Education Health and Care (EHC) plans are replacing statements of SEN, and bringing along some changes with them. Naturally, if you are a parent or guardian of a child with special educational needs, you will be very keen to understand what exactly will be changing.
Therefore here is a breakdown of the main points you need to know about the changes that are taking place.
How does the EHC plan differ to a statement?
- Whilst a statement of SEN only lasts until the young person is eighteen, an EHC plan continues until they turn 26. This means that the new plan provides longer term support. This is especially important for those who have special educational needs, as often this cause them to take a bit longer to progress in life and they may also stay in education longer.
- The EHC plan takes in to consideration the young person’s needs across not only education but also health and care. Each plan will also be individualised to better suit the specific needs of each young person.
- In response to parents reporting that they found the statementing process didn’t support them enough, the EHC plan provides parents of children with SEN with a key worker to provide support throughout the process.
- There is now more focus on the child/young person’s views and future goals, in order to give them more say on their individual EHC plan.
- Within the EHC plans, there are now specific dates attached to goals and actions, in order to ensure that outcomes are achieved by certain times.
- Instead of all resources being directed to school, they are being used more flexibly, allowing families to have more of a say concerning what support their child receives.
- A personal budget has been introduced for families who are eligible; in order to allow them to support their child in whichever way they feel is best.
- Things will now move faster. Whist a statement took 26 weeks to produce, an EHC plan only takes 20 weeks.
What if my child already has a statement?
The legal criteria for issuing an EHC plan are the same as those for a statement, so if your child was statemented before September 2014, they will continue to receive this support whilst they are transferred on to an EHC plan. Your child’s school will communicate with you about this process and will attempt to make the change at a logical point in your child’s education for example; at the start of a new academic year, when starting a new school or at a planned annual review. By 2018 all existing statements should have been transferred to EHC plans.
What is available for those not eligible for an EHC plan?
SEN support has now replaced School Action/School Action Plus. This is the support available for young people who have special educational needs, but who are not eligible for an EHC plan. SEN support can include a special learning programme, extra help from a learning support assistant and supporting your child with physical or personal care difficulties such as eating. Basically, whatever your child’s special educational needs are, they will be catered for under SEN support.
As a final point, feel free to contact your child’s school for more information about the transfer to EHC plans. Teachers and support staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. After all, the new EHC plan aims to give parents of young people with SEN more voice, so don’t hesitate to use yours.