From September 2014 Walsall Local Authority has had a duty to transfer children and young people’s statements to Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans, as well as providing the opportunity for young people with Learning Difficulty Assessments to convert to EHC Plans if they continue in education or training.
EHC plans cover the 0 to 25 age range. - Where 19-25-year olds remain in education or training, and specific educational provision is still required, they will be able to have an EHC Plan. The legal status of EHC plans is the same as for statements, and the same eligibility criteria apply:
‘Where the special education provision required to meet the child or young person’s needs cannot reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available to mainstream early years providers, schools and post-16 institutions’. (1996 Education Act).
Therefore, where a child or young person remains eligible for additional support, they will have their statement converted to an EHC Plan. Walsall Local Authority may decide that a child or young person no longer requires a statement because special educational provision beyond what is normally available is no longer needed, either because the needs have changed or because the services required can be provided without a statement.
The Department for Education has recognised that transferring statements to EHC Plans is ‘a significant undertaking’ and that timescales have put a strain on the system that risks ‘undermining the person-centred quality of EHC Plans’ so has set a phased transition period for which the completion date for all transfers is the end of March 2018.
So far Walsall Local Authority has converted:
We have completed 1500 conversions and 200 remain in process. -- We expect to meet the March 31st deadline of completing these. We have prioritised children and young people who are at key stages of transition-years 6, years 9 and years 11 but now are focusing on all.
What is the process?
To transfer a child or young person from a statement to an EHC Plan, we will undertake a transfer review, which will allow for outcomes to be developed for inclusion in an EHC plan and provision identified to support the child or young person to achieve those outcomes. Until the Transfer Review is completed Walsall Local Authority will remain under a duty to maintain the statement of SEN and arrange the special educational provision set out in the statement.
To conduct a Transfer Review, we will:
1. Give at least two weeks’ notice of the Transfer Review -- We will write to parents and young people who are due to be transferred to the new system, giving at least two weeks’ notice, and at the same time provide information about their rights of appeal.
2. Undertake an EHC needs assessment -- We will consult family and professionals about the information already available. No further advice will be required where this has previously been provided, and the person providing that advice, the local authority and the child’s parents or the young person are satisfied that it is sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs assessment.
3. Invite the child’s parents or the young person to a meeting to contribute to the Transfer Review, in advance of the EHC plan being finalised. This meeting will be held either in the school /education setting and take the format of an annual review, or the parent/young person will be invited to meet a local authority caseworker directly.
Before the transfer review meeting, copies of the EHC needs assessment information will be sent to parents and young people, the school or setting and other professionals.
The transfer review will be concluded when we will either:
- Send copies of the finalised EHC plan to the child’s parent or young person, the governing body and proprietor principal of any school or other institution named on the plan.
- Notify the child’s parents or young person of our decision that it is not necessary for special education provision to be made and the statement will cease.
The transfer review must be completed within 20 weeks.
Our aim is that children, young people and families should experience well-co-ordinated assessment and planning leading to timely, well informed decisions and the following general principles underpin assessment and planning, which lead to a person-centred approach:
- focus on the child or young person as an individual
- enable children and young people and their parents to express their views, wishes and feelings
- enable children and young people and their parents to be part of the decision-making process
- be easy for children, young people and their parents or carers to understand, and use clear ordinary language and images rather than professional jargon
- highlight the child or young person’s strengths and capabilities
- enable the child or young person, and those that know them best to say what they have done, what they are interested in and what outcomes they are seeking in the future
- tailor support to the needs of the individual
- organise assessments to minimise demands on families.