Education Health and Care Plans (including personal budgets)
A new approach
In September 2014 the Government introduced a new system designed to promote better outcomes for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) up to the age of 25. The aim is to intervene early and effectively as soon as any difficulties are identified. One key new element is the idea of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) which will replace Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Disability Assessments. The new EHCPs set out, in the case of those with more severe and complex needs, what is needed from education, health and social care services to achieve the outcomes that are important to the child or young person. This will help contribute towards the desired outcomes of a successful transition to being an adult, living independently, getting a job and being a productive member of society (for more details on EHCPs see section 1 of the Guide for Parents and Carers).
Moving to the new system
Moving to the new system is no small task. It is the biggest change in the field of SEND for a generation and it will take time to bring in the new arrangements and get everyone used to new approaches and new ways of working. The Government has set a date of 31 March 2018 to complete the first phase of the transition and it may take a few years after that for everyone to be fully aware of the new landscape. Sandwell has successfully completed the first phase of transitioning to the new system by completing the transfer of statements of special educational needs and learning disability assessments to the new education, health and care plans.
New Assessments for EHCPs (School and Pre-school)
If a child or young person is identified as having special educational needs the expectation is that, in the vast majority of cases, those needs will be met effectively in school using additional resources that are ordinarily available there (e.g. support from a classroom assistant or small-group work). What this means in practice is that schools are expected to spend up to £6,000 on additional support before they ask the Local Authority for additional funding through an EHCP. However, if a child continues to fall behind even after being provided with additional support, the school (or Early Years Panel in the case of pre-schoolers not at school) will ask for a Community Assessment Meeting (CAM) to be convened. At the CAM all parties (the child or young person, parents, school, other support agencies) will meet to look at the evidence and plan a way forward. This may result in the Local Authority deciding to start an assessment which could result in an EHCP being produced. The assessment process will be managed by the Assessment Team which is part of our statutory SEN Service.
If issued the EHCP will detail the child's needs, short and long term outcomes and the provision required to achieve those outcomes. In order to ensure that EHCPs produced by the Local Authority address all aspects of a child's or young person's needs the SEN Service has professionals from other agencies embedded within it who can bring their expertise to bear during the assessment process.
At all times parents (and young people if aged between 16 and 25) have the statutory right to request an assessment. To do so please contact the SEN Team on 0121-569-8240 or by email at SEN_Team@sandwell.gov.uk
A request for an assessment can also come from:
- a school or nursery
- a local authority
For an assessment request to be successful it must be shown that the child or young person has not made progress even with the provision of the £6,000 of additional support from the school and that progress will be made with the additional resources that will come with an EHCP. This will be discussed at the CAM which would follow a request for assessment
More details of how to request an EHCP assessment and the process that follows can be found in section 6 of the Guide for Parents and Carers.
New Assessments for EHC Plan (Post 16)
Occasionally professional agencies working together will have disagreements over how best to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. We have produced a Dispute Resolution Protocol which sets out how these differences can be resolved quickly and effectively.
The process of assessment for an EHCP can be daunting for parents and young people. As part of the new SEND arrangements, the Government has allocated a significant amount of additional funding to appoint Independent Supporters who will help parents and young people through the EHCP process. There will be 12 supporters per local authority and, as the name suggests, they will be independent of the local authority so as to avoid any conflict of interest.
The independent supporter can:
- help you understand the assessment and guide you through the process
- ensure your views, needs and wishes are included
- help with paperwork
- meet with you in a variety of locations, including home
- support in meetings with professionals
- act as a named contact or advocate
- provide you with information about the Local Offer
- check your EHCP to ensure you are happy with it
- help you recognise the difference between goals, aspirations and outcomes
Currently the Sandwell Independent Supporter Service is provided by the organisation KIDS but this contract will end on 31 March 2018. It is unclear at the moment which organisation will take over this service after that date. The service is currently at capacity and is unable to receive new referrals before the end of the contract. Anyone who requires support through the EHCP process during the transition period can use the Special Educational Needs and Disability Independent Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS). Click here for more information about Sandwell SENDIASS. Alternatively, this video from the Council for Disabled Children gives more information about the role of SENDIASS.
SEN and Disability Tribunal
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. The tribunal can make binding judgments regarding the educational aspects of an EHC Plan but there is a national trial starting in April 2018 to allow the tribunal to make non-binding judgments regarding the health and social care aspects. The Government has issued guidance about the national trial. Alternatively, you can find out more about the trial by visiting the SEND Pathfinder website or by reading this explanatory leaflet.
Personal Education Budgets
If your child has an EHCP you or your child, if he/she is able, have the right to request a personal budget which is the amount of money required to fund any of the provision set out in the EHCP. A personal budget can be delivered in a number of ways:
- You or your child can request a direct payment instead of the provision so that you can arrange it yourself. This is a payment of money to you instead of the Local Authority arranging the provision.
- an arrangement whereby the Local Authority or a school holds the budget and arranges the support specified in the plan (this is referred to as a notional budget)
- a direct payment to a third party where an individual or an organisation receives and manages payment on behalf of you or your child
- a combination of the above
You can request that the Local Authority identify a personal budget or make a direct payment at two times:
- when an EHCP is being prepared after a statutory assessment
- when an EHCP is being reviewed
You cannot request a personal budget if your child has a statement of SEN or a Learning Disability Assessment (LDA). You must wait until a review when a transfer to an EHCP is being considered.
There are a few restrictions on personal education budgets and direct payments:
- direct payments cannot be used to fund a place at a school or a post-16 institution
- the local authority can refuse a request for a direct payment if it considers that to do so would have an adverse impact on services which the local authority provides to other children and young people with an EHCP
- the local authority can refuse a request for a direct payment if it does not consider it to be an efficient use of its resources
- the local authority cannot make any direct payments in respect of goods or services provided in an early years setting, school or post-16 institution without the written consent of the provider, head teacher or principal
More information about personal education budgets can be found in section 6 of the Guide for Parents and Carers.
Information about personal budgets in adult social care in Sandwell
Information about personal health budgets in Sandwell or to request a personal health budget please email email@example.com and mark for the attention of Lisa Reeves
Annual Reviews of EHCPs
An EHCP is a dynamic document and can change to reflect changes in personal circumstances, including changes to a child or young person's special educational needs. The means to reflect these changes is a statutory review of the EHCP. Every EHCP must be reviewed within 12 months of the date it was issued and at least every 12 months thereafter. Reviews must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan. The review must also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate. In some cases it may also consider whether, given the progress the child or young person has made, it is appropriate to discontinue the EHCP.
All reviews must be undertaken in partnership with the child and their parent or the young person and must reflect their views, wishes and feelings including their right to request a personal budget. The vast majority of review meetings will be convened by and held at the establishment where the child or young person is placed and you should receive at least 2 weeks notice in order to maximise your opportunity to attend. You should also receive any reports and documentation at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting.
The meeting will review the targets in the EHCP and set new ones. It may also agree new outcomes for the EHCP. Following the review meeting reports will be sent to the SEN Service and a decision will be made to either:
- maintain the EHCP in its current form
- amend the EHCP in light of the review
- discontinue the EHCP
In all cases the SEN Service will notify you of its decision and you have the right of appeal if you disagree with the decision.
For more information on the statutory review process see section 9 of the SEND Code of Practice.