The Education, Health and Care (EHC) Pathway describes the process of assessment and planning for any child or young person who has, or may have, special educational needs which are long term, complex and require additional support to access the educational opportunities available from early years providers, schools and post 16 institutions.
Since 1st April 2013, schools have been expected to provide additional SEN support for their pupils which costs up to the nationally prescribed threshold, currently £6,000. For those children and young people requiring provision over and above the £6,000, an EHC Assessment may be undertaken to determine their needs and identify appropriate provision. There is more information on funding in Chapter 2.
A referral for an assessment will usually be made by a school or post 16 institution. However, parents (or an advocate on their behalf) and other professionals can also make a referral. Young people over the age of 16 (or an advocate on their behalf) also have a right to request an EHC assessment.
The decision to draw up an EHC Plan will depend on the severity of a child’s/young person’s needs and the steps previously taken to try to meet those needs. The referral should identify where evidence of the child’s/young person’s needs may be found and the provision/support previously offered. The referral form, with further information and guidance, together with all the documents that make up the Referral Pack can be found on the EHC Pathway page.
An assessment of the child/young person's needs will accompany the referral. This assessment will describe outcomes for the child/young person and provision needed to meet the outcomes. The information submitted with the referral should be as up to date as possible.
Best practice would suggest that schools and settings will be able to show evidence of Educational Psychology involvement in planning intervention for the child/young person, as part of a graduated approach.
Following a request for an EHC Assessment, the EHC Panel meet to:
- Check that the referral meets the severity and process criteria
- Identify who will undertake a key working/first point of contact role
- Agree what additional advice might be sought and arrange for this to take place.
This flowchart outlines the EHC Pathway, together with the timescales for each stage of the process.
11.2 EHC Summary Assessment
The Local Authority’s expectation would be that referrers would gather evidence over time, whilst ensuring that all evidence remains relevant. However, once the EHC Referral Group has agreed that the assessment should go ahead all the professionals involved with the child/young person will be asked to either:
- Confirm that their advice is current and identify appropriate outcomes, or
- provide up to date advice with outcomes to be sought.
A Professional Summary form is available for professionals to provide updated information and can be found on the in the 'related documents' section of the EHC Pathway webpage. The intention would be that if good practice is followed then the submission of a referral should not be onerous.
Once the EHC assessment information is complete, a Plan Co-ordinator will consider all the advice and draw up a Summary Assessment, which will be a summary of:
- Those assessments undertaken prior to the referral and any additional assessments undertaken as a result of the referral
- The child/young person’s needs across education, health and care
- The specific outcomes to be achieved and the provision to meet those outcomes
- The views of the child/young person and their family on how they would like services to be delivered.
11.3 Key Working
The Local Authority is committed to ensuring that a Key Working approach is adopted across agencies located within Education, Health and Care and as such families, children and young people should have a point of contact for support, information and guidance throughout the EHC assessment and planning process.
It is essential that children, young people and their families are provided with opportunities to submit their views, wishes and aspirations as part of the process and are supported to do this in a way which is accessible for them. Children, young people and their families should be supported to exercise choice and control over person centred outcomes and planning should be completed in collaboration with them. Key Working processes ensure that these opportunities are provided throughout the EHC process.
The level of Key Working available to families, children and young people should be determined on an individual basis and be responsive to their presenting needs across Education, Health and Care. The EHC Key Working Coordinator will establish this in consultation with the EHC Panel members and the family directly.
A description of the full Key Working offer can be found in Chapter 5 of the “EHC Pathway Guidance” which can be found in the 'related documents' on the EHC Pathway web page.
