Supporting children or young people with SEND can be exceptionally challenging, however with the right assessments and support there is a huge reward and comfort in seeing a child with SEND settle into their education and succeed. Find out more below SEND assessments, processes, and outcomes, as well as more information about the EHCP process.
The information around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Education and HealthCare Plan (EHCP) provision is extensive and easy to get lost in. Whilst it may be good that this area of education is vast, ensuring that children with SEND are provided for, it does make finding information difficult to find. This page will only give an overview of SEND and the EHCP process. We encourage Gypsy, Roma and Traveller parents and families to seek one-to-one advice on SEND topics to ensure the vast amount of detail within this subject and each subsequent enquiry is fully understood.
This page only contains information about SEND and EHCP provision. If you need support, please visit the Find Help section.
What sub-section are available on this page?
- What are Special Educational Needs?
- Assessing Special Educational Needs
- Support Available for SEND
- What is an EHCP?
- What Does an EHCP Look Like?
- Assessment for an EHCP
What are Special Educational Needs?
Special educational needs, often referred to as ‘SEN’ or ‘SEND’ (Special educational needs and disabilities), is a term used to describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for a child to learn compared to children of the same age.
All children may experience challenges with learning at some point and for most children, these difficulties overcome with support from teachers and home. However, children with SEND are likely to need extra or different help to be able to learn. Some children may have SEND because of a medical condition or disability, other children may have SEND without a diagnosis or disability.
Children are not considered to have SEND just because their first language is not English. Although some children for whom is English is a second language may also have SEND.
Some examples of SEN are:
- emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD)
- Autism, including Asperger Syndrome
- Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADHD/ADD
- specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- communication difficulties
- medical needs such as Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy
- mobility difficulties.
If your child has SEN, they may need extra help in a range of areas, for example:
- reading, writing, number work or understanding information
- expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying
- making friends or relating to adults
- behaving properly in school
- organising themselves
- sensory or physical needs which may affect them in school.
In addition to the above recognised special educational needs, SEND also includes and child or person with a legal disability.
Assessing Special Educational Needs
Many children, at some time, will have special educational needs of some kind. The law says that all state schools must do their best to see that special help is provided for all children with SEN. Most children’s needs can be met by their ordinary (mainstream) school, sometimes with the help of outside specialists.
In a few cases, the local authority will have to assess a child’s educational needs, based on specialist advice. If the local authority then decide that the child needs special help, they must write a statement of special educational needs – usually called ‘a statement’. This describes all the child’s needs and all the special help that he or she needs. The child’s ordinary school and the local authority can usually provide this help with support from the local authority.
Support Available for SEND
There is a vast number of actions and provisions which can be made for pupils with SEND. These provisions are often specific to both the known needs and what works best for each specific child.
Some examples of support which can be made available are:
- special learning programmes
- extra help from a teacher or learning support assistant
- access to working in smaller groups
- observation in class or at break
- assistance taking part in class activities
- extra encouragement in their learning (for example to ask questions or to try something they find difficult)
- help communicating with other children
- support with physical or personal care difficulties (for example eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet)
Each school will have their own version of support for children with SEND. These will also include access to on-site support service, such as access to an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) and other counselling services. Schools will also support access to CAMHS or other external providers by offering advice and safe places to engage with services.
What is an EHCP?
Where a child requires additional support that goes beyond what a school, college, or nursery can typically deliver from their own budgets or staffing then they may need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
An EHC plan is a legally binding document outlining a child or young person’s special educational, health, and social care needs. The document must list all the child’s special educational needs and subsequent provisions, to meet each of the needs. Each provision must be specific, detailed, and quantified. The plan names the school or setting which is to provide the provision and the plan is legally enforceable ultimately through Judicial Review.
EHC plans are for those children (0-16) or young people (16-19) or adults (19-25) with special educational needs who require support beyond that which an educational setting can provide at SEN support. A child who has educational needs may also have additional health and social care needs and those can be included in the plan so long as they relate to education. You cannot have a freestanding EHCP for health or social care reasons alone.
What Does an EHCP Look Like?
The physical delivery of an EHC plan will differ from local authority to local authority, but there are some essential similarities and sections that we will define below:
- Section A: the views, interests and aspirations of the child and their parents, or the young person;
- Section B: the child or young person’s special educational needs (SEN)
- Section C: the health care needs which relate to their SEN
- Section D: the social care needs which relate to their SEN or a disability
- Section E: the outcomes sought for the child or young person
- Section F: the special educational provisions required to meet their SEN
- Section G: any health care provisions reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN
- Section H: social care provisions required by social services under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, and/or reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN
- Section I: the name of the school or institution to be attended by the child or young person, and the type of institution
- Section J: details of any direct payment which will be made
- Section K: copies of all of the advice and information obtained as part of the EHC needs assessment
This may seem like a lot to take in, but it’s necessary to explore each section.
Section A is more of an overview of the child and is not legally binding. It is for the benefit of the family and the child and creating transparent Outcomes for that phase of the education.
