New legislation requires local authorities to replace statements of SEN with Education Health and Care (EHC) plans by 31 March 2018.
In Sheffield, this process got off to a slow start. There are still almost 1,000 statements left to be converted (as of May 2017).
This article describes the conversion process for those learners who still have a statement.
When will my child’s statement be converted?
All children and young people who still have a statement of SEN must have their transfer review meeting before the end of November 2017, so that their EHC plans can be finalised by 31 March 2018.
Children who are starting in Y2 or Y6 this September must have their transfer review meeting before October half term, because their final EHC plan must be issued by 15 February 2018. For more information, download a conversion plan.
If the transfer review of your child’s statement hasn’t been completed by 31 March 2018, then the statement will continue to remain in force until a transfer review has been completed.
Is there anyone who can help me with this?
A free service called Independent Support is available to help you through the conversion process. In Sheffield, this is provided by a company called Core Assets*.
Alternatively, you can also ask SENDIAS* (a council-run service, formerly known as Parent Partnership) for information, advice and support.
Preparing for the transfer review meeting
The first thing you hear about the conversion will probably be a letter from the local authority (LA) requesting your permission to share information about your child with the health service. It’s important that you respond to this – if you don’t, important health information (e.g. paediatrician’s reports) may not be included in your child’s EHC plan!
Next, your child’s school will contact you to arrange a date for the transfer review meeting. This meeting will be held at school in place of the annual review meeting of the statement. You should know by mid July 2017 at the latest when your child’s transfer review meeting will take place. If you haven’t heard anything by then, contact your SENCO.
The school will invite all the professionals who are currently involved with your child to attend the meeting or send a report. The school should discuss this with you and ask you if there is anyone else who should be asked for their input. They should also ask you if you or your child need any adjustments to be made to enable you to attend the meeting.
To prepare for the transfer review meeting, the school needs complete parts 1-3 of the conversion report template. This includes gathering information from you and your child about your child’s journey to date, their likes and dislikes, what they need help with, and their aspirations for the future. The school can use a form provided by the LA to do this, or they can use other tools. They also need to provide information about your child’s strengths and needs – a bit like part 2 of the statement, but covering health and social care as well as education. The school should share this information with you before the meeting. NB: A new report template was introduced in May 2017. Old paperwork may still be used for conversions that were started before this point.
Two weeks before the meeting, you will receive a letter from the LA giving you formal notice of your child’s transfer review. This marks the start of the 20-week timescale for issuing a final EHC plan.
Any reports, including the pre-completed parent and school information for the conversion report, must be circulated at least two weeks before the meeting.
- Tell the SEN Assessment and Placement Team* if you think that any of the assessment reports on which the statement is based are out of date, or if new needs have come to light which have not yet been fully investigated. The LA must then seek new advice. Services have six weeks to respond.
- If you have any private assessment reports which you think would be useful, submit them as well.
- If you gave permission for the LA to share information with the health service, any health professionals who have had involvement with your child in the previous 12 months will be invited to the transfer review meeting and asked to produce a report. If you want olderhealth reports to be considered, tell the LA now.
- If your child is aged 16 or over, the LA will write to them directly. If you think your child lacks mental capacity to make decisions in relation to their EHC plan, you should inform the SEN Assessment and Placement Team. Let them know if you want to act as your child’s representative.
The transfer review meeting
The purpose of the transfer review meeting is to discuss your child’s progress, to agree whether an EHC plan is required, and if so, to agree the content of the plan.
The transfer review meeting will normally be held at school and should be attended by the parents, the child or young person (if appropriate), relevant professionals and school staff. A representative from the LA will attend if possible. You can ask a friend, family member, personal assistant or other professional to accompany you. The meeting will normally be chaired by the SENCO.
The discussion should be person-centred and focus on your child’s aspirations, the outcomes they will be working towards, steps towards meeting those outcomes and provision required to do so. Discussion should also take place as to whether an EHC plan is needed, and whether there are any requests for a change in provision and/or placement. If your child is in Y9 or above, the meeting must also cover planning for adulthood.
You must be asked if you would like a personal budget. A personal budget gives you an overview of the money allocated to your child through the EHC plan. You may be able to receive some of this money as a direct payment to purchase the provision yourself (subject to certain restrictions). More information about personal budgets
After the meeting
After the meeting, the SENCO completes the conversion report. It is good practice to send a draft report to the parents and invite them to make comments. The SENCO needs to submit the report to the SEN Assessment and Placement Team within two weeks of the meeting.
Once the SEN Assessment and Placement Team have received the paperwork, they will decide whether your child requires an EHC plan. If the decision is yes (and it almost always is), the SEN officer writes a draft EHC plan and sends it to you and your child’s school. You then have 15 calendar days to request amendments. If you need more time, you can ask for an extension. An SEN officer must meet with you if you request this. If you have requested amendments, the LA will consider these and may send you a revised draft of the plan.
The LA must issue a final EHC plan within 20 weeks of the start of the transfer review process. They must send the final plan to you/your young person, the school and the professionals involved.
The EHC plan is then implemented. This means that the LA must arrange the special educational provision described in section F, the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group must arrange the health provision described in section G, and the setting named in section I must admit your child. Just like a statement, an EHC plan must be reviewed at least annually.
If you are not happy
If you are not happy with the education sections of final plan (sections B, F and I), you have the right to appeal to the SEN and Disability First-Tier Tribunal*. You must do this within two months of the date of the final EHC plan. More information about tribunal appeals
If you are unhappy with the health or social care sections of the plan (sections C, D, G, H1 and H2), you need to use the complaints procedures of these services.
It is best to try and resolve any issues while your child’s EHC plan is still at the draft stage. SENDIAS* can support you with this, or you may want to use an independent disagreement resolution service (currently provided by Collis Mediation Ltd.*).
*Contact details of services mentioned in this article
SENDIAS: tel. 0114 273 6009, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Core Assets: tel. 0800 028 8455, email ISreferrals@coreassets.com
SEN Assessment and Placement Team: tel. 0114 273 6394, email email@example.com
SEN and Disability First-Tier Tribunal: tel. 01325 289 350, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Collis Mediation: Ltd. tel. 07715 958 290, email email@example.com