How to deliver better EHC plans

Council for Disabled Children guidance for local authorities on producing education, health and care plans for SEND children.

Local authorities are required to transfer all children with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) onto education, health and care (EHC) plans by 1 April 2018. EHC plans outline the health, education and social care support required to meet the needs of children up to the age of 25.

But latest Department for Education data shows that by January 2016, just 20 per cent of 227,000 children had been transferred to EHC plans, while a third of parent carer forums - bodies set up to monitor progress of implementing the changes - are confident councils are on track.

With authorities struggling to deliver EHC plans, the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has developed a guide using the hypothetical case of 13-year-old Jay to illustrate good practice.

Educational needs

  • Ensure each special educational need is articulated separately so you can check there is provision there to meet each need.

Jay's plan says:

  • Jay has autism spectrum disorder and acute anxiety which affects his ability to learn. He reacts when he is interrupted when doing a task, which can lead to missing lessons.
  • He struggles to structure his written work or the way he communicates verbally. He needs help in understanding how to execute a task and concepts need to be repeated several times before he can commit them to memory.
  • He is disorganised, forgets which class he is meant to be in, often arrives late and takes time to settle. This increases his anxiety.
  • His speech and language skills are delayed, limiting his ability to interact. Jay has difficulties recognising how people feel and is uneasy working in groups. He has no friendship patterns.

Child's views

  • The EHC plan should outline the child's and parent's views, interests and aspirations.

Health needs

  • Use simple language so a non-specialist can understand it.
  • Avoid too much complex or historical medical information.
  • Focus on practical implications of health conditions.
  • Where a child is not known to health services and there is no relevant specialist health need, this should be clearly articulated.

Jay's plan says:

  • Jay has autism spectrum disorder and a related anxiety disorder. He has difficulty managing daily tasks and experiences related stress.
  • He has acute anxiety attacks that can prevent him attending school. Physical symptoms of his anxiety include banging his head against the wall.

Social care needs

  • Information can come from a variety of professionals, such as teachers, social or youth workers.
  • If a child is not known to social care services, it does not mean there are no social care needs.
  • When requesting social care advice, relevant information that has already been collected about the child's social care needs and outcomes should be passed to the professional providing advice.

Jay's plan says:

  • Jay struggles in social situations, particularly with children his own age, although he does attend a drama group. But his anxiety of using public transport prevents regular attendance.
  • Jay's behaviour is more difficult during holidays, monopolising his mother's time. This impacts on her ability to care for her other children causing family stress.

Outcomes sought

  • Short-term, service-level targets should be included in an appendix, not as outcomes.
  • Outcomes should match up with the young person's aspirations.
  • They should be joined up across education, health and social care.

Jay's plan says:

  • School attendance has risen from 75 to 90 per cent.
  • Jay's tolerance has improved, so his time out of the classroom is no more than once a week.
  • Jay produces coherent pieces of written work without adult help.
  • He arrives at class on time.
  • He has the confidence to audition for a part in a drama production and has two friends.

EHC provision

  • General: Set out what is going to happen and who is going to do it; what skills, qualifications and training they need; how often it will be made available, and when it will be reviewed.
  • Education: Divide the hours of professional time into clearly defined activities which address a particular need.
  • Use grids to make links between outcomes, needs and provisions.
  • Social care: Services provided can be support at home and in the community.
  • Provision may include that identified through early help and child in need assessments.

Jay's plan says:

  • Education: the school counsellor will meet Jay for one hour a week to help manage his anxiety.
  • Jay will have a multi-sensory teaching programme to develop his literacy, organisation and memory skills. A higher level teaching assistant will work with him one hour a day to deliver this.
  • A visual timetable will be drawn up by the SEN co-ordinator and include materials for classes.
  • An hour of dialogue practice with a teaching assistant once a week.
  • Social skills training group provided for 45 minutes a week.
  • Health: Two 10-weekly blocks of cognitive behavioural therapy will be provided to help with coping strategies.
  • A therapist from child and adolescent mental health services will meet the school counsellor termly to provide advice on strategies.
  • Social care: A personal assistant will support Jay to attend drama club once a week for four hours.
  • He will be funded to attend a drama programme during the summer school holidays.

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