Demystifying SEN support in schools Part Three: EHCPs and appeals

What you'll learn


EHCP and Appeals

  • The deadline from request of EHC needs assessment from the LA to the LA finalising the EHCP is 20 weeks, subject to limited exceptions.
  • If the LA decide not to issue a EHCP following assessment they must notify the parent or YP within a maximum of 16 weeks from the date of request.
  • Often nothing has happened in the 20 week period, which becomes a breach of statutory duty on the LA’s part and the appeal process begins.

If your child has special educational needs (SEN) but the SEN help they’re receiving through the school is not meeting their needs it might be useful to pursue an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

Getting an EHCP is not a simple, straightforward process and can often lead to failure and an appeal process. It’s really important to go through the appeals process because ⅔ of cases are found in favour of parents.

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An EHCP is a legal document issued by your local authority and describes all your child’s needs and current functioning. It will set out the provision needed by your child and should name a school in which support is to be given. This is then paid for by the local authority.

An EHCP must be issued where, in light of an EHC needs assessment, it is necessary for special educational provision needs to be made for a child.

The process to obtain an EHCP needs to start with application for an EHC needs assessment through your local authority (LA). Due to budget restraints and staff shortages you may be discouraged from applying and rather follow the Assess, Plan, Do, Review process that schools carry out.

However, you need to do what’s best for your child and not be dissuaded. Often, you are the professional where your child is concerned and will know what your child needs, more about than the SENDCO’s and LA.

If the LA decides not to issue an EHC plan, it must tell the parent or young person within 16 weeks of the date the request for an assessment was made. The parent or young person can appeal this decision to the SEND Tribunal.

If the LA decides to issue an EHC plan, it will first send out a draft plan for the parent or young person to review and comment on. It should then send the final EHC plan to the parent or young person within 20 weeks from the date the assessment was requested. In order to meet this deadline they would need to send out the draft plan a maximum of 14 weeks from the date the assessment was requested.

More information on the timeline is available here

The process to obtain an EHCP is supposed to take 20 weeks but often nothing has happened in that time. This then becomes a breach of statutory duty on the LA’s part and the appeal process begins.

The most important aspect of the process is building a persuasive body of evidence. The odds are in the favour of parents in the appeal process.

Around two thirds of cases for tribunal are found in favour of parents so it’s always a good idea to appeal.

It can be really helpful to get medical and other professionals involved with your child, e.g., CAMHS, to write a helpful report pointing out the links between behaviour and neurodivergence. 

Reasonable adjustments can be anything that helps your child thrive in the school environment.

There’s a long list of reasonable adjustments for children with ADHD, Tourette’s (page 8), autism and sensory processing difficulties.

Here are just a handful to consider from the guide on reasonable adjustments for children with ADHD:

  • Relaxing uniform requirements
  • Adjustments to behaviour policy
  • Reduce number of GCSEs
  • Not required to do homework at all
  • Moving lessons to ground floor classrooms if a child has a physical disability…
  • Movement breaks or activities that enables child to move in between lessons

There are a number of organisations and options for support, resources and advice about SEN, EHCPs and appeals.

  • SOS SEN & IPSEA – both charities offering free and independent advice
  • SENDIASS – a free service run by your local authority – good if you can’t access any other help
  • Support groups – information and shared experience to help with feelings of isolation
  • Coaches – for different types of disability. Not providing legal services but support and management
  • Equality and human rights commission (EHRC) – advice and on occasion can fund private solicitors or provide an in house solicitor.

Once your child has been issued an EHCP, it is the duty of the local authority to review the EHC plans once every 12 months. Here’s some updated information of what this process entails.

For more guidance, we created a course “Raising Girls with ADHD” which goes into condensed learning of what parents need to be aware of. 

Want more tailored support for the parents in your organisations or settings?

We run workshops to support parents of ND kids navigate advocacy at school, parent and child relationship, and the elusive work life balance.

We also provide ND training to organisations and educational settings. Register to listen to Sam Hiew’s talk about “Neurodiversity Through the Family Life Cycle” at Witherslack Group‘s Supporting Parents & Carers: Virtual ADHD Conference.

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