An EHC plan is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs. It explains the extra help that is required to meet those needs and how that help will support the child to achieve what they want to in life.
As from the 1 September 2014 Statements of Special Educational Needs will be gradually replaced with EHC Plans which will be phased in over a three year period ending 1st April 2018.
The 3 documents which are being “rolled-up” into one document, the Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) are:
- The Statement of Special Educational Needs
- Social Services Core Assessments and Care Plans
- NHS Continuing Healthcare
Only the education sections of the EHC Plan can be appealed to the SEND Tribunal. The sections which can be the subject of an appeal to the SEND Tribunal are basically the original “Statement of Special Educational Needs” sections of the EHC Plan. They are:
- Section B (This is the equivalent of Part 2 of the Statement of Special Educational Needs) and this comprises the child or young person’s educational needs.
- Section F (This is the equivalent of Part 3 of a Statement of Special Educational Needs) and comprises the child or young person’s provision.
- Section I (This section is the equivalent of Part 4 of the Statement of Special Educational Needs) and concerns placement.
The previous case law continues to apply.
The definition of education has been extended, and now not only includes therapies (speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy) but also includes training. For example independence training is now an educational need covered by the educational sections of the EHC Plan.
If disputed, the Health and Social Services Sections of the EHC Plan can be effectively dealt with using complaints procedures and if a point of law is involved Judicial Review in the Administrative Division of the High Court is undoubtedly more appropriate. Complaints procedures are generally unsuitable if a clear legal right and entitlement is involved, and there is a need to act quickly.
EHC Plans will continue until the age of 25, unless the young person is going to university, or into an apprenticeship.
The EHC Plan has an option for Direct Payments, in our view, Direct Payments could be a mistake for some parents. Education is expensive, and the concern here is that Direct Payments will be under funded and there is no right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal in the event of legitimate disagreement about whether the funding is adequate.
It is expected that all children and young people who have a Statement and who would have continued to have one under the current system will be transferred to an EHC Plan. Official guidance says that “no child or young person should lose their Statement and not have it replaced with an ECH Plan simply because the system is changing”.