Challenging an EHCP draft or EHC plan

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.

Warning Wales has a different process to England

In Wales, there is a statementing process (SNAP Cymru).

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in Wales is changing to Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in 2020.

SEN changes in Wales (SNAP Cymru)

Reviewing the EHC draft plan

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.

SOS!SEN have free information sheets on EHCPs.

Evidence for suggested changes

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.

Examples of good practice for EHC plans (Council for Disabled Children)

Reports by professionals

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.

What to do when you receive the EHC draft plan (IPSEA)

Getting an EHC draft plan (Contact, the charity)

Talking to the local authority

You can speak to or meet with your SEN caseworker about the draft plan.

You can talk about:

If you’re not sure who to talk to, the draft EHC plan and covering letter should have your named contact.

Talking to the school

It can be helpful to talk to the SENCO about the EHC draft plan.

Ask the SENCO about the provision described in section F and if they think it will meet your child’s needs. They may also be able to explain how the school might allocate the provision.

If the SENCO or school have concerns, they should also feedback on the draft plan to the local authority. If you can, work with the SENCO to make comments together.

Sometimes the SENCO or school might disagree with you. You can still suggest your changes without their support.

It can help to get independent advice and support as well as talking to the school.

Getting help with an EHC draft plan

Talk to your local authority’s independent parent support service. They will know:

  • your local authority’s system
  • the processes
  • any barriers
  • the best ways to approach things

This can be helpful at the draft stage. The service may have a different name depending on your area. They’re sometimes called:

  • Parent Partnership
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)
  • Information Advice and Support Service (IASS)

You should be able to find your support service through your Local Offer or the IASS network search.

You can also find information and support online:

What an EHC plan contains (IPSEA)

Model letter for responding to a draft EHC plan (IPSEA)

SOS!SEN has advice centres and a helpline

Parent advice on EHC draft plans and working documents (Special Needs Jungle)

Council for Disabled children family guide to SEND (PDF)

Legal help

Depending on their situation, some people need legal advice and support on EHCPs and their rights.

Finding legal help

Check if you can get legal aid (GOV.UK)

Deciding whether to appeal an EHC plan

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.

What to do when you get your final EHC plan (IPSEA)

If you do not want to go through a formal appeal

You could:

  • use mediation (IPSEA) offered by the local authority
  • 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.

Challenging an EHC plan decision

Which parts of the EHC plan you can appeal (IPSEA)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 19/07/2019

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