Prior to this new world of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), in the world of Statements of Special Educational needs, there was never really any early decisions to be made when it came to post 16 choices for Students in Year 11 with SEND. Statements of SEN became Learning Difficulties Assessments in Post 16, which were often written by Connexions/Careers advisers who used the information from the Statement of SEN. In a few circumstances LDA’s had some funding attached to them to support those with complex and more significant needs in their post 16 choice. Year 11 students and their parents/carers looked around open days, applied to as many choices are they thought were appropriate and hoped for the best results.
The birth of the EHCP has changed this situation. As EHCP’s cover the age range 0 – 25 there is little wriggle room at transition to Further Education, as a provider is required to be named on the EHCP by the 31st March 2017.
As we are working with many Year 11 students (in both mainstream and special schools) we thought it may help others to share a few of our tips for parents, schools and FE providers.
- Attend all the available open days/evenings.
- Ask questions of the SEN team at the FE Provider, How do they support students? What courses are on offer? Which ones have a lot of theory/practical work? How much independent study is there? What is the expectation in terms of homework? How do they support transition for students with complex needs? (This is the leg work, but if done correctly will give you more of an idea when it comes to the EHCP what is on offer.) Do they deliver other support, e.g. Counselling, Careers advice, work experience?
- Inform the FE Provider that your child has some difficulties and how would they approach the support required? Would they require additional funding? Would they be able to provide support without additional funding? How do they work in partnership with Parents/Carers?
- Ensure you are aware of the entrance requirements for the courses and ask whether the provider is strict about those requirements for those with SEND.
- Request interim reviews with the current school, EHCP coordinator if you think it is necessary. Ask for help if your understanding of the EHCP is limited and you feel flustered.
- Advise parents and students to look round FE Providers early on, ideally in Year 10.
- Be clear on which providers offer what in your local area.
- Develop good links with your post 16 providers so that you can ascertain which courses, support or programmes would suit which students learning the best.
- Be aware of developments in apprenticeships, internships and University Technical Colleges.
- Have an early review in the autumn term, to set the scene for support going into Post 16 provision, this is something that can be shared with providers.
- Have a further interim review in February as the plan should be almost final by then invite the post 16 providers, this would be to name the placement.
- Work in partnership with student, parents, LA, Health and Social Care, as appropriate.
- Develop good links with your Local Authorities.
- Develop good links with the Secondary School SENCO’s, attend any SENCO forums if possible.
- Be flexible in your approach, be approachable.
- Though there may be entry requirements make sure you know whether there is any room for flexibility.
- Be honest about the support you can provide.
- Be available, transition to FE for some students is a huge leap.
- Raise issues such as transport, independence, social skills, whether students are allowed off site.
- Be realistic with parents and students about the funding situations.
- Explain in detail about the level of support and what that support looks like in your setting.
- Offer a taster day/half day for the student.
- Attend school reviews so that you can input into the EHCP.
If anyone has any more tips to add please let us know.
One final thought, the deadline for finalising Year 11 EHCP’s is the 31st March, we have had many situations where college, LA, have not wanted to name a placement in the plan because of the entry requirements for the course. Please do not let the plan sit in its draft form otherwise you risk the child being in limbo with no legal framework to fall back on. If there are issues about naming the placement, you may suggest that section I says something like;
(Placement: Weybridge College: entry requirements 5 A – C).
Make sure you have a plan B for if those grades are not achieved and, if they are not then ensure the plan is reviewed in the first half of the autumn term.
If you would like to chat to us about your individual circumstances, please do get in touch.