Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) workstream
From September 2014 the new Children and Families Act 2014 will become law. This replaces the current Statement of Special Educational Needs and Section 139a Learning Difficulty Assessment with the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) running from birth to age 25 years for children with special educational needs.
The main differences are that the EHCP is:
- More person centred with more engagement and involvement from parents, carers, children and young people in the process
- More co-ordinated assessment process across education, health and care services
- Focusses on outcomes to be achieved for each child/young person
- Runs from birth to age 25
- Includes parents, carers, children and young people at the heart of the changes
- The legislation applies equally to all schools including academies and free schools.
Trialling the draft EHCP process and format in Hampshire
Hampshire County Council has been trialling the new approach for the EHCP between September 2013 and February 2014 to help inform the new Act.
Between September 2013 and February 2014 families, in addition to the current statutory assessment process, were offered the opportunity to participate in the trial when a request for a statutory assessment was received. Taking part in the trial did not affect the family’s current statutory assessment rights, but allowed us to try out a more collaborative and integrated assessment process.
For some families the EHC assessment trail is still under way and will be completed by July 2014. We have also been trialling the format with those young people in year 11 requiring a new Section 139a Learning difficulty Assessment to set out the provision and support required in their post 16 education setting, for example a college.
The new EHCP will become law in September 2014, and therefore the current legislation and statutory protections will apply for families completing an EHCP trial until the revised legislation is in place.
Transition to the EHCP for those with existing statements/s139a LDA
For those with existing statements, of which there are approximately 5,000 in Hampshire, we are expecting guidance from the DfE about the process to be used from September 2014 by which these will be transferred in to the EHCP process. This will also include the Section 139a Learning Difficulty Assessments. This is likely to be at annual review stage, in a phased programme over the course of a few years.
Learning so far
As we continue the trail we are adapting the plan format, guidance for professionals and information for families reflecting the feedback we have received. We have also been working closely with other local authorities to share best practice.
The Children and Families Act has now been finalised. We are awaiting the accompanying regulations and the new code of practice for SEN which will contain further guidance and detail. In the meantime we are working with families and professionals to amend our annual review processes to make sure these are person centred and thorough.
Questions and Answers:
Q1. My child has a statement now. I am worried we will have to go through the whole process again to obtain an EHCP.
A. You will not have to go through the process again. There will be a transition process where existing statements and Section 139a Learning Difficulty Assessments move over to an EHCP. We are waiting for more information from the Government about how this will happen across the country.
Q2. How will we know what the changes are and how they will affect us?
A. By developing the Local Offer, it will be easier for you to understand and find out about services, advice and support that are available in your area. Our Local Offer is being developed with parents/carers, children and young people, and it should improve transparency and choice for families. We are planning to make Hampshire County Council's Local Offer available by the end of June 2014. Look out for newsletters, publications and briefings.
Q3. My daughter is due to start school in September 2014 but her pre-school has no idea that changes are happening to the SEN system.
A. The promotional activities we are planning will help raise the profile and understanding of what this means for providers, as well as parents/carers, children and young people. The EHC Assessment and Plan will not come into operation until September 2014. The new EHCP is expected to cover the same groups of children and young people who would have had a Statement of SEN or a Learning Difficultly Assessment and plan for further education provision.
Q4. How will I appeal decisions if I do not think that the EHC Assessment is right for my child?
A. Appeal routes will remain the same as for the current process. It will only be possible to appeal to the first tier tribunal against the decision not to undertake an EHC needs assessment or against the SEN needs and provision specified in the EHCP. For the first time young people will also be able to appeal in their own right.
Q5. We understand that School Action and School Action Plus are being replaced. What with, and what does this mean for my child?
A. The Government is developing proposals for a single school category to replace School Action and School Action Plus. The final publication of the SEN Code of Practice in the Summer of 2014 will have further details.
Q6. Is this an excuse to reduce budgets for children with additional needs/disabilities? Will the overall budget stay the same or reduce?
A. The overall budget will remain the same. The costs of some of the intended reforms, such as the Local Offer, mediation/disagreement resolution and managing Personal Budgets, will place additional pressures on existing budgets. The anticipated national public sector spending review for 2015 may also mean that the amount of money available to fund a range of services will reduce.
A Statement of Special Educational Needs outlines what your child’s special educational needs are and the help that will be given by their education placement.
A Section 139a Learning Difficulty Assessment outlines your child’s education and training needs, and the provision and support required in Post 16 college setting.