Education, health and care needs assessments and plans: Key points on temporary legislative changes relating to coronavirus (COVID-19)
The duty on early years providers, schools and colleges to co-operate with the local authority in the performance of its SEND duties remains in place. Close working and communication between all parties is a central element in ensuring that children and young people do receive appropriate provision.
Settings, alongside the local authority and health bodies, must use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure or arrange provision. This means that local authorities and health bodies must consider for each child and young person with an EHC plan what they can reasonably provide in the circumstances during the notice period. In deciding what provision would be required, it might be appropriate to consider the following:
Securing something different to the provision stated in the plan, for example in relation to availability of staff, availability of technology and any significant risk that may cause harm
Location where provision is to be provided may be altered, for example early years provider, school, college, community setting, home or clinic
Frequency and timing of provision may be altered or modified in the light of available staff and risks that may cause harm
Method of delivery may be altered, for example virtual rather than face-to-face and smaller rather than larger groups for teaching (where this can be done following the guidance on reducing transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19))
Changes to the person delivering the provision, for example a learning assistant under virtual supervision rather than a specialist therapist or teacher
For signposting about an EHC assessment or annual review please contact:
Gary Saul – Team Manager
Charlie Lowe – Deputy Team Manager
Bradford’s SENDIASS will continue to have a key role to play in supporting families in finding the best ways forward. Parent and Young Persons rights of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) remain unchanged; Mediation services continue as normal either virtually or remotely. One change is that the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has temporarily suspended all casework activity. We would encourage early years providers, schools and colleges to signpost families to SENDIASS where appropriate:
- 01274 513300
The government have launched the Oak National Academy. This brand-new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from some of the leading schools across England, backed by government grant funding. It will provide 180 video lessons each week, across a broad range of subjects from maths to art to languages, for every year group from Reception through to Year 10.
The 20 week process
The local authority must still consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment or a re-assessment. Where the local authority decides to carry out an EHC needs assessment, it must still secure all of the required advice and information in order to be able to issue a plan.
From 1 May to 25 September 2020 (inclusive) the Regulations which provide most of the statutory timescales for the EHC needs assessments and plans processes will be modified.
- A reason related to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) may make it impractical to complete the next stage of the process on time. In such a situation, the local authority will need to proceed to conclude the next stage as soon as practicable rather than within the statutory deadlines (16 weeks if it decides not to issue a plan, 20 weeks otherwise) (Regulations 10(1) and 13(2)).
- If it is impractical for the local authority to meet the initial 6 week deadline because of a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), then it must instead reach that decision as soon as practicable.
Upon referral, signed consent must be provided else the EHC assessment process cannot continue. We have enclosed a training manual as well as the new referral form which must be completed when submitting a request.
- We will endeavour to make decisions to assess by week 6.
- The decision to assess is based on existing advice, therefore we request that you ensure the EHC assessment referral is comprehensive and that you submit evidence which you have gathered through your APDR cycles.
- This may include the child / young persons My Support Plan as well as professional advice you have commissioned.
To prevent prolonging the process, an Educational Psychologist will endeavour to provide advice using a range of assessment methods. This could include using existing reports, have telephone conversations with parents/carers and children and young people, speaking to professionals, etc. Settings will receive correspondence via email and arrange a conference call or video consultation with the SENCO / relevant professionals at the setting. Parents / carers and the child / young person will also be contacted for their views.
If an EHC plan is agreed:
- in parallel with sending the EHC plan and consultation to name your setting via email, an Officer will also endeavour to contact you by phone. Please ensure messaging facilities are available in case you are not.
- Where possible parents will be emailed a copy of the draft EHC plan and phoned to ensure this has arrived by a Senior Officer; parents still have 15 days to give views and make representations on the content of a draft plan.
- A co-production meeting will be held virtually if parent requests any amends to the draft.
- We will endeavour to issue the final within the 20 week timescale.
The legislation around annual reviews remains the same. For instance, where the needs of the child and young person may have changed, it may be necessary for the local authority to conduct an early review of the EHC plan.
6 weeks prior to the review
- Invitations must be sent out to parents and relevant professionals
- Reports are requested at this point to be submitted to form a pre review pack
2 weeks prior to the review
- SENCO to collate reports from all invited and distribute as a pre review pack 2 weeks prior to the annual review
- To note, this requirement hasn’t changed even with the reforms in 2015
- School should ask for opinions of those who read the pack and collate these comments to feedback to parent at the review meeting
- Such would always be requested if someone was unable to attend
- The meeting itself could be a phone conversation between parent and setting. The conversation will need to be minuted in the Annual Review paperwork
- SENCO will need to feedback the thoughts of professionals collated in the pre review pack.
- An update against the outcomes and report progress will be required
- If the setting are indicating they can no longer meet need then they must indicate this within the review minutes
- If a personal budget is being requested or reviewed the school must indicate if they would be or are still agreement with such.
2 weeks following the review
- This is then submitted to the LA to progress and take to panel
Consultations and admissions
Whilst the Secretary of State for Education now has powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020 by notice temporarily to disapply the duty to admit, he has not issued any such notice at this point in time.
- Where a setting is temporarily closed, the setting must still admit. In the case of a school or college, the child or young person must be placed on the roll and treated in the same way as other pupils or students in the setting.
- The timescales for education settings to respond to a proposal to name them in an EHC plan has not changed.
- The expectation in the SEND Code of Practice that local authorities give early years providers, schools and colleges up to 15 days to respond to a proposal to name their institution in an EHC plan remains in place.
- While settings may remain closed to pupils or students, we look to them to make arrangements that enable them to continue to respond to consultations on future admissions during this period.
Current EYFS, year 5 and 10 young people will require a transition review where preferences are gathered regarding placements for Primary school, Year 7 and Post 16 placements for September 2021. Below are two intermediate dates where we require preferences and Annual Reviews completed by:
- Friday 18th September 2020 - requests for Specialist Provision (including Resourced Provisions)
- Friday 24th October 2020 – request for mainstream provisions
Parents, carers and young people will receive letters requesting their preferences by the end of June 2020. It is our intention to strive towards being an electronic service therefore would request that responses are via email. We understand that some families may not have the facilities to respond in this way; you can support as providers by emailing our service on their behalf with their preferences. Please respond to the below email address using the following codes in the body of your email response:
- PP1 – name of setting
- PP2 – name of setting
- PP3 – name of setting
We will also provide all schools with a copy of the letter sent to parents. We ask that you support your families and ensure that they have received our correspondence, if not then please pass on a copy of the placement request letter. Our service will be updating EHC plans from June 2020 for those year groups; therefore the sooner these can be completed the swifter these can be processed to give our officers adequate time to update the EHC plans.
Please find below the timescales regarding when the final placements will be announced:
- Primary and Year 7 placements will be announced by February 15th 2021
- Post 16 placements will be announced by March 31st 2021
Addresses and contact details
To ensure that our children and young persons personal details and kept safe, we require schools to complete the below risk assessment which will also provide our service with an update of:
- Physical addresses
- Telephone numbers
- Email addresses (priority)
This will enable us to cross check and quality assure our systems to ensure that our records are accurate.
Example of Risk and provision assessment please click here.