Data published on 29th March has shown that approximately 222,000 children and young people with disabilities or special educational needs (SEND) have had their care reviewed as part of the government’s introduction of the new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
The new EHC plans replace the old Statements of SEN and aim to provide tailored support for children and young people with SEND, bringing their health, social and educational care needs for the first time. The plans ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to succeed in and tackle the inequalities they face in the education system.
Nadhim Zahawi, the Children and Families Minister has also announced sponsors for 14 new special free schools around the country.
These schools will create more than 1,100 high quality school places for children with multiple learning difficulties including those with autism and mental health needs. The new schools will open under the government’s free schools programme; helping to raise educational standards whilst offering parents more choice for their children.
A ground-breaking national trial to give SEND Tribunal new powers has also been launched by the government. This trial will give both young people and parents new rights to appeal decisions on the health and social care parts of their EHC plan whilst also supporting their existing rights regarding education.
The SEND Tribunal hears appeals where there are disputes about EHC plans, but until now only had powers to look into concerns regarding the education element of plans which would create burden on families and those who had concerns about the health or social care aspects of the plans.
The Childrens and Families Minister stated the need for every child to have support to unlock their potential irrespective of their background or the challenges they may face. The new EHC plans put the views of the young people with disabilities and special educational needs and their families at the heat of the process to help shape the support they receive.
Zahawi further noted that it had been a huge task to transfer every young person onto a new plan but the local authorities had risen to the challenge with almost 222,000 cases reviewed. Councils are now being worked with to ensure they carry out the remaining reviews and to ensure that the new EHC plans are of high quality. The move to open new special free schools across the country is also hoped to provide tailored support and ensure that more young people have access to the excellent education that every child deserves.
As of March 1st, one month before the deadline, councils were on track to complete the majority of reviews on time with 94% having been completed. More reviews are thought to have been completed in the intervening weeks.
The EHC plans are a key focus of the new SEND system to ensure that through a single plan, a more joined up approach, brings together the services delivered by social services, schools, nurseries, further education colleges and local health bodies to meet the needs of all young people and children with SEND.
The plan is also aimed at helping young adults by preparing them for the world of work and living independently as well as helping them to achieve their long term aspirations.
Local councils will continue to be monitored on their implementation of EHC plans and will be provided with ongoing support through funding, professional advice and a wide range of training and resources will be on hand for education, health and social care professionals.
The new special free schools will include:
- Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust will open a 200-place special free school for children aged 3-19 with profound and multiple learning difficulties in Kempston, Bedford;
- The East Blackburn Learning Community Trust will open a 48-place special school for children aged 10-16 with a wide range of social, emotional and mental health needs in Blackpool, Lancashire;
- East Cheshire Youth Achievement Free School Trust will open a 40-place special free school for children aged 4-16 with social, emotional and mental health needs in Crewe, Cheshire;
- Edmonton Academy Trust will open a 70-place special free school for children aged 11-19 with social, emotional, and mental health needs in Enfield;
- Prospere Learning Trust will open a 100-place special school for children aged 3-11 with profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder in Blackley, Manchester;
- Astrum Multi Academy Trust will open a 64-place special free school for children aged 2-7 with speech, language, and communication needs and social, emotional, and mental health needs in Redbridge, Ilford;
- The Enable Trust will open a 122-place special free school for children aged 2-19 with profound and multiple learning difficulties and severe learning difficulties in Alveston, South Gloucestershire;
- Orchard Hill College Academy Trust will open a 150-place special free school and nursery for pupils aged 2-19 with autism spectrum disorder in Croydon;
- Nexus Multi Academy Trust will open a 100-place special free school for children aged 5-19 with complex communication and interaction needs, autism spectrum disorder and other social and mental health needs in Doncaster. It has also been approved to open a 60-place special free school for children with autism spectrum disorder and social, emotional, and mental health needs in Sheffield;
- Catch22 Multi Academy Trust will open a 125-place special school for children aged 4-16 with autism spectrum disorder and social communication needs in Basingstoke, Hampshire;
- Samuel Ward Academy Trust will open two new special free schools: one with 60 places for children aged 3-16 with communication and interaction needs and social, emotional and mental health needs in Romford and one with 60 places for children aged 8-16 with autism spectrum disorder and social, emotional and mental health needs in Ipswich; and
- Barrs Court Academy Trust will open a 50-place special free school for children with severe and complex learning difficulties, including autism spectrum disorder in Hereford.
The Government has given £29m to support local authorities with their ongoing implementation and will also provide an additional £200,000 for local authority regional SEND coordinators. Specialist SEND advisers will continue to be provided to work with local areas along with a national SEND helpline for families, ongoing Ofsted/CQC local area inspections and are funding parent carer forums in 2018-19 and 2019-20 costing £2.3m per year.
Following on from the data published on 29th March, findings from two related studies by IFF Research and the University of Derby have also been published highlighting the factors that shape positive user experiences of the Education, Health and Care planning process and illustrate good practice in developing the EHC plan content.
A SEND review tool to help schools identify priorities and build school to school approaches to improvement has also been made available along with a number of tools to address weaknesses identified by reviews. This can be accessed at www.sendgateway.org.uk.
“Most parents of a child with a Statement of Special Educational Needs will be aware that their child should have had an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment carried out and concluded by 1 April 2018. The latest figures from the DfE indicate that, as at 1 March 2018, only 94%of these assessments have been completed.
“There of course may have been further assessments completed in the final month before the deadline, but it is likely that there are still parents who are concerned that their child has not had an assessment and potentially that one hasn’t even been contemplated by the Local Authority.
“The law says that the Statement of SEN will still have effect, but the new law relating to EHC Plans will apply to the Statement. This could leave many unanswered questions for parents who are not sure where they stand. The law also says that an EHC needs assessment should be completed as soon as reasonably practicable in these cases.
“Although these cases should be few and far between, if you feel that you or your child have been forgotten or left behind in this Statement to EHC Plan assessment process, then we may be able to help.”
For any information or advice in relation to EHC plans or other education law enquiries, please call our team on 0808 168 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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