The REAL reasons why your child’s school does not want to initiate an EHCP!
Written by Mums Say Radio on April 16, 2018
Your worried about your child’s progress at school!
Your child appears unhappy and anxious and avoids going to school at all costs!
Or perhaps your child is the one who is always in isolation or receiving fixed term exclusions?
You have spoken to the Headteacher, you have met with the SENCo and you have stated that you feel your child may need the added support of an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Except, get the impression that they are reluctant to apply for one and that its possible they think your just a hysterical parent with a poorly behaved kid.
If this sounds all too familiar, then you need to continue reading this post to find out what exactly you need to know and do!
There are many assumptions as to why a school may be reluctant to go down the path of requesting an assessment for an EHCP.
It creates a whole load of extra work, from completing the request, gathering information, to holding annual reviews.
Its usual for the schools to be expected to fund the first £6000 of any budget awarded within an EHCP!
Perhaps the school do not have evidence that they have followed the ‘graduated response’?
As a parent, these reasons are simply not acceptable!
I am almost certain that people go into teaching because they are passionate about helping young people achieve and learn. The problem is that just like many other public services these days, the bureaucratic demands made on teaching staff coupled with the rising number of young people with special educational needs and poor mental health and well-being is simply too much. It is true that we only need to look to the media to find stories siting ‘a national shortage of teachers’ to gain a glimpse into what perhaps is becoming a big problem.
Perhaps it’s too easy to feel that teachers and support staff have it easy? After all they have 13 weeks holiday don’t they? And let’s not forget they all go home by 4pm right?
Wrong! It’s probably a fair assumption that most of us have had these thoughts at one time or another, but having worked in education for 11 years I can tell you that I know of colleagues who are in work by 6.30am checking emails, preparing lesson plans, marking work. My sister and sister-in-law, who are both teachers, quite often stay at school until 8pm ensuring that everything is prepared for the following day.
OK, so now we have established that the school’s staff may be a little over-worked let’s throw a parent and ‘difficult’ child into the mix. Be assured your child is NOT difficult! Whatever behaviour they are displaying, be it disruptive or anxious for example, is a manifestation of an underlying issue. The behaviour is simply a form of communication, and currently the only form he/she knows how to use.
On top of all the normal schoolwork the SENCo carries out (teaching, planning, over-seeing etc.) there is also the additional tasks that must take place to ensure that those pupils classified as SEN are having their needs met. These tasks should take place prior to an EHCP Needs Assessment Request.
Your child should be on the school’s SEN Register. There are 4 categories of SEN. These are:
Cognition and Learning,
Communication and Interaction,
Social, Emotional and Mental health,
Sensory and/or Physical.
It is possible that your child will fit under more than one category, for example, they could be severely dyslexic with high anxiety levels. I would expect this child to be under the category of ‘Cognition and Learning’, and ‘Social, Emotional and Mental Health’.
Next comes the ‘Graduated Response’. As stated in the SEN Code of Practice, this is a 4-stage cycle which the school must be carrying out. The cycle consists of ‘Assess, Plan, Do and Review‘.
So, what does this mean then? Well, first the school must assess. This could be in the form of class assessments or seeking professional advice such as the Educational Psychologist or Speech and Language for example. The aim is to establish what the needs are and why your child is not working at the expected level in line with their peers.
Next, I would expect to see some kind of a support plan in place. It really does not matter what the support plan is called, i.e. Individual Education Plan, Individual Support Plan etc. the aim is always the same, to bridge the gap in the child’s learning. Importantly the parent and the pupil if possible, should be involved in the planning stage. I would suggest no more than 3 targets. Caution! Ask your school how these targets are going to be monitored, how will they know when your child has achieved them? What support is going to be put in place to help your child reach them? If these questions cannot be answered then the plan is worthless.
Now the plan is in place it is time to put it into action! This comes under the ‘do‘ part of the Graduated Response Cycle. This essentially means that the school will putting into practice the various levels of support it has been agreed that your child needs in order to help him/her bridge the gap in their learning.
Lastly the school should arrange a time with you whereby you can all sit together and review the support plan. Did it work? How do we know it worked? Do we need to set new targets, or do we need further work and support on the existing targets? If your child is on the SEN Register, these meetings should take place 3 times a year!
For some children having school support is enough to help them on their educational journey, however for others this is only the beginning.
Now is the time that your school should seriously be considering placing an EHCP Needs Assessment Request! The sooner, the better, as the whole process from start to finish takes 20 weeks!
Here is the part your school hates! If you have ever seen an EHCP Needs Assessment form then you will have some idea of exactly what I am talking about. There are various sections to the documentation spanning over at least 12 pages if not more. A good SENCo will work with you to complete the form to a high standard. Ensure that you provide your SENCo with a good historical and relevant background regarding your child. Now sometimes this information may be quite traumatic or even embarrassing but remember information will be kept confidential and no-one is going to judge you! Believe me, staff have seen it and heard it all before! Make sure you give the SENCo any letters from professionals and documentation relating to your child’s needs. These can be photocopied by the school and placed with the request.
The SENCo will need to be able to provide evidence of your child’s special educational needs (SEN) and how the needs impact their learning. Further to this the SENCo will also be expected to provide evidence that the school has tried everything they can to support your child. This will be evidenced through the ‘graduated response’.
The local authority will also ask for current attainment levels and previous attainment levels, along with details of any professionals involved, suggested strategies and evidence, and that these have been carried out.
You will need to sign the form along with the headteacher, otherwise your local authority will not accept it.
If a local authority is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, they must consider:
- whether the child or young person has or may havespecial educational needs (“SEN”); and
- whether they mayneed special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan.
If the answer to both of these questions is yes, they must carry out an EHC needs assessment.
This test is set out in the law (section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014). This means these are the only questions the LA should be asking when considering whether or not to carry out an EHC needs assessment.
On receipt of the EHCP Needs Assessment Request, the local authority have 6 weeks in which they collect preliminary advice from the school and professionals involved. This information goes to a ‘panel’ meeting where a decision is made as the whether your child has met the statutory test which will lead to the initiation of a Needs Assessment or not. Once the local authority agrees to initiate the assessment, they will begin to collect statutory advice and write a ‘draft’ plan, and so the process is under way.
If your school will not complete an EHCP Needs Assessment Request, then you have the right to go straight to your local authority and request one yourself. I will go into further detail in a later blog!
Chloe Moore 2020