The following bullet points are a summary of the main features of Key Working:
- All EHC referrals will have a designated EHC Plan Coordinator and Assistant EHC Plan Coordinator
- In some instances, the Key Working role may be undertaken by the Assistant EHC Plan Coordinator who will coordinate the support available to the family and act as a point of contact
- The Local Authority will endeavour to identify a Key Worker who is deemed best placed to support the family i.e. a familiar worker, therefore the person best placed to support may not be a designated Key Worker
- The EHC Key Working Coordinator will be a point of contact and advice for families and professionals
- Key Working training and development opportunities will be made available for professionals in a Key Working capacity
- All families and young people will be offered opportunity to access the local ‘Independent Support’ service
- In cases of complex health or social care needs, Key Working may need to be undertaken by a professional from an appropriate discipline
- In some instances the EHC Plan Coordinator may become involved in a Key Working capacity earlier than at the summary assessment stage.
11.4 The Role of the EHC Panel
The function of the EHC Panel is to support the Local Authority in its decisions to:
- Accept a referral and recommend whether an EHC Assessment should be undertaken
- Identify any further information or assessment required to supplement the referral information
- Identify key personnel in developing the assessment
- Approve the Summary Assessment and agree outcomes to be specified
- Recommend whether an EHC Plan is required
- Recommend levels of support
- Determine an indicative budget based on all the assessment information with consideration for safeguarding and clinical governance
- Determine if a personal budget is an option and agree inclusions, exclusions and those forms of support which could be negotiated
- Sign off EHC Plans and Personal Support Agreements.
The EHC Panel consists of a range of senior professionals including:
- Representative from Bridgewater Community NHS Trust
- Practice Manager, Targeted Disability Service, Social Care
- SEND Assessment & Commissioning Manager
- Primary, Secondary and Special School Representatives
- Educational Psychologist
- Representative from Targeted Education Support Service (TESS)
- Key Worker Co-ordinator.
In addition EHC Plan Co-ordinators will attend to provide further information/clarification if requested. This may include information additional to that being presented.
11.5 The EHC Plan
The EHC Plan is the product of a co-ordinated assessment for children and young people with complex needs aged 0-25 (16-25 year olds in further education and training where special educational needs are the trigger).
The purpose of an EHC Assessment and Plan is to make special educational provision which meets the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure improved outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood. The Plan describes the child or young person’s interests and aspirations; their special needs in education, health and social care; the outcomes we want them to achieve and the provision needed to meet their needs.
The key things to know about an EHC Assessment and Plan are:
- On the EHC Pathway parents, carers and professionals are able to consider a child’s or young person’s needs across education, health and social care
- The assessment will bring together all the information that is held about a child or young person to get a complete picture of all their needs
- Parents/carers may have a named person to help them through the process. Someone in school may have a role in this support
- Young people’s and family’s views of the child or young person’s needs and their hopes for the future are key to the process
- The planning meeting to draw up the EHC Plan involves parents, the young person, where appropriate, and professionals who have assessed the child or young person
- EHC Plans will be personalised. That means that all the child’s or young person’s individual needs in education, health and care will be considered and the plan will then be shaped to meet their personal circumstances
- The resources that are available will be used flexibly to allow families to make some choices about the provision their child/young person receives
- A Personal Budget may be available to families to choose how to support the child or young person.
- The time taken to produce an EHC Plan is 20 weeks
- The EHC Plan has protection in law. The education provision set out in the EHC Plan has to be provided
- Parents have the right of appeal to a tribunal if they are not happy with the education provision.
11.6 Personalisation and Personal Budgets
Personalisation is at the heart of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) legislation. Personal budgets are one element of Personalisation.
Personalisation is about putting children, young people and their families at the centre of the Education, Health and Care (EHC) process. It means starting with the person as an individual with strengths, preferences and aspirations, identifying their needs and making choices about how and when they are supported to live their lives.
There are a number of ways in which personalisation is developed. These include:
- Person-centred approaches where disabled children and their families are put at the centre of processes, enabling them to express their views, wishes and feelings and be included in decision making
- Personalising the support that families receive by working in partnership with services across education, health and social care
- Funding mechanisms through the use of direct payments and personal budgets
- Brokerage support, to support families to develop a personalised and creative Personal Support Agreement that describes how they will use their indicative budget to meet the agreed outcomes.
