what they dont tell you about the EHCP application process

What They Don’t Tell You: Requesting an EHCP

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The EHCP process is legally meant to take 20 weeks, though ‘some’, (and we might be pushing the boundaries on the definition of what ‘some’ means), Local Authorities find it challenging to stick to this deadline.

Some do ask, what is the consequences of missing the 20-week deadline, let’s try and explain what consequence means for the public. If you stop on a London red route, for even a minute you can find yourself with a £160 penalty, if you miss your tax return deadline by 1 day you will most likely receive a £100 charge. If you forget to pay for your TV license and watch broadcast TV, you could face a £1000 fine. The Law does not create exceptions due to excuses, but it should consider reasonableness of course

You get the idea, that breaking the law is a cost, delaying in doing something is a cost, and being slow to realise where you have stopped, could be an instant cost.

You will be glad to know, that if the 20-week deadline is missed by your Local Authority, a day, a week or months, you should be in line to receive an apology. The SENDIST tribunal is even specific to specify, it cannot judge on ‘delay’.

On that note, you can probably see why our definition of ‘some’ probably needs to be expanded. Humour aside, because sometimes it’s easier to laugh than cry, the timetable of the EHCP is set out against this 20-week time frame, which isn’t usually 20 weeks, but it is there so you know what to expect and when, but maybe not, quite when, more like, what to expect next, at some point in the future. Maybe we are being slightly tongue-in-cheek here, and I am sure the process can and does run to these schedules, some of the time.

The Very Beginning: Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

It all begins when a parent or school requests to ask the Local authority to carry out an EHC Needs assessment. If you do not have the backing of the school, you can still request an EHC Needs Assessment using a Section 36 notice, via a letter to the Local Authority (LA), explaining why you think your child needs extra help. Attach any relevant reports or information you have – this kicks off the official timeline.

Weeks 1-6: Processing Your Application The LA takes the first six weeks to process your application. During this time, you’ll need to give your written permission to share information with other parties involved in the EHCP process.

When to share data in the EHCP Process?

“right in the beginning, we get the form to fill out the application for the needs assessment, I cannot remember the details on it, but there was a section on sharing data. Now usually you just tick and sign, but this time I actually read what was being asked to be signed. In effect, the childs data could be shared with anyone who works for the health authority, the National Health Service’, education, basically anyone. What is wrong with that? they need access to do their jobs. I thought about this, but did not like the way the scope was so broad. The form also told us, without this access the process might be held up. So I put on the form, by request. So we would know who was looking at it and why. This resulted in the whole process stopping.

GDPR / Data Protection Act, if you check into it, is clear that organisations have to provide real options to service users. It might be different now, but I did not get that view. I think this was the first time we felt there was this leverage over the applicant i.e. us vs them, this was our first engagement, [Or] it could just been us, reading the room wrong, because the whole process put us on edge.

So eventually it all started up, possibly because we where the only akward ones in England to put a data protection Caveat, maybe they had to have a meeting about it, but a bit further down the road, the school was sharing data like confetti, we pointed out there is no blanket data sharing, we just found the school had no time for due process, and then they did, random and hit and miss, that seemed to suit what the weather was. They would share something without any permission, we would find this out in a SAR a year later, a record of back channel conversations from the school, and this was with an unsigned data protection blanket waiver. You do soon realise you cant battle everything in this process, and protecting data which is highly regulated seemed to be a bit of a free for all. We did speak to someone about this, and they did have a view, well it could be argued its part of the process for them to actually do the job, but did sympathise that an undocumented conversation did seem slightly questionable, as you have point out there where errors being passed on”

Parent on Data Protection and sharing in the EHCP process

Receiving the Decision

You should receive a decision letter from the LA within six weeks of your request. If they decide an EHC Needs Assessment isn’t necessary, they’ll explain why. Remember, decisions can be wrong, in the end, if it’s a straight bat against the evidence, the law will be on your side. Don’t be dissuaded from appealing if you disagree with their decision. You have two months to appeal to SENDIST, but get a mediation certificate first.

Local Authority Agrees to carry out EHC Needs Assessment

If the LA agrees to proceed with the EHCP needs assessment, they’ll gather information from a variety of sources: parents, the child or young person, the school, social care representatives, healthcare professionals, educational psychologists, and any other relevant professionals. Gathering all this information typically takes up to six weeks.

Weeks 6-12: Assessment & Evidence Gathering Everyone asked to provide information has six weeks to respond – this is a legal requirement, not optional. By week 12, the LA should decide whether to start drafting the EHCP based on the information collected.

Weeks 13-16: Drafting and Feedback If the LA decides to create an EHCP, they must send out a draft by week 14, including all the advice and information gathered. Parents then have 15 days to comment on this draft, suggest any changes, and discuss school options.

The School’s Input After receiving your feedback, the LA consults with your preferred school, which also has 15 days to respond. The LA can’t refuse your school choice without a legally valid reason, such as significant impacts on other students or financial impracticality.

Weeks 17-20: Finalizing the Plan By week 20, the LA should send out the final EHCP. This document includes details on the right to appeal if you’re unhappy with its contents, along with information about mediation options.

What Happens After Getting the EHCP?

If all goes smoothly, your child’s EHCP will be reviewed annually to consider any necessary adjustments. For children under five, reviews occur every six months. If there are urgent issues, you can request an earlier review. Any significant changes proposed during these reviews could lead to an amended EHCP, and if you disagree with these amendments, you have the right to appeal to SENDIST.

This timeline ensures that the process, while sometimes complex, follows a structured path aimed at providing the best support for your child’s educational needs. If you have any questions or need guidance along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help you navigate this journey.

  • Key Stages of EHCP:
  • Stakeholders Involved:
    • Local Authority: They are responsible for assessing the need for an EHCP and ensuring the finalised plan is implemented.
    • Schools and Educational Institutions: They play a pivotal role in identifying children who might benefit from an EHCP and are instrumental in its implementation.
    • Parents and Guardians: As the primary advocates for their children, parents provide invaluable insights into their children’s needs and are key collaborators throughout the EHCP process.
  • Common Challenges:
    • Miscommunication: With so many stakeholders involved, there’s a potential for misunderstandings.
    • Delays: The process can be time-consuming, leading to delays that can be stressful for parents eager to secure support for their child.
    • Varied Perspectives: Different stakeholders might have differing views on what’s best for the child, leading to potential conflicts.
  • Assessment: This is the initial phase where a child’s needs are identified. It involves gathering information from parents, teachers, and other professionals to determine if an EHCP is necessary.
  • Drafting the Plan: Once the need for an EHCP is established, a draft plan is created. This document outlines the specific support the child requires, from teaching aids to therapy sessions.
  • Finalising the Plan: After receiving feedback from parents and relevant professionals, the plan is finalized. It then becomes a legal document that schools and institutions must adhere to.
  • Review: EHCPs are not static. They are reviewed annually to ensure they remain relevant and effective as the child’s needs evolve.

What are your Views on the EHCP Process?

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