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How to check your draft EHC Plan
You have been through the EHC needs Assessment and have just received your draft EHC plan – now what?
If the local authority (“LA”) agree that an EHC plan is needed, they must send the draft EHC plan, including the reports mentioned in section K (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. (see 9.77 of SEND CoP 2015).
In West Sussex the officers representing the LA for EHC plans are ‘SENAT’ (Special Educational Needs Assessment Team) and parent carers and young people will generally be liaising with an assigned Planning Coordinator. You can find out more about SENAT via their page on the Local Offer.
During this time, you also have the opportunity to give your preference for school / college setting and request for a 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 to check it fully. Although there is no right or wrong way to check your draft, you may find the following steps helpful.
Please click on the headings below to see more information:
A bit about the draft EHC plan itself
You will see that the EHC plan is broken into 11 sections:
- A – Aspirations
- B – Special Educational Needs
- C – Health Care needs
- D – Social care Needs
- E – Outcomes
- F – Special Educational Provision
- G – Health Care 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
You will notice that Section B is divided into 4 categories:
- Communication & Interaction
- Cognition & Learning
- Physical and/or Sensory
- Social, Emotional Mental Health
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 make a note of the amendments to give to your Planning Coordinator at SENAT, and this will depend on what works best for you. You may want to create a table with the different sections where you can note comments; add comments to the paper draft itself; create an electronic ‘working document‘; write or just put your comments in an email. There is no right or wrong way, so long as the planning coordinator can understand what amendments / additions / deletions you are asking for, and that you back these requests up with reference to a report(s) where possible.
Top Tip: Before you do anything, if you are going to write anything on the draft itself, create a copy to write on (either an electronic or a paper copy). Make sure you keep the original (either an electronic or paper copy) safe and do not write on it.
- Coloured 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
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?
Section A – is there anything incorrect or missing? If there is, make a note.
Section K – Are there any reports 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 a copy of all of the reports 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 in B and keep going through to the end of section D. Alternatively you may want to label them according to category i.e. C&I1,2, …, Com1,2…, SP1,2…, Sect C1,2 … and so on or you may want do something entirely different. Use whatever method or process that helps you explain your requests and comments to your planning coordinator.
At the same time as this, check that there are no inaccuracies or any needs missing. If there are, then where possible find the original report that mentions the need and use the wording from there. Add a note of the report and page number (& section) next to your notes so that the Planning Coordinator can find it to check.
Make sure you have checked the Needs in Sections C & D. Once all these have been checked you can move onto the next sections.
Section F, G & H (Provision)
You will now need to make sure that for every reference to ‘need’ you made in section B (plus C & D), there is a provision to meet that need in section F (G & H). Where there is a related provision use the same referencing system i.e. SP1 in B will be SP1 in F, 13 in B will be 13 in F etc. This would result in there being at least 2 of each reference (a need and at least 1 provision).
Where there is any provision missing, make a note of this, and either write it in yourself (esp if it is in one of the reports) or if you are not sure what provision there should be, then just state that it is missing.
If you find that you have some provision that isn’t referenced to a need, then you may want to query that (or insert the missing need in Section B – if you are aware of it).
You can then move onto Sections G & H.
Additional notes about C, D, G & H (Health & Social Care) . Check that there is nothing in here that should be in sections B & F instead. If a health or social care provision educates or trains then this should be in section F, which means that the need should also be in section B.
Section E (Outcomes)
- Take a look at the outcomes in each of the 4 categories.
- Check they are actually outcomes and not provision or need.
- Are they SMART? (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound).
- Do the outcomes make sense for your child or young person especially when comparing to their needs?
- 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 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 in Section B? If not, question why that is an outcome for your child or young person?
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 that you have used
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 (and why) by the time you receive the Final EHC plan. However, if the final plan is issued and you are still not happy with the contents within sections B-D and F-H , or with the placement in section I, then you do have the right to appeal these at the First Tier Tribunal (SEND).
- You are not able to appeal other sections (A,E,J,K).
- You can only appeal contents in the health & social care sections (C,D,G & H) if you are also appealing educational sections B&F and I. You cannot appeal them on their own.
IPSEA EHC plan Checklist
If you think you will struggle to do this on your own then please do contact us by email: email@example.com or call us on: 0330 222 8555 to discuss how we may be able to support you.