How to check your draft EHC Plan – guidance for parents

You have been through the EHC needs Assessment and have just received your draft EHC Plan – now what?

Timescales

If the Local Authority agree that an EHC Plan is needed, they must send the draft EHC plan (including the appendices containing the advice and information gathered during the EHC needs assessment) to the child’s parent or to the young person and give at least 15 days for you to give views and make comments (‘representations’) on the content. During this period, the local authority must make its officers available for a meeting with the child’s parent or the young person on request if they wish to discuss the content of the draft EHC plan. (9.77 of the SEND CoP 2015).

During this time, you also have the opportunity to give your preference for school / college setting and request for personal budget if applicable. If SENAT do not hear from you within this time they will presume you are happy with it and will go ahead and issue the final.

Therefore, it is best to start looking at this straight away as you may need a few days on and off to check it fully. Although there is no right or wrong way to check your draft, the following steps may be helpful.

A bit about the draft EHC Plan itself

You can see that the EHC Plan is broken into 11 sections:

  • A – Aspirations
  • B – Special Education Needs
  • C – Health Care needs
  • D – Social care Needs
  • E – Outcomes
  • F – Special educational Provision
  • G – Health provision
  • H – Social Care provision (split into H1 & H2)
  • I – Placement (name of educational setting)*
  • J – Details of personal budget *
  • K – list of reports and evidence

* These will be blank in the draft copy you receive.

You will also notice that Section B is divided into 4 categories:

  • Communication & Interaction
  • Cognition & Learning
  • Physical and/or Sensory
  • Social, Emotional Mental Health

Sections E & F are also divided into these same categories, but you will see that E is closely followed by F within each.

To find out more information on the difference between needs, provision and outcomes and how they link together, click here.

Before you begin

There are a variety of ways you can note the amendments, and this will depend on what works best for you. You may want to create a table with the different sections where you can make comments ; add comments to the paper draft itself, create an electronic ‘working document; write or email your comments. At this stage, there is no right or wrong way, so long as the planning coordinator can understand what amendments / additions / deletions you are asking for.

Create an extra copy to write on (either electronic or paper copy) by either photocopying or printing.

  • Top tip: Make sure you keep the original (either an electronic or paper copy) safe and do not write on it.

Highlighters may be helpful to show different sections / amendments.

Use a pencil instead of a pen so that you can erase if necessary

Have spare paper to write notes on.

Checking the Draft

First

Have a quick read through the plan in its entirety to get used to how it is set out and what goes where.

Then go through it again (you may want to start taking notes as you go along at this point), this time asking yourself such questions as:

  • Does it give you a clear picture of your child or young person?
  • Does it show their strengths and their weaknesses?
  • Is there anything inaccurate?
  • Are there any gaps?

Next

Section A – is there anything incorrect or missing?

Section K – Are there any reports or documentation missing from section K that were submitted that haven’t been used to write the EHC Plan? If there are, make a note on this section.

  • Top Tip: you should have received all of those listed in section K along with the draft. If not, contact your planning coordinator to request copies.
Section B, C & D (Needs)

Important to note: For every need in section B, C & D, there should be a respective provision in section F, G & H. One of the easiest ways to keep track of this is to reference all the needs in each of the categories in B as well as in sections C & D.

It may be helpful to start at 1 and keep going through to the end of section D or perhaps label them C&I1,2, …, Com1,2…, SP1,2…, Sect C1,2 … and so on or do something entirely different.

At the same time, check that there are no inaccuracies or any needs missing. If there are, where possible find the original report that mentions the need and use the wording from there. Add a note of the report and page (& section) next to your notes so that the planning coordinator can find it to check later.

Sections F, G & H (Provision)

You will now need to make sure that for every reference point you made in section B etc, there is a provision to meet that need in section F. Where there is a related provision reference them the same ie SP1 in B will be SP1in F, 13 in B will be 13 in F etc. this should result in there being at least 2 of each reference (a need and at least 1 provision).

Where there is any provision missing, you can then make a note of this, and either write it in yourself (esp if it is in one of the reports) or if not sure what provision there should be you can just state that it is missing.

By the end, you may find that you have some provision that isn’t referenced. This is likely to be because there is no matching need so you may want to query that (or insert the missing need in Section B).

You can then move onto Sections G & H (or do these first if easier)

Additional notes about C, D, G & H. Check that there is nothing in here that should be in sections B & F instead. If a provision educates or trains then this should be in section F, which means that the need should be in section B.

Section E (Outcomes)
  1. Take a look at the outcomes in each of the categories.
  2. Check they are outcomes and not provision or need. 
  3. Are they SMART? (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound).

Examples:

  • Peter wants to have friends = Aspiration
  • Peter has difficulty with his social skills = Need
  • Peter will participate in a daily 15-minute group (up to 3 students) session focusing on social skills and role-play activities, which will be led by the Speech and Language Therapist = Provision
  • By the end of the term Peter will have 2 friends, who he will socialise with at breaks and lunchtimes at least twice a week. = Short term outcome
  • Peter will be able to maintain and make appropriate friendships = long term outcome.

If they are not outcomes or not SMART, you can mention this in your referencing using their own lettering ie E3 ‘not smart’ / ‘not an outcome’ / ‘does not match any need’ / ‘has no provision to meet outcome’ etc.

Do the outcomes make sense when comparing to needs? i.e if an outcome is ‘to be able to follow 3 instructions together’, is there mention of having difficulty following instructions of more than 1 or 2 steps? If not, question why that is an outcome for your child or young person?

Lastly

When you are satisfied that you have covered everything you need to:

  • Keep a copy of the amendments you have asked for
  • Send the document(s) back to the planning coordinator either by email or through the post.
  • Ensure you include an explanation of any referencing etc that you have

To note: once you have received your draft the LA should not be proposing its own insertions and deletions other than in response to your proposed amendments.

What happens next

If you and the planning coordinator have been liaising about the changes you have asked for, you should have a clear idea about what has and what hasn’t been accepted by the time you receive the Final EHC Plan. However, if you are not happy with the contents within sections B-D and F-H of the final Plan, or with the placement in section I then you do have the right to appeal these at the First Tier Tribunal (SEND).

Please note:

  • You are not able to appeal the other sections (A,E,J,K).
  • You are not able to appeal anything in the health & social care sections (C,D,G & H) if you are not also appealing educational sections B&F
If you think you will struggle to do this on your own then please do contact us by email: send.ias@westsussex.gov.uk or call us on: 0330 222 8555 to discuss how we may be able to support you with this.

Further information:

IPSEA EHC Plan Checklist

Read more

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