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Busting the EHC plan myths

You may hear things from different sources about the EHC plan process. We've listed some of the most common things people hear and explained what really happens. 

Supporting children and young people with SEND without an EHC plan

Table to show information about myths around EHC plans
The mythWhat really happens
All children and young people with SEND need an EHC plan. Their needs can't be met without one. 

Most children and young people with SEND can have their needs met in inclusive mainstream schools, early years settings or further education without an EHC plan. Their needs can be met with SEN support by using a graduated response.

An EHC plan is for children and young people who can't have all their special educational needs met by the help available at their school or educational setting and need extra support through a person-centred plan.

Schools don't have any money for supporting children with SEND unless they have an EHC plan.

Schools receive funding to meet the SEND needs of children without an EHC plan. This is funding that schools already have and they decide how to spend it. It's called the notional SEN budget and is £6,000 per year. 

The school should use this money to meet a child's SEND needs and put in place a graduated response, for example, putting in additional support or getting professional advice, such as that from an educational psychologist. 

Request for a needs assessment for an EHC plan

Table to show information about myths around EHC plans
The mythWhat really happens
Children and young people need a diagnosis before a request can be made.  Children and young people do not need to have a diagnosis to request a needs assessment for an EHC plan
Children and young people need an EHC plan if they have a diagnosis, for example, for autism. Most children and young people with SEND, including those with specific diagnoses such as autism, can have their needs met in inclusive mainstream schools, early years settings or further education without an EHC plan. 
It's quicker for a parent to request a needs assessment than waiting for the school or educational setting to do it.

Whether it's a school or a parent who makes the request, the assessment process takes up to 20 weeks. It's no quicker for a parent and we'll still need to write to the school to ask them to complete the request form. 

We recommend that parents speak to the school or educational setting before making a parental request for a needs assessment. This is so the school can explain how they're supporting the child or young person and whether they have all the information needed to support a request. 

If a school or educational setting says that they won't make a request for a needs assessment or that one isn't needed, a parent can't then make the request themselves. 

A parent or carer can make a request for a needs assessment, even if an educational setting won't do so. Once we receive the parental request, we'll write to the school or educational setting to ask them to complete the request form. 

A needs assessment for an EHC plan will automatically include assessments from a range of professionals who haven't been involved with a child or young person. 

During a needs assessment we have to ask for advice from:

  • the educational setting
  • an educational psychologist
  • social care
  • health

We'll only ask for advice from other professionals, such as children's therapy or speech and language therapy if they're involved, or have been involved in the past. 

Children and young people with medical or physical needs need an EHC plan, even if it doesn't affect their learning.

An EHC plan is education-led and if the child or young person has additional needs that don't affect their access to, or ability to learn, they don't need an EHC plan. Find out more about support for children and young people with medical or physical needs. 

What an EHC plan is and what it can do

Table to show information about myths around EHC plans
The mythWhat really happens
An EHC plan will provide full-time and/or one-to-one teaching assistant support.

The EHC plan describes the support a child or young person needs so they can achieve their outcomes. It could include a level of teaching assistant support, for example, to deliver a particular programme, such as speech and language therapy.

The plan won't say that a child or young person needs full-time, one-to-one support.

Children and young people will automatically be able to get a place at a special school.

Most children and young people with SEND can have their needs met in inclusive mainstream schools, early years settings or further education. 

An EHC plan doesn't guarantee a place at a special school. Places at special schools are based on the needs of the child or young person and have to be agreed by the local authority. 

An EHC plan will continue until a young person is 25 years old.

An EHC plan will be reviewed every year to decide if the child or young person still needs it. If a young person no longer need the additional support they get through their EHC plan, or they no longer have any outcomes to achieve, we will cease the plan.

The review of an EHC plan

Table to show information about myths around EHC plans
The mythWhat really happens
A review can only be once a year. A review has to be held at least once a year. But if there's a good reason we can hold a review at any time. You don't have to wait for the scheduled one. You can have more than one review in a year if you feel you need one.
The more professionals that attend the review meeting, the better. Everyone has to be there.

Professionals should attend if they need to be part of discussions and have something of value to add. Every professional who has worked with a child or young person doesn't need to be there. If they can't attend but need to share new information, they can provide a written contribution. 

Review meetings need to be clear and useful. Sometimes having too many people can make this more difficult. 

Children and young people should be encouraged to attend and contribute to their review meeting. They can sometimes find this more difficult if there are lots of people present. 

You have to be negative about a child or young person. If you're positive about their progress, their support will be reduced or taken away.

A child or young person's progress shows what's working well and helps everyone to understand how best to support them. They may only be making progress because of the level of support they're getting and this will need to continue.

By sharing what's going well as well as what's not working, it can help us match support to the child or young person's changing needs and the outcomes they want to achieve. 

Updating the EHC plan

Table to show information about myths around EHC plans
The mythWhat really happens
The EHC plan needs to be updated every year, following every review.

The EHC plan doesn't have to be updated every year or amended to reflect changes that have happened over time.

We normally only amend an EHC plan when there's a new diagnosis or a substantial change in the child's need or in their provision.

Transport and the EHC plan

Table to show information about myths around EHC plans
The mythWhat really happens
Children and young people with an EHC plan are entitled to transport. Eligibility for help with transport is dependent on our transport policy.

If you want more information or to talk to someone about any of these topics or anything else you've heard, contact the 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team:

Contact the 0 to 25 special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) Assessment Team

Email: senteam@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305224895
Full contact details for Contact the 0 to 25 special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) Assessment Team

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