An EHCP does what??? Are you sure?

When I hear of a tribunal appeal that is for ‘placement only’, I let out a sigh and my heart sinks just a little bit more. Even though statements have been around now for two complete generations, it’s still obvious that precious few professionals involved in the system have taken the time & trouble to actually explain the statement’s purpose to the family involved. We now have EHCPs and still, few people seem to understand its purpose.

Way too often, the piece of paper is seen to be the end-goal, or if you have that piece of paper, the school itself becomes the end-goal. Without explanation, parents are set to repeat the same games of ping-pong that the generation before them have, and schools/LAs will let them (I am generalising here, as wonderful schools for inclusion remain few & far between).

The purpose of an EHCP is quite, quite simple. It is a legal document that sets out exactly what the student needs that is in addition to, or different from, that generally made for typically developing peers of the same age in mainstream. The only ‘extra bit’ to add on here is that once it has been determined that the student requires something additional or different, all of the student’s SEND must be set out, regardless of whether provision is of the type generally found in mainstream for peers of the same age.

Some LAs will try to argue that 6k must first be spent, or that ‘assess, plan, do, review’ must first have been carried out. Not true, as a) the additional or different is value-free, the test is against ‘generally made for a typically developing peer of the same age’ and b) the test is against ‘generally made for a typically developing peer of the same age’. Ok, so I repeated myself there, but for some children, it’s obvious that their SEND is not connected to their exposure to good quality teaching. I still can’t quite believe it when parents tell me the LA wants to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to their child with Down’s syndrome, or insist on a graduated approach first – or even try and force the parents or school to provide an EP report!!!

I am often asked if I can point people in the direction of a ‘good EHCP for ASD/DS/CP/SpLD’ etc. Erm, no. To do so is akin to suggesting that all children with X, Y or Z are exactly the same, that they do not have unique personalities or live with different life opportunities, and that their ‘condition’ is completely static. No, every child is unique, there is no generic EHCP.

The place to start with an EHCP is always section K, the reports. It is the reports that establish the needs (B), which drives the provision (F), which informs the outcomes (E). Anyone who tries to argue that you take an alphabetical approach has clearly not understood the C&F Act, the SENCoP or SEN Regulations. I’m not going to go into the other sections as only sections B, F and I are appealable through tribunal.

At this point I’m going to throw another oft-heard quote into the mix – my child’s statement/EHCP was written for mainstream/special. Again, this shows a lack of understanding of the purpose of the statement/EHCP. It is written for the child, no discussion about type of school can or should take place until parts B and F are complete. After all, the assumption is always for mainstream, the test being ‘generally made…. within mainstream’

You always need reports, because it is from those reports that you establish a child’s needs. Remember, without identifying what a child’s needs are, you can’t establish what they need that is in addition to, or different from’. So, reports in hand, needs can be set out. Next comes the provision, what interventions/adaptations etc are required, in order for the child to a) attend school and b) access the curriculum. Note there are two parts here, you can’t access the curriculum or achieve if you can’t get in the door/classroom etc. It is this ‘disability’ part that LAs often neglect. Yes, the student may well be an A* student, but they are currently locked in their bedroom with the curtains drawn…..

When section B is complete, section F is underway. F is all those bits that are ‘in addition to or different from’. Please, don’t agree to ‘a programme to improve A/B/C…’ That does not set out anything. ‘A programme of literacy’ may as well say ‘will be doing GCSE English’. A colleague asked for an Upper Tier tribunal citation a couple of days ago, which clarifies the situation where vague descriptions are concerned http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC/2016/9.html&query=(SEN)

If you launch an appeal for school only, what will that school actually be providing? School-only is fine if you want a like-for-like swap, e.g. you wanted the mainstream school 5 minutes up the road & the LA gave you the one 5 minutes down the road, and both schools are equal. If the local schools each have 2000 pupils, 30 per class and your child can’t function in groups of more than, say, 12, section B is going to have to identify this need and section F will have to state ‘groups of no more than 12’, because that is part of in addition to, or different from. Arguing that a specialist school (maintained or independent) is required without any supporting evidence in B&F is unlikely to end well. Or, let me put it another way, is getting the physical environment enough if there are zero interventions? Just because the school has a SaLT or OT does not mean that your child will access SaLT or OT if it is not in section F. It will not matter if the school is state-funded or private.

I’m going to prattle on a bit more about B/F/I in my next Special Needs Jungle post in a few week’s time.

