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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:
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
* These will be blank in the draft copy you receive.
You will 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.
Fact Sheet – Private reports
Should reports parents have commissioned privately, be accepted by the LA during an Education Health & Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA)? What can you do if they insist on using their own and/or refuse to use yours?
There is no black and white advice on this, but the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 (‘SEND Regs’) do provide some direction especially in Sections 6 and 7.
What advice and information must the LA request
During an EHCNA, the LA must seek advice and information on the needs of the child or young person, and what provision may be required to meet these needs as well as the outcomes that are intended to be achieved by the child or young person receiving that provision. Section 6 (1) gives us a list that this advice and information must be sought from and as well as others includes :
- psychological – from an educational psychologist;
- any other person the local authority thinks are appropriate;
- from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.
When seeking advice, the LA must provide the person they are seeking advice from with copies of
(a) any representations made by the child’s parent or the young person, and
(b) any evidence submitted by or at the request of the child’s parent or the young person.
When the LA should not seek any information or advice
The LA should not seek any advice or information (as listed in (b) to (h) of the 6 (i) list), if the advice has previously been provided ‘for any purpose’ and the person providing it, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that it is ‘sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs assessment’.
For example, a professional report should contain advice and information on the CYP’s needs, the Special Educational provision required to meet those needs (e.g. what the provision is, who is expected to provide it, how often, for how long and so on) and the outcomes that can be expected as a result of receiving that provision. Any report that fails to include this specificity must be referred back to them for additional advice.
This implies that if you have a private report and ask for it to be included then the only reasons the LA should refuse to consider it is that they themselves or the person who wrote it are not satisfied that it is ‘sufficient for the purpose of an EHCNA’ (i.e. it does not have the specificity).
It also implies that the LA should go back to the author of the report for additional advice. However, if for any reason this cannot be done, and not all parties are satisfied with the existing Info and advice, then the LA can seek advice from another professional, (sending the existing report to them to consider).
As part of the EHC needs assessment itself the SEND regulations also state that the LA must consider any information provided to the local authority by or at the request of the child, the child’s parent or the young person; and minimise disruption for the child, the child’s parent, the young person and their family. 7(b) & (e)
This would generally apply to any additional information and advice outside of the 6(i) list, but the highlighted phase is particularly important here. If a private EP (for example) has already seen your child, AND the report includes all the specificity AND you and the EP themselves are ‘satisfied that it is sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs assessment’ then the LA would have to have a very good reason for not including it and / or carrying out another EP assessment.
It is worth noting that professionals have certain work standards (or codes of conduct) that they must work to. Generally, if they assess a child then they are committed to doing what is right for that child. This means identifying their needs and the provision required based on this child’s particular needs rather than any particular resources that may or may not be available.
When weighing up whether a private or LA commissioned report is ‘preferred’ then such factors as the amount of time the professional has spent observing and assessing the child; how often and over how long; and the expertise of the professional, should all be considered.
If the LA accept the validity of the report and the author, then all the recommendations should be agreed, unless additional advice has been sought and they have agreed with some of the recommendations and not others. There should be clear reasons why though.
Remember: if paying for a private report, make sure the person writing the report agrees for it to be included within an EHCNA AND that it specifies needs and provision appropriately.
Ask the LA (your Planning Coordinator) to explain clearly in writing why they would not include your report (or sections of the report) in the EHCNA. The LA should be able to give you the specific reasons why they are not satisfied that it is sufficient for the purposes of the EHCNA. If you do not agree with their response and
If it is about Specificity, ask the LA allow you to go back to the author of the report and ask them to include this (it might be beneficial to do this anyway).
If you feel that there isn’t a valid reason and an assessment by a different professional would cause unnecessary disruption to your CYP, yourselves and the family, contact the LA and explain this and ask them to reconsider.
If, despite discussion, no compromise can be reached then you may need to submit an appeal to the SEND Tribunal regarding Contents.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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.
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
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on: 0330 222 8555 to discuss how we may be able to support you.