What is a Personal Budget?
A Personal Budget is an allocation of money identified to provide support for an eligible person to meet their identified needs, which must support the outcomes identified in the EHC Plan.
Young people and parents of children can request a personal budget once the Local Authority has confirmed that it will prepare a draft EHC Plan. Parents and young people may also request a personal budget if they already have an EHC Plan and during a statutory review of an existing EHC Plan. An EHC Plan is the product of a co-ordinated assessment which specifies the outcomes sought for the child or young person across education, health and social care. The EHC Plan will clearly state which outcomes can be met by a Personal Budget (if a Personal Budget is agreed).
Depending on the needs of the individual and local eligibility criteria, the scope of the budget will vary. At present, a personal budget may consist of elements of funding from education, health and social care. In the main this will be:
- For education – element 3 (top-up funding)
- For health – Continuing Care funding
- For social care – Specialist provision as assessed by the Targeted Disability Service (TDS)
More information on Personal Budgets can be found in the “Personalisation and Personal Budgets Guidance” which can be found in the 'related documents' on the Personalisation and Personal Budgets page.
11.7 Reviewing the EHC Plan
EHC plans should be used to actively monitor children and young people’s progress towards their outcomes and longer term aspirations. They must be reviewed by the local authority as a minimum every 12 months.
Reviews should be carried out using person-centred planning principles and must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan. The review must also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.
Reviews should also:
- Gather and assess information so that it can be used by early years settings, schools or colleges to support the child or young person’s progress and their access to teaching and learning
- Review the special educational provision made for the child or young person to ensure it is being effective in ensuring access to teaching and learning and good progress
- Review the health and social care provision made for the child or young person and its effectiveness in ensuring good progress towards outcomes
- Consider the continuing appropriateness of the EHC plan in the light of the child or young person’s progress during the previous year or changed circumstances and whether changes are required including any changes to outcomes, enhanced provision, change of educational establishment or whether the EHC plan should be discontinued
- Set new short-term outcomes and how to achieve them
- Review any interim targets set by the early years provider, school or college or other education provider.
The specific requirements of conducting an Annual Review are laid out in a document which can be found in the “Annual Review Process and Timeline” which is on the EHC Pathway page with all the relevant accompanying documents.
If you need more information about the EHC Assessment Process please contact the SEND Team on 01942 486136 for advice prior to making any referrals.
11.8 Transition between Phases of Education
Transitions between phases of education are key points in a child’s or young person’s life. When an EHC Plan is in place it is a requirement of the Code of Practice that the plan must be reviewed and amended in sufficient time, prior to a child or young person moving, to allow for planning for and, where necessary, commissioning of support and provision at the new setting. This means that the Review must be completed by 15th February in the calendar year in which the transfer is going to take place. (If the transition is from a school to a post-16 institution, or between post-16 institutions, the Review has to be completed by 31st March of the year of transition.)
It is vital, therefore, that all settings should plan, at the beginning of the Academic Year, when the Annual Review for each child or young person with a Statement of SEN or EHC Plan is to take place. This will enable the setting to even out the workload for staff and ensure that statutory deadlines are met.
All reviews taking place from year 9 at the latest and onwards must include a focus on preparing for adulthood, including employment, independent living and participation in society. Review meetings taking place in Year 9 should have a particular focus on considering options and choices for the next phase of education and schools should invite representatives of post-16 institutions to these review meetings, particularly where the child or young person has expressed a desire to attend a particular institution.
In the period until April 2018 there will be a gradual process of converting Statements of SEN to EHC Plans. This conversion will take place at key transition points which are laid out in the local authority’s Transition Plan . Settings will be informed at the beginning of each academic year which statements are to be converted to EHC Plans during the year. The process will involve carrying out a “Transfer Review” and is described in the Annual Review Process and Timeline on the Local Offer website.