An Education, Health and Care Plan, also called an EHCP or EHC Plan, must include the views of the child, parents and professionals involved.
You and your child should take part in the process. You should get copies of assessments and reports sent to your local authority as part of the EHC needs assessment (IPSEA). If you do not receive these, ask the local authority for copies.
Reviewing the reports early in the draft plan process gives you time to look over the recommendations. If you disagree with a professional, you can try to get a second opinion. This may mean paying for a private assessment from another professional.
The local authority must give you at least 15 days to review and comment on the draft EHC plan. Your feedback is sometimes called ‘representations’.
The 15 day deadline only starts when you get the local authority’s letter. The letter may arrive separately to the draft plan. The draft plan can arrive by post or email.
It can help to keep in contact with your SEN caseworker, sometimes called EHC plan co-ordinator, throughout the process. But if you and the school do not receive a copy of the draft plan within 14 weeks from your assessment application, contact your local authority.
It can also be useful to plan for when you expect the draft so you can:
collect evidence before that date (such as reports and assessments)
set up meetings with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) and local authority during the 15 days to talk about the draft plan
If you’re expecting a report from a professional a few days after the deadline, you could ask your caseworker for some flexibility.
It can help to have evidence on why you think something in the draft plan needs to change. When reviewing the draft plan, check that it follows the SEN Code of Practice (GOV.UK) guidelines on provision.
For example, on page 166, it says that provision:
must be detailed and specific
should normally be quantified (have supporting evidence)
This might be the type, hours and frequency of support as well as the level of expertise. This should include support that’s secured through a Personal Budget.
Provision must also be specified for each and every need in section B. It should be clear how the provision will support achievement of the outcomes.
Special educational provision is anything that “educates or trains” your child. This could be anything from individual support to speech and language therapy.
If draft plan does not reflect the guidelines, use them as evidence to show why the plan needs changes.
Also check any reports by professionals against the EHC draft plan. Any specific recommendations from professionals should be included.
You can use the reports as evidence if the plan does not reflect:
your child’s needs outlined in the professional assessments
support or provision recommended in the professionals’ reports
If you think there’s a mistake or you disagree with the contents of a professional’s report, you can raise this with the professional and the local authority.
You might need to get a second opinion if they do not agree with your comments. This may mean paying for a private assessment from another professional.
Conflicting assessments or recommendations between the local authority and the second opinion might need mediation. If it’s not resolved and the final plan is released, you can appeal to a tribunal to resolve the issue as an independent party.
If you’re not happy with the final EHC plan, you do not have to appeal straight away. A formal appeal can involve time and money, and may be stressful. Every situation is different and there is no right answer about which option to take.
try the plan for some time and, if your child is not getting the support they need to progress, ask for an early annual review
wait for the EHCP annual review and ask for changes after reviewing your child’s progress or getting more evidence
You can still make a formal appeal if you decide to try the plan first. You can do this after an early or annual review. The local authority should give you information about appealing with their decision letter. Find out more about EHCP reviews.
If you want to appeal the EHC plan
The local authority’s paperwork should tell you what you need to do. The process usually starts with mediation.
If mediation does not work, you can appeal to a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) tribunal. The appeal is a legal process and you or a solicitor would need to build your case for a hearing. The local authority would do the same.