This section describes the process followed in Gateshead in order to decide whether a child/young person is eligible for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan; also referred to as a 'Single Plan' in Gateshead) and the support available if they do receive one.
How to request an EHC (Single) Plan assessment
In most cases, children and young people identified as having complex SEN will be referred for an EHC Plan assessment by a relevant professional, for example a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), teacher, educational psychologist, or health worker. However, parents and carers can also request the Local Authority (LA) carry out an assessment - see contact details at the bottom of this page for further information.
How long does it take to decide whether an assessment will go ahead?
The LA needs to decide whether an assessment will go ahead within 6 weeks of a referral being received. The decision whether to go ahead with an assessment is made by the LA's Special Educational Needs and Disability Team (SEND) Manager. If they feel that there isn’t enough evidence to go ahead with the assessment, the request will be considered by the SEND Panel for a second opinion.
What happens during the assessment?
If an assessment goes ahead, the LA will ask the child’s parents or the young person for their views as well as assessments from a range of people such as the head teacher, principal or early years provider, a health care professional, an Educational Psychologist, a qualified teacher of the visually impaired or hearing impaired, or social worker.
This information must be provided within 6 weeks and the SEND Panel then decides whether an EHC (Single) Plan is deemed necessary. If it is, a draft Plan will be circulated to all involved. An action planning meeting is then held to discuss the child's needs and what support will be allocated to the child/young person. Parents/carers and the young person if aged over 16 will be invited to this meeting along with all of the people that have provided information during the assessment.
The following documents highlight what happens at each key stage of the 20 week EHC (Single) Plan process and an A-Z of key contacts:
How is it decided what level of support a child receives?
The support a child receives is based on their individual needs. In most cases, educational needs that have been identified can be met from the school’s Element 2 funding, however, the SEND Panel will consider whether the child/young person might require Element 3 funding, a placement at an Additionally Resourced Mainstream School (ARMS) or a specialist school/college placement. The SEN Code of Practice states that the child's parent or the young person (if aged over 16) has the right to request a particular school, college or other institution and the LA must comply with that preference and name the school or college in the EHC Plan unless:
- it would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child/young person, or
- the attendance of the child/young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources.
In addition to the educational support a child/young person needs, the SEND Panel also considers if the child/young person has any health and social care needs and includes this information in their Plan.
What support is available?
The support a child receives is based on their individually assessed needs. If they have an EHC (Single) Plan the kind of support you can expect them to receive in Gateshead is described in more detail on the following pages:
You can request a personal budget (506Kb) for some of the support that you receive.
How is support reviewed?
Review meetings are held where your child’s progress will be looked at, plans for the next term/year will be discussed, new aims and targets will be set and changes to the Plan will be made if necessary; for example if they require more or less support. This will include any support they are receiving across education, health and social care. A formal annual review meeting must be held for children/young people with an EHC Plan.
Children who are looked after by the LA (Section 32 of the Children and Families Act 2014) will have a Care Plan which includes a Personal Education Plan (PEP). The Care Plan statutory reviews should be timed wherever possible with the annual EHC Plan review.
If a child is classed as a ‘Child In Need’ under Section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989, a review is required every 6 months. Again, this review should be timed to coincide with the annual EHC Plan review.
What can I do if I disagree with a decision made by the LA?
If you disagree with the Local Authority’s decision about an EHC Assessment or Plan, there are 3 things you can do:
- Arrange a meeting with Local Authority officers to discuss the reasons behind a decision and try to agree a way forward.
- Request mediation via the LA's SEND Team (contact details below).
- Appeal to the SEN and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) – if you wish to do this, you must apply to the Tribunal within 2 months of receiving your refusal letter.
What happens if a young person with an EHC Plan is detained in youth custody?
This document explains what arrangements are in place in Gateshead to ensure that relevant support is provided to young people with an EHC Plan who are detained in youth custody.
Who can help explain things to me?
The world of SEN can be confusing but there are lots of people who are trained and experienced who can help you through the assessment process and help support you and your child.
For children and young people currently converting from a statement of SEN or a Learning Difficulties Assessment (LDA) to an EHC Plan, or those due to go through the assessment process for a new EHC Plan, an Independent Supporter from Core Assets Children's Services can help. They can:
- Help the parent or young person understand the local referral process and local offer
- Act as a named contact person for the parent or young person during the EHC assessment and planning process
- Support parents and young people through the transfer of a Statement of SEN or Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) to an EHC plan (transfer reviews)
- Support parents and young people to complete paperwork including Parental Views and My Story requests
- Support schools, colleges and community organisations to raise awareness of the EHC process
- Work with parents of children who are new EHC referrals, and/or young people (and their parents) who are coming up to school leaving age and would have had a LDA under the old system
- Understand the range of local services and supporting the parent or young person to decide who should contribute the information required for an EHC needs assessment plan.
For further information phone: 0800 028 8455
If your child has SEN but does not have an EHC Plan, don't worry, there is still lots of support available to them.
Gateshead’s Family Information Directory has a Local Offer section holding information about the advice, support and services available for parents with children with SEN or disabilities in Gateshead.
By registering your child on the Gateshead Network of Children with Disabilities they will receive free or discounted access to leisure centres, swimming pools and cultural and historic places of interest in Gateshead.
A variety of inclusive and accessible activities are available for children, young people and families at Gateshead Children’s Centres.
Find out what support may be available to you as a carer of a child with a disability.
Early Support is a government funded programme, which aims to ensure that children with SEN or disabilities and their families are able to live ‘ordinary’ lives. The Early Support website contains a wide range of information resources which cover a range of different topics and conditions, disabilities and difficulties.
The Council for Disabled Children have published an easy-read factsheet for parents explaining the SEND reforms and a series of fact sheets, films and posters are designed to help children and young people understand some of the key themes of the new reforms including EHC plans, Post-16 support, the Local Offer and making decisions.