What to do if your child does not get an EHCP

Your local authority might decide that your child does not need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan (also called an EHCP). This usually means that the local authority thinks your child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) support in school is enough to meet their needs.

If this happens you can either:

  • accept this decision and work with the school to add to or change your child’s support
  • formally appeal

Warning Wales has a different process to England

In Wales, an EHC plan is called a ‘statement’.

Find out what to do if your local authority does not give you a statement (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)

EHC assessment reports

Your local authority uses EHC assessment reports to decide what provision your child needs. Special educational provision is anything that “educates or trains” your child. This could be anything from individual support to speech and language therapy.

The EHC assessment reports can include advice from:

  • you and, if possible, your child
  • your child’s nursery, school or college
  • an educational psychologist
  • specialist teachers (for example if your child has a hearing impairment)
  • health and social care services
  • others whose views may be important, such as a GP

Reports can also include advice on adulthood and independent living for young people over 14.

The local authority will use the reports to decide if your child needs an EHC plan.

What happens in an EHC needs assessment (IPSEA)

How you can use the reports

You should get copies of all assessments and reports, including a report from the school. If you do not, ask the local authority for these. You can also ask the school for a copy of their report.

You can use the reports to do any or all of the following:

  • talk to the school about the local authority’s decision and your child’s existing SEN support at school
  • show at mediation (IPSEA) why you disagree with the local authority’s decision
  • decide whether to appeal the local authority’s decision at a tribunal

Some local authorities might provide a summary of the report recommendations. This is not a legal (statutory) document and the school does not have to follow it.

If you need help with understanding the contents of a report, contact your local independent parent support service (IASS). If the report is not accessible to you, ask the local authority for a copy in an alternative format, such as Word document or Easy Read (Easy Read Online).

Appealing an EHCP decision

Talking to the school

It’s important to talk to the school first. Your child’s support might change following the EHC assessment.

Speak to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or school about the local authority’s decision. Ask if the school:

  • agrees with the local authority’s decision and can include the EHC assessment report recommendations in your child’s SEN support
  • thinks you can appeal the decision (you can still do this without school support)

Go through the reports with the SENCO to talk about your child’s needs and the recommended provision. Check what the school can and cannot provide from the assessment reports.

Every state school gets a SEN budget and it’s up to them how they spend it. It can help to ask how much of that SEN provision is shared by other pupils. You could also check the school’s SEN offer on their website for more information about what they can provide.

Talking to your child’s school about SEN support (Contact, the charity)

Support for your child at school: SEN and EHCP

Warning If the SENCO is not helpful

Speak to the headteacher about your concerns. If you’re still struggling to work with the school, follow the school’s complaints procedure. You can usually find this on the school website.

If you decide not to appeal

Talk to the SENCO about your child’s existing SEN support, sometimes called an Individual Education Plan (IEP), and review the targets. These should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART).

Ask the SENCO what they can add or change. This could be things like a referral to a specialist teacher or support with handwriting, reading and behaviour. You can use the EHC assessment reports to make sure the school gives your child the recommended support.

How your nursery, school or college should help (IPSEA)

Trying school SEN support

You could try the updated SEN support for around 6 months to see how your child progresses. You could ask the SENCO for monthly reviews or updates about progress against targets.

If your child is not meeting their targets with this support, talk to the SENCO about reapplying for an EHC plan.

Talking to teachers about your child's progress

If the school is not meeting your child’s needs

If the school is not using the EHC needs assessment recommendations in your child’s SEN support, you can:

Keep a record

It can help to keep a written record of everything between you and the school. This could include:

  • emails or letters to the school
  • any replies from teachers, the SENCO or headteacher
  • your complaint to the school and how they dealt with it
  • meetings you’ve had, when they happened and what they were about

Doing this can help you show how the SEN support is not working and what steps you’ve taken to try to resolve the problem with the school.

Deciding to appeal

You can appeal with or without the school’s support. It’s usual to try mediation (IPSEA) with the local authority first and get a certificate. You can then submit a formal appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

Whether at mediation or the SEND tribunal, you will need to show that the school cannot meet your child’s needs without an EHC plan.

Challenging an EHC plan decision

Appeal an EHC plan decision (GOV.UK)

Appealing an EHC plan (IPSEA)

Getting school support

If the SENCO thinks you can appeal, talk about why they disagree with the local authority’s decision. You can work with them to collect evidence to support your appeal. Ideally, the SENCO should be able to support you at both mediation and the SEND tribunal.

Collect evidence

Check the recommendations from the EHC needs assessment reports. Look at information on:

  • your child’s needs
  • the support or provision needed
  • the expected outcomes (how the support will make a difference)

The EHC needs assessment should include reports from your child’s school too. These can include information about existing SEN support, progress, grades, assessments and anything else sent to the local authority. You can use these reports to support your appeal.

Keep a copy of any relevant letters or emails. You might be able to use them in your evidence.

What happens in an EHC needs assessment (IPSEA)

Problems with a report

Write to the professional and the local authority to ask them to review the reports if they:

  • are unclear
  • do not include needs, provision or outcomes
  • have a mistake

If you need guidance, paragraph 9.51 of the SEND code of practice says:

“The evidence and advice submitted by those providing it should be clear, accessible and specific. They should provide advice about outcomes relevant for the child or young person’s age and phase of education and strategies for their achievement.

[…] They may comment on the amount of provision they consider a child or young person requires and local authorities should not have blanket policies which prevent them from doing so.”

You might need to get a second opinion if you do not agree with the professional or local authority. 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 you think there’s something missing from the school’s assessment report or you want to see your child’s full school record, you can ask the school for this in writing. Try to keep a good relationship with the school, especially if the school is not supporting your appeal.

But if you have problems with the school, you can ask for the records as a Freedom of Information request (ico.org.uk) and they must give it to you.

Your local support service

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

They can also help you understand your and your child’s rights. The service might be able to support you at school meetings too.

The service may have a different name depending on your area. They’re sometimes called:

  • Parent Partnership Service
  • 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.

The Local Offer

The Local Offer can help you find SEND information and support for your area as well as nationally. It can include:

  • independent schools or colleges
  • therapy services
  • care placements
  • behaviour support
  • courses
  • inclusive clubs
  • play schemes
  • special activities outside school hours

What is the Local Offer? (localoffer.co.uk)

The local authority must also say what they expect to be available for education, such as:

  • what schools, colleges and other settings they will provide from their SEND funding
  • educational, health and care provision
  • training
  • transport between home and school, college, nursery or other early years group
  • support for preparing for adulthood and independent living

Warning The Local Offer is not legally binding

There’s no guarantee that services included will be available to your child.

You can also look at SENDirect for local support, services and information, from education and learning to activities.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 19/07/2019

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