Dear reader thank you for your interest,
Having now been through over 100 EHC plan needs assessments, we think we have some expertise in this area to share with others. Both schools/colleges and parents can benefit from this very simple advice, which is actually common sense but is all too often overlooked.
We have been to the most wonderful, well prepared child friendly transfer reviews, where the child has had significant health needs which have not been discussed. Likewise we have attended reviews which are all about the paperwork and the process, where the young persons voice definitely has not been heard. We support all people involved in the process, to ensure everyone is working towards the child or young persons aspiration.
Firstly remember this is a 20 week process, it is not about a meeting, it is not about the paperwork, it is a lengthy process during which all people who are involved with the child or young person have an opportunity to submit their views. We have seen parents and young people feeling rushed, not being given enough notice or paperwork to complete and therefore not understanding what it is they are contributing to. But we have also seen parents who are well informed have had lengthy pre transfer meetings and where the Local Authority officers have met with the families before the process begins.
RULE NUMBER 1 : DON’T RUSH, but KNOW YOUR DEADLINES
- Its a 20 week process from start to final plan.
- Year 6 EHC Plans (if they are transferring) to be final plans by 15th February 2016.
- Year 11 EHC Plans to be final plans by 31st March 2016.
- Year 9 statements are to be transferred this year academic year.
- In terms of timescales we always work backwards, so for example if you have a student in year 6 with a statement that is being transferred, they should have a final plan by the 15th February 2016, work backwards 20 weeks to see when the process began. The same applies to year 11 and year 9.
- Yes we know this is the scouts motto, but it is so true, some of the most effective needs assessments we have worked on are those where one of the parties, be that the school or college or the parents are exceptionally well prepared. Where they have collated all the paperwork, trawled the LA’s local offer for process guidelines, got hold of a blank EHC Plan and understand what each section means, understand what should happen and when, know which professionals are or have been involved and have been given time to think through what they would like to submit as their contribution to the process. We have also seen schools that have tried to fit statement objectives into EHC Plan outcomes and floundered because they are two totally different approaches, one is process and target driven, the other is aspirational and outcomes focussed.
- Where EHC needs assessments work best is when everyone involved keeps coming back to the child/young persons aspiration and work together to make this a reality. We always say, if you (parents, teachers, health professionals) get lost anywhere in the process, come back to ‘what are we trying to achieve?’ . So if the young person is working towards independent living (Section A) then think that through to what outcomes will help make that a reality, (Section E). In terms of, for example independent living, it may be, a better understanding of money, and/or being able to follow a sequence of instructions in order to make a meal, and/or weekly community shopping experience in order to develop their own shopping lists. Now we know that the outcomes set should be SMART outcomes, but in reality and based on our observations they are rarely so. It may be in time that they do become more specific but for the time being it would appear Professionals and Local Authorities seem keen on making the processes work for the benefit of all involved and to ensure as smoother journey as possible.
- You may recognise the terms, key worker or lead professional, but this implies that the parent can not be the lead in this process. In our experience the EHC needs assessment process, done well, is an equal process, therefore it would seem right and proper that in some cases it is the parent or young person who takes on the lead role. We understand and appreciate that many LA’s have EHC co-ordinators, but we also see many EHC Coordinators who are overstretched, who have not had enough training or been given enough time to carry out the role effectively, this is also true for SENCOS’ and SEN teaching staff. We see EHC Needs assessments working well for all involved when there is one key lead co-ordinator, this can be the parent, young person, an independent supporter, SENCO or Teacher, but it needs to be someone who knows the individual well, who has the time, knowledge and expertise to be able to coordinate a wide range of people.