By the way of a P.S., I was given a copy of the government’s survey into how well the EHCP process is going. I have some thoughts:

  • Given what I have written above, do you think that all parents understand the EHCP document & its purpose?
  • Do you think that parents with learning difficulties will be able to access the survey?
  • If parents with LD use an advocate, does the first bullet point come back into play again?
  • What is it with ‘feelings’? Are they a SMART target?
  • Like a game of ‘Where’s Wally?’ how many examples of examining legal compliance/accountability did you find?

Just a few thoughts there……

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25 thoughts on “An EHCP does what??? Are you sure?

  1. Recently received the first draft of my son’s and it is appalling. Doesn’t mention that he is a full time wheelchair user or that he needs two people to hoist him to the toilet. So you can probably imagine how little is in the rest. Many parts under ‘provision’ are little more than tips as to ways to do things. One even suggests a way to encourage him to put his toys away. He can’t sit unaided!

    Interested to read that placement does not play a part till after needs are identified. My son is currently home educated and that seems to be affecting the way they are utting his EHCP together.

    I am exhausted by the process. When he was in school he had a Statement which provided him with two staff at all times, just for him. This EHCP draft mentions “high level of support” a few times but has nothing exact in it.

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    1. It is quite sad that your LA has ignored the most basic principles of an EHCP – and it is unsurprising that parents have an extremely high success rate in tribunal.
      You don’t make the distinction between whether you are electively home educating, or EOTAS (LA funded), but either way, free legal advice is out there from IPSEA or SOS!SEN. They can explain your rights & responsibilities under each & what to do next.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. We EHE and my son has an EHCP. It does affect the way the EHCP is written, because there’s no point outlining the provision he would receive in school. It outlines what they will provide for him at home.

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      1. That’s a personal choice & absolutely fine if you’re happy with that. Many people make personal arrangements with their LAs – the issues arise if one party decides they want to alter the arrangement and the other disagrees. I’m just pointing out the purpose of the EHCP & what should happen, reality is another thing!

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      2. But it’s an important point, because often LAs will tell parents that there is no provision for them if the EHE, but cases like ours are starting to trickle through and show that this isn’t true.

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  2. Neither. I don’t see it as EHE as we don’t feel there is a choice. He was seriously injured at school in an accident which would have been avoided if the Head was not such an obnoxious person.

    Scope had said the fire doors should be wired into the fire alarm system so that they could stay open. We had asked at the end of term meeting and been told it was “a low priority job”. A few days into the next term my son was injured by those doors suffering a dislocated hip. Job was fixed in six days of the accident.

    We don’t feel he fits in at mainstream or SN (only one SN school in our area) and home ed meets his needs. He has high care needs and complex disabilities and I don’t have plans to send him to school but the document has to be in place in case we need him to go to school or in case he wants to.

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    1. In short, an EHCP is a statement (Education) with a bit of Health & Social Care tagged on. The idea is that it kind of becomes a passport that you can take around to E, H & SC. In reality, you could have done that with a statement anyway.
      The main change is that a duty has been placed on H&SC to work reciprocally with Education, responding within set timescales.
      The criteria is arguably a bit wider than under a statement. Pretty much all the legal stuff from a parent’s perspective is the same, existing case law carries over as the wording between the Education Act & the Children & Families Act is pretty much the same.

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  3. I’m waiting to receive draft copy but am having trouble getting SEN case worker and LA ed phycologist to be more specific .we have lots wrote into provision and objectives but they will not quantify how much is needed and who will deliver support.they know I don’t think he will cope in mainstream secondary and have said he my son as complex needs in all four areas of Sen and will need substantial and increasing support.i want a independent specialist school

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  4. I’d see if you can get to speak to someone at IPSEA or SOS!SEN to talk you through options. IPSEA has moved to a call back service. You may need to keep checking as spaces open up at different times – I think there’s a link to the office if you have problems booking.

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  5. Brilliant blog! Our last ECHP (MOCS in Melksham) said absolutely nothing about my son’s needs, did not refer to any specialist reports (no specialists, not even his tutor, keyworker or any TAs were at the meeting) and no details of provision was given. No goal setting, no nothing. I complained and was fobbed off. I then spent hours painstakingly going through every single piece of paper, putting together a 16 page medical and SEN history (including a tribunal case result) and a list of problems with the ECHP. I have been given a 1 hour slot with the senco, new LA SEN worker and our SALT on 12th October. I’m not hopeful of a good outcome and fully expect to have to start Tribunal proceedings again. I think I will send this blog to the meeting participants however and see if that has any impact! Sooooo frustrated!!!

