Here at Wraparound HQ, the Myth of Section A is an inevitable topic of conversation. The mystery of Section A is one of those that will remain unsolved, though we have our suspicions.
Education, Health and Care Plans, (EHCP) have at their heart, the views, wishes and feelings of the child, young person and their parents/carers. (Part of the Section 19 principle). EHCP’s are based on the aspirations of the child or young person they are written about. These aspirations thread through to outcomes (Section E) and provision (Section F).
When EHCP’s first started trickling through to our organisation, in 2014, parents and young people asked us to help them contribute to the plan. We often sent in contributions covering every section of the plan. We would support parents and/or young person to send in their thoughts on each section: thoughts on outcomes, thoughts on provision, thoughts on health and social care needs, and so on.
Over the course of time, we began to see a shift as Local Authorities began to get to grips with the reforms. Parents were asked to tell their story, describe what their aspirations were for their child, what were the diagnosed health needs of their child, for example. The forms that parents and young people were requested to complete, became more and more prescriptive, with boxes and sections, and the voice of the child/young person in some cases got lost.
We then came up against the Section A Myth.
To be perfectly honest, we are not entirely sure how and when this myth sprang up. It appears to have been slowly developing, mutating and spreading, so that it is now talked about as if it were fact.
We regularly encounter parents, young people and even professionals who believe that the parents/young person are only able to contribute to Section A of an EHCP. Unless someone knows some details in law where this is fact, we are still working under the assumption that parents and young people can contribute to ANY part of the EHCP. After all the entire plan is about them, is it not.
It is essential that parents and young people describe their aspirations in Section A and input as much detail as they wish. But it is also equally essential that those same parents/young people are allowed to contribute to as many sections of the plan as they wish, well before the draft stage, and not, as is the case with some of our families, be informed that they have completed the wrong form, filled in the wrong box and that they can only contribute to Section A of their plan.
After all the entire plan is about them, its theirs, it’s their aspiration, their outcome, their provision. Local Authorities can get so tangled up in their own processes, structures and protocol that it is easy to forget about the child/young person at the centre. Parents/Young People, unless someone tells us otherwise, (and believe me we have looked for evidence) you can contribute to all sections of the EHCP.