The role of families in the transfer from a statement to an Education, Health and Care plan is key. Not only is it statutory to involve the parents of a child transferring to an EHC plan, it is also essential for achieving the best outcomes, as no one knows a child as well as its parents or carers do.
Here at Wraparound Partnership we support many families through the transition process with our team of Independent Supporters. We have experienced first-hand the range of approaches that different schools use to help families engage with the process, and we’d like to share some examples of good practice with you.
1. If you have a child on your SEN register transferring to an EHC plan, involve their parents or carers as early as you can. If possible, speak to families on an individual basis to explain the transfer process. Education, Health and Care plans can seem daunting, so a clear explanation of each section can help to demystify the new system. If a meeting with individual families would prove too time-consuming, you could hold an EHC information session where you explain to all families at once how the transfer process works and what they need to know. It may be worth holding two sessions – one is school time, and one on an evening so that working parents can access the session.
2. Try to help parents think about the aspirations they have for their child. Encourage them to talk to their child about what they would like to do when they are older to get an idea of what their long-term aspirations might be. It is important that the child or young-person is central to the process as it will be their EHC plan, which will include guidance for teaching and support staff on the best ways of working with them. Thinking about aspirations can be tricky, particularly if a child or young-person has complex needs or lacks mental capacity, so thinking in the shorter term or into the next key stage of education might be more relevant.
3. Familiarise yourself with your Local Authorities ‘Local Offer’, and print off their parental contribution document. Go through this step-by-step with families so that they know what to include, and the level of information needed in each section. Independent Supporters are available nationwide to assist parents at every stage of the EHC process, they are trained to help families think about their child’s particular needs and how best to support them.
4. At the Transfer Review it is important that parents feel that they are fully included in the process. There are so many acronyms and abbreviations used in education, and using them without explanation can be alienating for parents. Be mindful of this and try to use the full terms where possible. You could also produce a glossary of any key words and terms that may be used in the process. If you have any families with English as an additional language you could make translations of key words and definitions available to them.
5. Ensure that you allocate enough time for a Transfer Review. In our experience an hour is rarely long enough to collect all of the information needed to complete the transfer from Statement to EHC plan. By allowing slightly longer, and giving parents the chance to make a quality contribution, you can save time that might be spent chasing up information after the review.