By Rosie and Jo’s mum
“She’ll never get a statement.” The confident words of various school staff to me on the occasions that I raised the possibility of requesting a statutory assessment for one of my daughters. They were always absolutely sure they were right.
At the times of the conversations, both girls were making academic progress. Both were highly anxious and struggling to even get into school. Both had a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Both masked their difficulties in school. Both schools were adamant that there was no point in applying whatsoever. Both girls’ needs were unmet and professionals outside school agreed so I applied anyway.
Both girls were accepted for statutory assessment straight away and awarded a statement of SEN (the precursor to the EHC plan) at the end of that assessment.
I hear all the time about parents being told that their children won’t get an EHC plan so there is no point in applying for one. They are told it’s because their child is making good academic progress, doesn’t need enough support, doesn’t need any support, only has behavioural problems, isn’t attending school, only has health needs,….. None of these is a good reason to prevent a parent (or a school) from applying for an EHC needs assessment. See here for more about not being far enough behind…
The fact is that your child is entitled to an EHC needs assessment if they have special educational needs that may need to be met with the provision of an EHC plan. That’s it.
The SEN Code of Practice states that “A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.”
You need to be clear about why the assessment is necessary. If a child’s needs are being consistently met well in school from ordinarily available provision, they are making appropriate (to them) academic progress and that support is sustainable, an assessment is not required because it will not achieve anything. Your child doesn’t need an EHC plan just to make sure they keep getting ordinarily available support and LAs have a responsibility to ensure that public funds are used efficiently.
LAs can set their own criteria around which children can be assessed but they must be flexible about applying those criteria. You can and should challenge any rules that mean your child doesn’t qualify. From the SEN Code of Practice; “Local authorities must not apply a ‘blanket’ policy to particular groups of children or certain types of need, as this would prevent the consideration of a child’s or young person’s needs individually and on their merits.”
If it is clear to you that your child’s needs cannot be met effectively in school and this is having a detrimental effect on their education, you need to ask for an EHC needs assessment.
If your child needs support that the school is telling you that they don’t have the resources to provide, you need to ask for an EHC needs assessment.
You don’t have to know exactly what support your child needs at this stage. Identifying needs and appropriate support is the whole point of the assessment.
You are not asking for an EHC plan. Nobody can or should try to tell you at this stage whether your child would be awarded one. You are just asking for an assessment. This is a period in which information will be requested from you, the school and any other professionals it would be appropriate to consult. These, along with your child’s views of their own needs and how they should be met, are then collated and considered by a panel of professionals. Those professionals decide whether your child’s needs can be met from within the (not inconsiderable) SEN budget already allocated to their school or whether additional resources are required, in which case an EHC plan may be issued.
The LA must inform you within six weeks of receiving your request whether they will be carrying out an assessment. If they decide not to do so, you have a time-limited right of appeal.
You can apply for an EHC needs assessment yourself. The school does not need to be in agreement. You can download a model letter from The IPSEA website.
If you think your child needs one, download it, send it and get that clock ticking.