Once the threshold of necessity is crossed, as a value judgment based on the evidence and in the light of the case law noted above, then an EHC Plan must be provided. The ECH Plan is described in these terms in the statute:
(2) For the purposes of this Part, an EHC plan is a plan specifying—
(a) the child’s or young person’s special educational needs;
(b) the outcomes sought for him or her;
(c) the special educational provision required by him or her;
(d) any health care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in him or her having special educational needs;
(e) in the case of a child or a young person aged under 18, any social care provision which must be made for him or her by the local authority as a result of section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 ;
(f) any social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs, to the extent that the provision is not already specified in the plan under paragraph (e).
(3) An EHC plan may also specify other health care and social care provision reasonably required by the child or young person.
There is no statutory form, or pro forma template which is simply completed. Instead the detail of what is in the plan or must be in the plan, is derived from the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, in particular regulation 12 which states:
(1) When preparing an EHC plan a local authority must set out—
(a) the views, interests and aspirations of the child and his parents or the young person (section A);
(b) the child or young person’s special educational needs (section B);
(c) the child or young person’s health care needs which relate to their special educational needs (section C);
(d) the child or young person’s social care needs which relate to their special educational needs or to a disability (section D);
(e) the outcomes sought for him or her (section E);
(f) the special educational provision required by the child or young person (section F);
(g) any health care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs (section G);
(h) (i) any social care provision which must be made for the child or young person as a result of section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (section H1);
(ii) any other social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having special educational needs (section H2);
(i) the name of the school, maintained nursery school, post-16 institution or other institution to be attended by the child or young person and the type of that institution or, where the name of a school or other institution is not specified in the EHC plan, the type of school or other institution to be attended by the child or young person (section I); and
(j) where any special educational provision is to be secured by a direct payment, the special educational needs and outcomes to be met by the direct payment (section J), and each section must be separately identified.
(2) The health care provision specified in the EHC Plan in accordance with paragraph (1)(g) must be agreed by the responsible commissioning body.
(3) Where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, the EHC plan must include within the special educational provision, health care provision and social care provision specified, provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living.
(4) The advice and information obtained in accordance with regulation 6(1) must be set out in appendices to the EHC plan (section K).
Advice on writing the EHC Plan is contained in the SEND Code of Practice:
9.61 The following principles and requirements apply to local authorities and those contributing to the preparation of an EHC plan:
- Decisions about the content of EHC plans should be made openly and collaboratively with parents, children and young people. It should be clear how the child or young person has contributed to the plan and how their views are reflected in it
- EHC plans should describe positively what the child or young person can do and has achieved
- EHC plans should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible to parents, children, young people, providers and practitioners. They should be written so they can be understood by professionals in any local authority
- In preparing the EHC plan the local authority must consider how best to achieve the outcomes sought for the child or young person. The local authority must take into account the evidence received as part of the EHC needs assessment
- EHC plans must specify the outcomes sought for the child or young person. Outcomes in EHC plans should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound). See the section on ‘Outcomes’ (paragraph 9.64 onwards) for detailed guidance on outcomes.
- Where a young person or parent is seeking an innovative or alternative way to receive their support services – particularly through a Personal Budget, but not exclusively so – then the planning process should include the consideration of those solutions with support and advice available to assist the parent or young person in deciding how best to receive their support
- EHC plans should show how education, health and care provision will be co-ordinated wherever possible to support the child or young person to achieve their outcomes. The plan should also show how the different types of provision contribute to specific outcomes
- EHC plans should be forward looking – for example, anticipating, planning and commissioning for important transition points in a child or young person’s life, including planning and preparing for their transition to adult life.
- EHC plans should describe how informal (family and community) support as well as formal support from statutory agencies can help in achieving agreed outcomes
- EHC plans should have a review date (which should link to other regular reviews, including the child in need plan or child protection plan reviews if appropriate)
The timescales for preparation of the plan are set out in the Regulations in particular regulation 13 which states:
(1) When a local authority sends a draft plan to a child’s parent or young person it must—
(a) give them at least 15 days, beginning with the day on which the draft plan was served, in which to—
(i) make representations about the content of the draft plan, and to request that a particular school or other institution be named in the plan; and
(ii) require the local authority to arrange a meeting between them and an officer of the local authority at which the draft plan can be discussed; and
(b) advise them where they can find information about the schools and colleges that are available for the child or young person to attend.
(2) A local authority must send the finalised EHC plan to—
(a) the child’s parent or to the young person;
(b) the governing body, proprietor or principal of any school, other institution or provider of early years education named in the EHC plan and;
(c) to the responsible commissioning body,
as soon as practicable, and in any event within 20 weeks of the local authority receiving a request for an EHC needs assessment in accordance with section 36(1) of the Act, or of the local authority becoming responsible for the child in accordance with section 24 of the Act.
(3) The local authority need not comply with the time limit referred to in paragraph (2) if it is impractical for any of the reasons set out in regulation 10(4)(a) to (d).
When the plan is finalised:
(1) The finalised EHC plan must be in the form of the draft plan sent in accordance with regulation 13(1), or in a form modified in the light of the representations made in accordance with that regulation.
(2) When sending a copy of the finalised EHC plan to the child’s parent or the young person in accordance with section 39(8)(a) or 40(5)(a) of the Act, the local authority must notify them of—
(a) their right to appeal matters within the EHC plan in accordance with section 51(2)(c) of the Act;
(b) the time limits for doing so;
(c) the information concerning mediation, set out in regulation 32; and
(d) the availability of—
(i) disagreement resolution services; and
(ii) advice and information about matters relating to the special educational needs of children and young people.
Of the contents of the Plan, sections B, F and I are likely to prove the most contentious and it is to those sections that I shall turn my attention in the next several posts.