Section B is the section which must accurately describe each one of the special educational needs of your child, based on:
- Cognition and learning ability
- Communication and interaction skills
- Social, emotional and mental health.
- Sensory and physical disabilities
Section C is the section which looks at health care needs, which could include:
- Physical or mental health difficulties
- Eating issues
Section D looks at social care needs, such as being able to participate in extracurricular activities.
Section E combines all the information provided and collected and delivers the outcomes based on the assessment. This section details the educational aims that your child should be able to accomplish with the extra provisions. This could be based on educational success or the ability to take part.
Section F details your child’s support (provision) at school. This provision must be specific, detailed, and quantified.
It is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure that the provision named in the EHCP takes place. It is not the responsibility of the school. If you get embroiled in a dispute between the school and local authority, you should consider calling us.
You can enforce the EHCP/ provision through Judicial Review.
Section G looks specifically at the healthcare provision requirements, like equipment or medication. Your child may require monitoring software or a specialist wheelchair, for example.
Section H will define the social care provision for the individual, such as pre-arranged short breaks, extra-curricular or out of school activities, as well as home support for the family.
Section I, names the school, college, or educational facility that your child attends. During the draft stage, this should be left blank. The final EHCP will name the school. so that you can later choose which school for your child to attend if a change is required. A school or educational facility must admit the student if they are named here.
Section J contains information about the direct payments that will be made to get your child the support that they need.
Copies of all tests, assessments, advice, and reports, including parental reports, will be gathered up and contained within Section K.
Assessment for an EHCP
Before an assessment can be undertaken a request for an EHCP must be made. This request can be made by:
- Parents or relevant family member
- The school
- An interested party (such as an Advocate)
- A paediatrician
- A social worker
A simple written request must be sent to the local authority to initiate this process. The local authority then has 6 weeks from the date of the request to decide on whether to assess the child or not. Ideally, the local authority will agree to make an assessment so that we can move on to the next step.
Should the local authority decline to make the assessment, an appeal should be made to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. This is known as a Refusal to Assess hearing.
Once the local authority has agreed the assessment should be undertaken, the process must be completed within 16 weeks from the date the request was made.
Who will carry out the assessment?
The allocated Education, Health and Care Plan Coordinator will collate all the information and advice required to complete the assessment. The assessment process should be person centred, this means that the local authorities’ SEND service will make sure that the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person and their family are included in the assessment. The child or young person and their family will be asked what they want for the future and what outcomes they wish to seek and what support might help.
Advice may also be gathered from:
- the school or setting
- a specialist teacher (for children and young people with hearing and/or visual impairments)
- a speech and language therapists and /or other health professionals.
- an Educational Psychologist
- a Social Worker
- anyone else involved with the child or young person
They may be asked:
- what needs the child or young person has
- what outcomes they hope to achieve
- what support will help to meet the outcomes
What if there are existing reports or advice about the child or young person?
The local authority does not have to seek new advice where that type of advice has previously been provided for any purpose – for example, if there already was a recent educational psychologist’s report. This exception will only apply if the person providing that advice, the LA and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that the existing advice is sufficient. Previous advice can only be sufficient for an EHC needs assessment if it is relatively up to date and accurately reflects the child or young person’s current needs. As a rough guide, an educational psychologist’s report which is over two years old will not usually be recent enough to be useful.
What should the advice contain?
The advice must be clear, accessible, and specific. It should address the child or young person’s needs, the special educational provision required to meet those needs, and the outcomes which this provision will aim to achieve.
If any of the advice you receive does not address needs, provision, and outcomes, you should complain to the local authority. This is incredibly important, as the outcome of the EHCP will depending directly on the advice given and information gathered.
What role do parents, children and/or young people play?
As well as the duties relating to evidence, the local authority must:
- Consult with the parent, child, or young person. They must consider their views, wishes and feelings
- Engage the child and the child’s parent or the young person, ensuring that they can participate in decisions
- Minimise disruption for the child, the child’s parent, the young person, and their family.
How long will this process take?
Anyone who is asked for information and advice should respond within 6 weeks. This is a legal duty which must be complied with; it cannot be avoided because there is a long waiting list or because there are staffing shortages. If a local authority is genuinely unable to obtain one of the necessary pieces of advice during the time frame, they would be expected to obtain an independent report in its place.
The local authority must notify the parent or young person of their decision whether they will issue a plan within a maximum of 16 weeks from the request for assessment.
What will happen when the local authority decides?
If the local authority decides not to issue an EHC plan, it must tell the parent or young person within 16 weeks of the date the request for an assessment was made. The parent or young person can then appeal this decision to the SEND Tribunal. In this instance legal aid may be available depending on the case and the claimant’s income.
If the LA decides to issue an EHC plan, it will first send out a draft plan for the parent or young person to review and comment on. It should then send the final EHC plan to the parent or young person within 20 weeks from the date the assessment was requested. To meet this deadline, they would need to send out the draft plan a maximum of 14 weeks from the date the assessment was requested.