’s strengths, special educational needs and any health and care needs relating to their SEN the outcomes for the child: i.e. what will s/he be able to do that they cannot do currently the interventions and strategies in place and an evaluation of the impact of these on improving outcomes for the child the resources or special arrangements that they have already made available the specialist advice they have acted upon over time.
When we receive a request for an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), we will need to decide whether or not your child needs one. A panel of education, health and care professionals makes this decision.
The panel makes its decision based on:
The Local Authority may decide that the evidence does not support a statutory needs assessment and that the child’s needs should be met through school -based SEN Support, through a MSP. In these situations the Local Authority will explain the reasons to the parent and to the education setting and set out what they should do next to continue to meet the child’s needs.
The Local Authority will also set out the rights of appeal.
If parents, and young people over the age of 16 if they are able to make their own decision, disagree with this decision, they first have to consider mediation and have a right of appeal through The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
If the Local Authority feels that it should assess the child formally, it must seek statutory advice from all the services and settings involved and ask the child and family for their views, wishes and feelings.. The SEN Service and the lead practitioner will provide further information and support to the family. Everyone has 6 weeks to return their advice and reports. The statutory assessment will provide information on the following:
• The child’s strengths
• The child and family’s views, wishes and feelings
• The special education, health and care needs
• How the needs can best be met
• Special resources, equipment or input
• Access to buildings, curriculum etc.
• What outcomes are desired: what will the child be able to do that they can not do now?
If, following a statutory assessment, the Local Authority decides that a child requires support above what must be provided by the setting, an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will be issued. This will be drafted in consultation with the family. It will not say at this stage where the child will go to school. The family has 15 days to give their views on the content in the EHCP. They can express a preference for a named setting and confirm if, and how, they would like to take up the offer of a Personal Budget.
If a child’s parent or a young person makes a request for a particular nursery, school or post-16 institution in these groups the Local Authority must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC plan unless:
• it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
• the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources.
A final EHCP must be issued within 20 weeks of the initial request being received and it will name an education setting although there are some exceptions allowed. Parents and young people have a right of appeal at this stage through The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. It important that the EHCP is specific and identifies all the child's needs and that it matches detailed provision to meet these needs and the identified outcomes.
Sometimes the Local Authority’s view is that the statutory assessment advice says that an EHCP is NOT needed. If this is the case, the Authority will explain in writing and also say how the education setting should continue to meet the child’s needs. Parents, and the young person if they are over 16 and able to make a decision, have the right to appeal against the Local Authority's decision through The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal after mediation has been considered.
Single Route of Redress – National Trial
The Government have extended the powers of the SEND Tribunal to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. This is a two-year trial from 3rd April 2018. For more about this, please read:
Education settings should meet with parents at least 3 times a year and they are responsible for ensuring that the EHCP is delivered throughout the year. Ultimately the Local Authority is responsible for ensuring the child or young person receives the provision specified. The purpose of an Annual Review is to ensure that at least once a year the parents, pupil, Local Authority, school and all the professionals involved monitor and evaluate the continued effectiveness and relevance of the provision set out in the Statement or Education, Health and Care Plan. The meeting should:
• Consider progress by the pupil towards the objectives of the Statement or the Outcomes in the EHCP
• Consider if the Statement/ EHCP requires amendment, and if so, how
• Discuss and set new targets and review progress towards the agreed Outcomes
• Ensure that any phase transitions such as transfer from nursery (FS1) to Reception (FS2); primary to secondary school or 14-19 transition requirements are considered and followed according to the timeline set out in the SEND Code of Practice.
Here is an animation for children, young people and parents to help understand the process.
For more information about appealing EHC Plans, follow the link to read all about the rights parents and young people have regarding Tribunals- Parents and young people's right to appeal to the Tribunal about EHC Plans.
In line with Schedule 2 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 all local areas in England are required to publish details in their local offers for ‘notifying parents and young people of their right to appeal a decision of the local authority to the Tribunal’ and this includes their extended rights as part of the single route of redress national trial. The following information on the national trial, to supplement the information that must already be published on the right to appeal a decision of the local authority, has been included below to support local authorities in fulfilling this duty.
What is the National Trial?
The Government are extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a national trial. The trial will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018 and will run until August 2020, when a decision will be made on its continuation.
To date, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC plans. The trial gives you new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.
It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
What does this mean for parents and young people?
If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. This trial now gives you the opportunity to also request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time. This will mean the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.
This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, including from your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).
If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is non-binding. The local authority and/or health commissioner is generally expected to follow such recommendations, but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set-out in writing to you and to the Department for Education through the evaluators. If they are not followed, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. Further information on the roles of these bodies can be found on their websites.
When can a parent or young person request recommendations about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan?
You can request the Tribunal makes recommendations about the health and/or social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to:
• the description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC
• the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
• the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
• a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
• a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young
person who has an EHC plan
• a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or
• a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan
What does this mean for local areas?
The Trial places responsibility on local authority SEND teams to:
1. Inform parents and young people of their new rights through decision letters and the local offer
2. Provide evidence to the Tribunal from the health and social care bodies in response to any issues raised within the timeframe set by the Tribunal, seeking permission to bring additional witnesses to the hearing as necessary
3. If a recommendation has been made, send the health and social care response letters to the evaluators at SENDletters@IFFResearch.com.
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
1. Respond to any request for information and evidence within the timeframe set by the Tribunal
2. Send a witness to attend the hearing as required
3. Respond to the parent/young person and the LA SEND team within 5 weeks of a recommendation being made, setting out the steps they have decided to take or giving reasons why they are not going to follow the recommendation.
How can a parent or young person request a health or social care recommendation?
If you wish to appeal against a local authority decision on any of the grounds above and want to request that the Tribunal considers your concerns about the health and /or social care aspects of the EHC plan, you should follow the normal process for bringing an appeal to the Tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal. Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website and further guidance can be found in the trial toolkit of support.
Taking part in the evaluation
There will be an independent evaluation of the trial to inform a decision on whether the new tribunal recommendation powers should be continued after the trial. The evaluation will run alongside the trial, from January 2018 to March 2021.
It is important that the evaluation is based on robust evidence, and the evaluators are therefore strongly encouraging participation from parents and young people. This could include taking part in a telephone or online interview just after the appeal hearing (or when the appeal process has been completed, if earlier), and then a follow-up interview 6 months later. These interviews will help the evaluators to gather the views of parents and young people on the appeal process, as well as identify how recommendations have been implemented and what the (early) impact has been.
Parents and young people that take part in the trial will receive a letter from the Tribunal explaining more about the evaluation and how their personal data will be stored confidentially and how it will be protected.
As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation as part of the trial?
Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the LA. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation about those issues, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal. An appeal to the Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.
Help and further information
• A guidance document on the national trial is published as part of a toolkit of support
• Follow this link to York's SENDIASS
• The evaluation of the trial is led by IFF Research working with Belmana. For any questions or to get involved please get in touch with them at SENDtrial@IFFResearch.com, freephone: 0800 035 6051.
If you are unhappy with your child's Education, Health and Care Plan you can contact York Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Services Team (SENDIASS). They can advise you about the Independent Dispute and Resolution Service.