Top five tips when applying for an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP)
You have decided applying for an EHCP is the right approach for your child but it can still feel like a daunting and opaque process. Here is a list of things to remember to help you in the right direction.
What you and your child want and need is key to the whole process
The law puts you and your child at the heart of the process. It allows you to make the request for an EHCP assessment personally (if you want to but school can instead if you prefer), it states that you must be consulted throughout the process and that there needs to be a legitimate reason to refuse your choice of school for your child.
Evidence, evidence, evidence
At every stage of the EHCP process, evidence will determine outcome: whether the local authority assess your child, whether your child gets an EHCP, what support your child receives and where your child goes to school. The first stage of the EHCP assessment is about gathering evidence from the relevant experts (for example, teachers, paediatricians, educational psychologists, occupational therapists) and the contents of an EHCP will reflect the evidence obtained. The law states that certain experts must provide advice and there is discretion to seek evidence from others depending on the needs of the child. When making the initial request for an assessment, attach any letters, notes, emails or reports that explain your child’s needs (educational, health or social) and if you feel strongly that certain types of experts need to be involved in the process, make that clear in the request for assessment and explain why.
Stay in the driving seat!
Help keep the process on track. By law the EHCP assessment process is 20 weeks long and can involve many people. Whilst it is the local authority who by law are responsible for completing the assessment, it helps to keep a close eye on deadlines in the process and follow up straight away if things are not happening when they should. Check that everyone who you believe should be providing evidence has agreed to do so and is aware of the deadline. Try to arrange a meeting with each of them so you have an opportunity to provide detailed parental comments and address any queries they may have. Be clear with them about what you feel are your child’s needs, the support they require and the type of school that would best support them and why. The more help you provide those assessing your child the better the assessment will be because…
You are the expert!
We mums, dads and carers know our children better than anyone else – we have spent the most time with them, we care about them more than anyone, we see things experts will not have the chance to notice in a short assessment or formal setting where your child may not feel able to relax and answer detailed questions. Your insight is invaluable. Make sure you speak up.
If you need help, ask!
Each local authority is required to publish information on their website about their “Local Offer” which will include information on the EHCP process, as well as details of your local Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS), who can provide advice. You can also speak to the Special Educational Needs co-ordinator at your child’s school.
Sometimes, you may feel more detailed, bespoke and specialist help is needed. For this, we can guide you step by step through the process to ensure your child receives the education they are entitled to so they can achieve their best possible outcomes.
If you would like advice on any aspect of the EHCP process or SEND law, please do get in touch, or listen to our podcast episode.
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