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What’s the point of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan? – The promise versus the reality

6th February 2019

As the first generation of young adults carrying Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans are leaving school and entering the new no-man’s land of 19–25, rather than seeing excitement at the possibilities and stimulation of the market, we are faced with Local Authorities who don’t have choices available for them and who aren’t ready for adults with SEND extending their learning, in preparation for adulthood.

The Children and Families Act (2014) sets out the regulations placed on Local Authorities and service providers, for meeting the needs of children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities. Part 3 section 37-50 of the Act defines Education, Health and Care plans.

An EHC plan is for children and young adults aged up to 25. It identifies educational, health and social needs and sets out the additional support required to meet those needs. The aim is to have a single plan from birth all the way up to age 25, if the council agrees they need more time to get ready for adulthood. As well as saying what help the child or young adult needs with their education, it outlines what they should be able to achieve if they get that help.

The plan is meant to get education, health care and social care services working together. All too often this isn’t the case.

The interpretation of education by one London Borough has left a young adult with autism and complex learning difficulties unsure of what provision is actually available to her, having been informed that her EHC plan is no longer required because she is not likely to gain an Entry Level 1 qualification. This Local Authority, one year ago, wrote and agreed her EHC plan and made the placement for her continued education at our Post-19 registered specialist education service. The young lady has made outstanding progress towards the outcomes identified in her plan and this has been duly acknowledged by the Local Authority. However, because she is not likely to achieve a “recognised” qualification, which for this Local Authority doesn’t include ASDAN or achievements against Essentials for Living, they feel she no longer requires education.

When asked “Have you met this young adult?” the reply was “No, but that’s not what this is about.”

With that emphatic statement ringing in our ears we are left wondering how the panacea of the Children and Families Act (2014) is ever likely to become a reality.

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