Please note, the following information only refers to children and young people in England. For information about Wales please see Contact A Families Education in Wales, or for Scotland or Northern Ireland please call Contact a Family free on 0808 888 3555.
Choosing the right education for your child can be a daunting task. Especially when they have special educational needs, or complex care needs.
You want to be sure the nursery, school or college you choose not only has the facilities and trained staff to care for your child but also that they will receive an education enabling them to reach their full potential.
If you believe your child will need extra help when they start school you can request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Assessment. This assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of your child is conducted by your local authority and here is what is included.
At the end of that process, the local authority has to decide either to issue an EHC Plan or not. If the local authority refuses to issue an EHC plan, the family must be informed of the reasons and they have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (Source)
If the decision is to issue an EHC plan, the local authority must first issue a draft plan for the family to consider. At this stage the family will be asked to name the nursery, school or college they would like to attend. The local authority will then consult with that school or college about being named in the plan.
As well as providing for the special educational needs of the child/young person the draft EHC plan should also detail:
- Health care provision that has been assessed as reasonably required
- Social care provision which is being made for the child/young person under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and any other social care provision that has been assessed as reasonably required.
The local authority will finalise the EHC plan and have the legal duty to ensure the educational provision specified in the plan is delivered. The local health care provider will have the legal duty to ensure the health care provision specified in the plan is delivered. If the plan specifies social care provision under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, the local authority will have a legal duty to make that social care provision. (Source)
The Council for Disabled Children has a brilliant document called ‘Education, health and Care Plans – examples of good practice’ which can be used by both parents and professionals contributing towards an EHC. It includes excerpts from real-life EHC plans and examples of best practice.
Your child should be included in any discussions about their education as much as possible. Here is a practical guide to help support young people with special educational needs and disabilities to make their own decisions and to be engaged in the decision making process.
As part of their work, young people’s advisory group EPIC has created a collection of fact sheets for young people to make sense of the SEND reforms in 2014. Here is a fact sheet explaining what an Education, Health and Care Plan is and how it works.
Below are some organisations that can help with further information:
Independent Parent Special Education Advice (IPSEA) offers free and independent legally based information, advice and support to help parents get the right education for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities. It hosts an information service, advice line and tribunal helpline as well as training for parents, schools and local authorities.
The Council for Disabled Children has great resources for young people, parents and professionals relating to SEN education as well as links to other organisations that you may find useful.
Support4SEND (formerly Parent Partnership Service) provides free impartial information, advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. This includes:
- general written information about educational matters relating to special educational needs and disabilities
- trained volunteer Independent Parental Supporters
- information about other agencies and organisations who may be able to support you
They also offer presentations to support groups, and organise an annual Special Needs Information Day.