We are now just over six months on from the coming into force of the Children and Families Act 2014, with the introduction of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) to replace statements in England. As more children and young people come under the new system, we are getting increased numbers of calls to the helpline about the transfer arrangements, so it seems a good opportunity to remind you about how the process should be carried out and what to watch out for.
When will my child be transferred and do I have a choice?
Children and young people with existing statements are being transferred to the new system in a gradual way until April 2018. The main group that must be transferred this year are those young people leaving school to move to further education or training. These young people must have a final EHCP by 31 May 2015 so the process should be well under way by now.
Within the framework set by the government, Local Authorities (LA) may set their own timetable as to which groups to transfer in which years. This timetable must be published on the LA website. There is no legal right to be transferred ahead of the timetable, but your LA should consider any reasonable requests.
Some parents have been given the option for their child to transfer either now or at a later stage. While the DSA can’t give a hard and fast rule about what to do, you may like to consider the following:
- Are you happy with the existing statement? If you have fought hard to get specific provision then you may want to leave well alone. If the statement does not reflect your child’s needs or you are looking for a change of school you may want to move to an EHCP
- Does your child have complex health needs that are not being properly catered for in school? In this case you may want to consider moving to an EHCP
- How well prepared is your LA? If there have been a lot of teething problems in your area then you may prefer to wait
What is the procedure? Is a transfer review just like an ordinary annual review?
The transfer from statements to EHCPs happens by means of a ‘transfer review’. This must involve a meeting of parents and professionals which normally takes the place of an annual review meeting. However, the transfer review is not just a one off meeting or a rebadging of an existing statement, but must consist of a full EHC needs assessment. Legally binding timescales apply to this.
- 2 weeks’ notice for the start of the process
- 2 weeks’ notice for the review meeting
- 14 weeks from start to final EHCP (this is the date by which the final EHCP must be in place)
Who must be involved?
The local authority must consider information and advice about the young person from the following people / agencies:
- Education – normally the school or college
- Parents and the young person themselves
- Social care
- Anyone the LA thinks necessary
- Anyone that parents or the young person reasonably requests
If the existing information is up to date the LA must not seek further reports. However, this is subject to agreement from parents/young people. Many young people will have statements that are severely out of date. If you think that a new report is needed, then insist on it. There is a new right for the parent/young person to request involvement from particular people. This might be for instance a speech and language therapist, an occupational therapist or mental health professional.
Although EHCPs are triggered by an educational need, health and social care are an integral part of the plan, so it is important for instance to check that any medical reports are up to date. Many families may not have had any social care involvement when their children were younger. It can help to ask for a separate social care assessment before the EHC transfer review.
Parents and young people should be closely involved in writing the EHCP. This involvement is particularly likely to focus on the young person’s and the family’s views and aspirations. It is also important to think about the outcomes that the young person will be aiming for over the next couple of years.
Once the draft plan has been drawn up you will be sent a copy and have 15 days to comment and submit your preference of school or college. This may of course be the school that your child already attends.
My son/daughter is over 16. Are there specific things to be aware of for this age group?
Yes there are some significant changes in the law affecting young people over compulsory school age. Please see our factsheet ‘Young people over 16 with SEND’ for full details.
In summary – essential points:
- Check your LA’s timetable
- Find as many forms etc from the LA website as you can
- Find out if your local Information Advice and Support service (formerly parent partnership) is doing any information events for parents
- Start thinking about what updated evidence may be needed
- Get some help – independent supporters should be available – check your LA’s local offer site
We have published a series of factsheets on various education rights:
The Council for Disabled children have a list of SEN Information and Advice Support Services here:
DfE transitional guidance
IPSEA have a useful transition timeline document