An Education, Health and Care Plan, also called an EHCP or EHC Plan, is a legal document. This means that legally your local authority must provide the provision agreed in your child’s plan.
Special educational provision is anything that ‘educates or trains’ your child. This could be anything from individual sessions to speech and language therapy. This can include therapies provided by health or social care.
Warning Local authorities must provide support in EHCPs
Legally, schools and local authorities must provide the support in your child’s EHC plan, even if your child is not at school.
If your local authority says that they cannot do this, contact your local parent support service for help.
The local authority will have consulted the school on your child’s EHC plan, including:
what resources the school can provide
any external expertise that’s needed
what additional funding the school might need
If you think your child is not getting some of the support in the EHC plan, talk to your child’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) about it first.
Talking to the SENCO
It can be helpful to understand how the school is supporting your child. Some parents think the school is not following the EHC plan because of the way they’re using the provision.
How a school decides to use provision will depend on what’s described in the EHC plan and how specific it is.
For example, the school might use the hours described in the EHCP for both direct and indirect work.
If your child’s EHCP says
“6 hours of speech and language therapy support per term.”
This might mean 2 hours are your child’s time with the speech and language therapist. The other 4 hours might involve the speech and language therapist:
doing termly planning
working with your child’s teachers
training staff or teaching assistants on how they can support your child’s needs
If you’re not sure how the school is using your child’s provision, meet the SENCO to:
ask how the school is allocating the provision
talk about how they’re using the EHC plan funding
work together to find the best way to use the provision
You could also ask for this information in writing.
Asking for an informal review
You can ask for an informal review to talk about the EHC plan and your child’s progress. This could involve teachers and anyone working with your child.
You could ask for a meeting because:
your child is not progressing as expected
you’re worried the school is not following your child’s EHC plan
you’re not sure how the school is delivering the support
there are problems with health or social care providers, such as physios or speech and language therapists, at the school
you want to talk about any team changes and who will be supporting your child
Be clear about what you think is not working. If you can, work with the school to understand:
what provision and funding is in place
how they are following the EHC plan
what needs to change
If there’s a bigger problem, like something the SENCO cannot deal with or a problem with the school, you might want to involve your SEN officer or case worker from the local authority. Their contact details should be on your child’s EHCP paperwork.
If the school says there’s a budget problem
The EHC plan outlines funding for all provision. The plan should have enough support to meet your child’s needs. If your child’s needs have changed or the school says they need more budget to support your child, you can ask for an early annual review. Annual reviews only look at changes to the plan.
If you are concerned the school is not using the money in the right way, contact your local authority SEN officer or your point of contact on the EHC plan.
Health and social care support
The local authority is legally responsible for making sure health and social care support is provided. For example, physiotherapy or occupational therapy. The local authority will also need to make sure there’s cover for things like sick leave.
Your school may be able to provide some support internally. For example if they have a speech and language therapist. Talk to the SENCO about who will provide the support and where it will happen.
If you or the school is having trouble getting the services from a health agency such as the NHS, it’s good to talk to the SENCO first.
Then contact your local authority SEN officer or case worker. The local authority are legally responsible for making sure your child has support.
If your child is still not getting the support, follow your local authority’s complaints procedure.
If you feel that the school is still not following the EHC plan after a meeting with your SENCO or they do not resolve any problems you raised, talk to someone from the senior management team. For example, the assistant head teacher or head teacher.
If the school still fails to follow the EHCP, contact your local authority to make a complaint. IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice) has a template letter you can use.
If you cannot come to a solution with the school or local authority, ask to see your local disagreement resolution service. This can help you deal with any disagreements between you and the education or health and social care organisations.
The service can also help with disagreements between local authorities and health organisations, like the NHS.
Maintaining your relationship with the school
Dealing with problems with your child’s support can be hard. But it’s helpful to maintain a good relationship with your child’s school and keep communication open. You’ll probably work with them for a few years.
To help maintain this relationship, you can:
identify who your main contact is at the school. Is there a single SENCO or different ones for each key stage?
ask the SENCO for the best way to contact them, such as email, and check how you can reach them if it’s urgent
find out the SENCO’s availability for meetings or chats that suit you both
get support from the SEN parent information service provided by the local authority
Meetings can also be more open and productive if you:
are clear about the purpose of a meeting and who you want there
write down any problems you have and what you want to achieve from the meeting before you go
agree how long meetings will be to make sure everyone is available for the same amount of time
ask how meetings are going to be recorded or who is going to take the minutes
take someone with you for support or to take notes, such as your partner, family, friend or even someone from the parent information service
set a date and time for follow-up meetings, such as in 6 weeks, to check that people are doing what they said they would
keep copies of all your records, documents and communications with everyone involved
Parent Information Service
Your local authority must publish all services available to support disabled children and their families in your area. This is called a Local Offer. It covers education, health and social care services.
By law, every Local Offer should have a parent information service. They can give you independent advice and support about your child’s EHC plan. While it’s funded by the local authority, the service is there to help parents understand the local system and give impartial advice. They will know the different services and processes involved as well as how the local authority and school manage extra support. They should be able to help you with any problems.
The service may have a different name depending on your area. They’re sometimes called:
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)