Tuesday 12 September 2017

The five things to know if you are thinking about an Education Health & Care Plan

the 5 things to know before seeking an EHCP

In a few days Jane will start reception.  Our last child is off to proper school.  And it feels a bit odd. Yes it's partly because she is our last and I'm going not going to be running around after her each day, but it feels all too fluid because we've not had to fight for her education.  She's our first child entering school without an Education Health & Care Plan (EHCP) or what used to called a Statement of SEN (Special Educational Needs).

I've learned lots whilst getting David in to his specialist unit and getting the support for Anthony, his older brother, via an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).  I'm not a legal or council expert, just a parent whose gone through the process a few times and if you think your child might need extra support, here's a few things worth knowing.

1. Firstly, there are systems in place to help and support children in regular mainstream schools before you need to seek help from your borough or apply for an EHCP

Every school gets a special educational needs(SEN) budget to spend within the school to help and support their pupils. It's different between schools as to how this is spent. Some could spend a lot of it on pencil grips and wobble cushions. I've also heard another school basically funding a 1:1 support for one of their pupils. It totally depends on each schools application of this budget to meet their pupils needs.

So if you've got concerns about your child's educational needs ask their teacher or the schools SENCo (special educational needs coordinator). They can create an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child and you may find their needs can be met without further help from the borough.

Additionally, when you seek an EHCP, the first thing you are actually requesting is that your borough assess your child to see if they need one. So knowing what support they are currently getting whether at nursery or school is essential.  If your child is not getting this built in support from school, then your borough may turn your request for assessment down as it's possible their needs could be met within school already.

2. You do not need to have a diagnosis to get an EHCP

This is something I've seen a lot on social media. Parents desperate to get a diagnosis so they can get help for their kids at school. It can take months, even years to get a diagnosis of some conditions. The National Autistic Society have a campaign 'Why the wait' because in some places diagnosis takes so long. Some parents of children with very rare conditions have told me that actually the diagnosis didn't help in the end because no one really understood their condition anyway.

The good news is that an EHCP is not reliant on a diagnosis - it is reliant on your child's educational needs. Our eldest son Anthony, started school with a SEN statement (the predecessor of an EHCP) and a diagnosis of ASD. Another boy in the same year started with the same support via a statement but he didn't actually get a diagnosis until four years later.

What you need is to be able to show your child needs more support than is currently available to them. Your child may be accessing school help already but needs more support or they may be getting occupational or speech and language support or something else. Usually a child will already be on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) too.

All this is the evidence to support your request for assessment for an EHCP. A diagnosis may add to this evidence but is certainly not essential. It also takes quite a few months after requesting an assessment for an EHCP to actually get one so you can send in your confirmed diagnosis later if you get it.

If your school are helping and what you are actually after is a diagnosis, then take your concerns to your GP.

3. You do not need the support of your school to apply for an EHCP

I see this one a lot too. A school is being unsupportive whilst a parent is pulling their hair out. You do not need the support of your child's school or setting to apply for an EHCP. It helps to have the school support your request for assistance but it is not necessary. We requested the assessment for our eldest's SEN statement. We applied with our nursery for the EHCP for David.

It can be harder to show that your child needs more support if the school are not providing some already. However, the borough are likely to respond saying that the school should be providing certain services and this then highlights to everyone what the school can and should be doing to support your child.

4. There is nothing wrong with having extra SEN support for your kid

Some parents have raised concerns that their kids will be labelled if they get extra help whether that's by the school SEN budget or an EHCP. Lots of things that can be done either via the school or an EHCP will go unnoticed by their classmates. It could be anything from working in smaller groups or sitting nearer the teacher to help with concentration to handing out textbooks so your child gets a movement break.

There are different statistics but figures saying between 20-50% of kids in primary school have some extra SEN support.

What's important is that your child gets the education they are entitled too. Everyone's different and our very busy and pressed education system doesn't fit everyone. The system can need tweaking for your child can access it.

Without support Anthony would not be able to access the teaching on his classroom, but with it he keeps making progress at an appropriate and enjoys school.

5. You are not alone

In addition to not being alone because many kids have SEN, you don't need to feel alone as a parents seeking that support.  Other parents can be very helpful - with as many kids in school needing SEN there is probably one who you can talk to.

There are organisations that will help you organise your request for and help you during the process of getting and submitting information for an EHCP. It's important to remember that you are applying for an assessment for an EHCP. Without some evidence, the borough may refuse assessment or even after this assessment your views on what support your child needs may not have been met.

These organisations and other can help you through this and at a tribunal if necessary. Organisations like Me Too & Co can help with even more like moral support too. Here are a few but you may also find them listed under SEN in your LA website.

You can call the Contact a Family helpline for help and advice.
Contact a Family helpline
Telephone: 0808 808 3555
Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5pm

You can also get help from Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA).
Use the call back booking system on their Advice or Tribunal Helplines


  1. I thibk it is great that these things are in place. It is a shame that teachers overlook a child or parents issues if it doesn't effect there education. So, therefore parents who have not got a diagnosis or evident problems at school get no help. X #triumphanttales

    1. Yes, these things are great, but getting access to them is not always easy! Thanks for commenting

  2. Great tips for any parents who are worried #triumphanttales

  3. This is such an informative post. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you for linking up to #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again tomorrow.

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  5. This is a brilliant and informative post. My son has gone through school without a formal SEN or EHCP but both the primary school he was at and the high school he is currently in have been great at making lots of reasonable small adjustments to accommodate his needs and because of this we never felt we needed to take any further action to have his needs met. I think if we hadn't been lucky enough to have such supportive schools I'd have definitely had to go down the EHCP application route to make sure his needs were addressed. #SpectrumSunday

  6. This is a really helpful post. I've recently had a draft EHCP through for my son. It committed to providing TA sippsup for him in his current infant school, but he is moving to a junior school next year. The EHCP just says next year he should be in a setting that can support it needs. I'm worried this means his TA support won't therefore follow him into his next school. For several reasons I have my heart sent on sending him to our local community school and not to some faraway setting. They have to keep funding this, right? They can't force me to send him to a special school?

    1. You are right, if a mainstream school can meet your son's needs by being provided with support (i.e a TA, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy etc) then the LA must do everything they can to support this. Legally they must consult a mainstream school during a transition (i.e when a child naturally changes from one school to another) and the mainstream school can only refuse if they feel there is no way that they could meet your son's needs. It's possible that the TA you love won't follow him and another will take her place but there would need to be a significant change in his needs to warrant changing his support or provision. I'd get in touch with IPSEA to go through it with them -

    2. That's really helpful, thank you!


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