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    1. The playing field isn’t as it should be, way too many bumps for a decent game of cricket.
      The cited piece of case law has far more sway than my blog ever could, I’m just making the introduction!

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  6. My 22 year old son has just had his EHCP turned down because he is makong good progress at his college. I plan to appeal on the grounds that the reason he is progressing g so well is because we as his parents are supporting him financially to take part in enrichment out of college on a weekly basis. He surely should be supported in his own right as a young adult independently of his family?

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  7. My sons EHCP has taken 18 months so far from our very first conversion meeting bk in 2014, least to say it caused so much problem with the school going by a drafted statement causing my sons needs not being met and me having to now home educate, still having to send draft after draft back as bits was missing or very out of date! LA seem to not care at all and schools haven’t got a clue breaking the law by going with his 1st draft EHCP in stead of his current statement had us shocked! Fingers crossed things improve or there’s no hope. Wish me luck I’m waiting for our 4th draft EHCP let’s hope that get it right this time…..

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    1. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! You never know, it may have been picked up by an LA officer who knows their job? If not, sadly, it’s a case of getting a bad one finalised & appeal it with SENDIST. Why does it always seem to be such a battle?

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  8. Thankyou for this blog. I have been trawling through my fb groups for months trying to get this info from other parents to help with my decision on wether to apply for an EHCP assessment for my 6 year old now EHE son. The LEA and social services have said if I want any help/support at all then I have to go down the EHCP route, but the implications are just far too tiresom and challanging for me to even dare start the process. Since EHE him 7 months ago it has been so peaceful, not having to fight anyone, the 5 years previous made me really ill, I know that long term he, myself and my younger son need that support as we have no friends/family to help out but I just feel anymore fighting could tip me over the edge. Don’t know what to do for the best.

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    1. I always recommend taking some free legal advice so you can talk this through with someone impartial & in the know. IPSEA & SOS!SEN can help. There are EHE websites about, such as Ed Yourself that you may like too.

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  9. Great blog, my son, young person (YP) over 18yrs has been without education provision since May 2015 and his school placement was withdraw November 2015. He is currently going through transfer from SEN to EHCP with first draft. As he has been unlawfully out of school so long, LA are not getting any reports so the needs, provision and outcomes fully of vague terms. I really don’t want to waste time, give LA ultimatum to obtain reports or finalise EHC plan to take LA to tribunal. LA wont answer why there are not providing education according to SEN so is there a loop hole in law that LA is availing of by removing placement?

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    1. Problem as challenge could mean a Judicial Review if a SENDIST appeal isn’t suitable. At 18, a young person may be eligible for Legal Aid in their own right, which could be useful for your son. There’s one central gateway now via gov.uk

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  10. Our son’s ehcp process did not at all follow guidelines (creation, approach etc) , nor meet the timelines. The delivery of the final plan only happened upon threat of high court action. When we received it they blatantly altered content so it no longer reflected the evidence we submitted or our views! Unfortunately for us, this consistent negligence carried on into the Tribunal process where they continued to ignore court orders, not name a school placement nor provide a reasonable response to the appeal so we could understand their position.
    The tribunal case is over and a decision order ruled in our favour.
    You would think it would be over? But it’s not! We are again faced with threat of high court action because they have failed to deliver the amended final order in accordance with the Tribunal Decision! The school named is ready, (our choice of school) my son is ready but we continue to wait and he continues to be denied an education. Despite the La knowing he’d have no school placement (for a year they’ve known) come sept 16.

    It’s all quite depressing and disheartening … the amount of people who have said this new system is a reformed system, I shudder to think what it was like before!! Our LA is also a Trust put in by the DFE to improve services .. again, a thoroughly awful thought of how the operation was beforehand!

    we intend to complain to dfe , ofsted and ombudsman. But I feel the system does not have sufficient governance and accountability. Why must the only recourse for parents to force the LA to do their statutory minimum be court? Costing the already affected families more money and stress?
    Why aren’t there more preventative fines or penalties built into the Process if the LA do not undertake the framework correctly? Without those the LA will continue to run and deliver without impunity.
    Happy to participate in any future studies/surveys/ forums you hold!

    Liked by 1 person

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