Stockton Council is introducing the changes to Special Educational Needs (SEN) procedures through its Transition Plan. These changes include replacing statements for children with special educational needs and disabilities with a new integrated assessment and a single Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan). This section of the Local Offer is being developed to provide information on Assessments & Education Health & Care Plans
Children and young people with more complex needs may need more detailed assessment and may need an Education Health and Care Plan. The Education Health and Care Plan will replace statements of special educational need and Learning Difficulty Assessments.
Why might a child or young person need an Education Health and Care Assessment?
An assessment might be needed in order for the Local Authority to decide whether it needs to make provision in accordance with a plan. This means that a child or young person may need a more intensive level of specialist help that cannot be met from the resources normally available to schools and other settings to provide SEN support.
An assessment may not always mean a child or young person receives an Education Health and Care Plan but it can provide extra information to help the education provider meet their needs.
In Stockton-on-Tees we would expect a child or young person to need an Education Health and Care assessment and an Education, Health and Care Plan if they needed to attend a special school or specialist setting (e.g. the Early Support Nursery), or if they are over 19 and need special educational provision.
We would not necessarily expect a child or young person to need an assessment or a plan to receive high needs top up funding in mainstream education including further education (see insert link on high needs funding). We would also not necessarily expect them to need an assessment or plan to access a place in one of Stockton-on-Tees’ enhanced mainstream schools (for further information on the provisions please follow this link.
How can an assessment be requested?
An assessment can be requested for a child or young person aged between 0-25, by a parent/carer, by a young person or by the child or young person’s education provider.
If a parent/carer or young person thinks that an Education Health and Care assessment is needed it is helpful for them to talk to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) of the child’s education setting in the first instance. They will be able to advise on the process and how the request can be made.
A request for assessment can now be made via the SEN Portal. The Portal provides two access areas professional / citizen, the link to the portal and a user guide can be found on the hompage.
Parents / Carers can also talk to the SEND IASS Officer (formerly Parent Partnership Officer) who can assist them in making a request for an assessment. The SEND IASS Officer can be contacted on 01642 527158 or SENDIASS@stockton.gov.uk . Further information about the SEND IASS Officer be found at this link.
Alternatively a parent/carer or young person can write to request an assessment. They can write to:
SEN & Engagement Service
4th Floor Queensway House
What happens after an assessment is requested?
Once a request has been made the Local Authority will decide whether to carry out an assessment. As part of this the Local Authority will look at all the information available including from parents/carers and from the child or young person’s education provider. The Local Authority has to inform parents/carers or the young person within 6 weeks of receiving the request for assessment whether they will carry it out.
The Local Authority will expect that a child or young person has been supported through SEN support, that there is clear evidence that despite appropriate action being taken over time by the education provider they are not making expected progress, and that parent/carers have been closely involved throughout this process before a decision will be made to undertake an Education Health and Care assessment (except in exceptional circumstances.)
What happens during an assessment?
The whole assessment process must take no longer than 20 weeks (except in a few exceptional circumstances) from the Local Authority receiving the request for assessment.
The Local Authority will use a person centred approach to make sure that parents/carers and children/young people are fully involved. Further information on this is available.
The Local Authority will collect information from professionals and from parents/carers and the young person. The professionals will include:
- The manager, headteacher or principal of the education provider
- An educational psychologist
- Social care
- Health care professionals
Parents/carers may request that certain professionals are asked for information.
Once all the information is collected there will be a meeting to prepare an initial draft of an Education Health and Care plan. This will then be sent to the Local Authority and a decision will be made on whether a plan is necessary.
How is an Education Health and Care Plan prepared?
If the Local Authority decides that a child or young person needs a plan then a draft plan will be confirmed and sent to parents/carers and young people. There will be 15 days for comment on the draft plan and parents/carers or the young person can request a specific school or setting.
A final plan is then prepared which will be reviewed at least every 12 months.
What about personal budgets?
Parents/carers of a child with an Education, Health and Care Plan or a young person with a plan can request a personal budget linked to the plan. Further information about personal budgets can be found at An Introduction to Personal Budgets.
What happens if the Local Authority decides a plan is not needed?
If the Local Authority decides a plan is not needed then they must let the parent/carers or young person know and give reasons for the decision. The Local Authority will ensure that parents/carers or the young person are aware of the resources available to meet special educational needs without a plan.
The Local Authority will provide information collected during the assessment process which will help the education provider meet the child or young persons’ needs.
What happens if a parent/carer or young person disagrees with the Local Authority decisions?
Parents/carers and young people have the right to challenge the Local Authority’s decisions on:
- Not carrying out an Education, Health and Care assessment
- Not producing an Education, health and Care plan
- The special educational support included in the plan.
The SEND IASS Officer will be able to provide advice and support regarding any disagreements. Further information on how to do this will be provided during the process and can also be found at (insert link to information about complaints/tribunals etc)
How can I find out more information?
Parents/carers can contact the SEND IASS Officer to find out more information. The SEND IASS Officer can be contacted on 01642 527158 or SENDIASS@stockton.gov.uk . They can also go to
- The Special educational needs and disability code of practice:0-25 years (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25 )
- Special educational needs and disability: A guide for parents and carers (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-guide-for-parents-and-carers )