1. Be well- prepared
EHCPs are lengthy documents and there can be a lot of ground to cover in meetings with the school or local authority. If parents consider that changes should be made to the EHCP, it can be helpful to produce an annotated version with the proposed amendments, and take copies for the school and local authority. This can save time in meetings and make it easier for everyone to follow what is being discussed.
It’s a good idea to keep a careful note of what is said in the meeting, and any changes to the EHCP that are agreed. Parents may also wish to send a follow-up in writing to the local authority or school to confirm what was discussed and any agreed next steps.
2. Think about your evidence
As part of the EHC needs assessment or annual review process, certain advice from professionals will be gathered to ensure that information about the child or young person’s special educational and health and care needs, outcomes and provision required is up to date.
However, if parents have other evidence which supports their points, it may be helpful to send this to the local authority/school (before any meeting) and highlight which parts should be considered. This could include other professionals’ or therapists’ reports, health service reports or records, school reports, or examples of school work.
3. Get support
Attending a meeting with lots of professionals, school staff and local authority representatives can be daunting. Parents can request to take somebody with them, even if just to be present for support.
4. Know the process
Parents should ensure they are given the correct amount of time to respond or provide their views following a local authority decision or draft EHCP. For example, parents should be given at least two weeks’ notice of an annual review meeting, allowing time for preparation. If the local authority decides to amend the EHCP following an annual review, it should give parents 15 calendar days to make representations about the proposed new Plan.
5. Seek advice
If there are any concerns about the statutory process not being followed, advice should be sought as to the options available. A specialist solicitor can provide advice on next steps, and certain charities also provide information and advice to families on the EHCP process.
The above guidance is for general information only and not intended as legal advice, as each situation is different. For bespoke advice on your particular circumstances, please contact us and we will be happy to speak with you.