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Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find answers to common questions that parents/carers ask about their child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

We hope this saves you time and that you find what you're looking for.  If not, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

Appeals and Tribunals

1. What can I appeal about?

The SEND Code of Practice says that parents and young people can appeal to the Tribunal about;

  • a decision by a Local Authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assesment
  • a decision by a Local Authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC Plan following an assessment
  • the description of a child or young persons SEN specified in an EHC Plan following an assessment
  • the description of a child or young persons SEND specified in an EHC plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution or type of school or other institution (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
  • an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • a decision by a Local Authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by a Local Authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan (11.45) 

You can find out more about appeals to the Tribunal in the SEND Code of Practice, Sections 11.39 to 11.55.

View the SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years

2. What is the Single Route of Redress - National Trial?

From 3rd April 2018, the Government extended the powers of the First-Tier Tribunal (SEND), to make non-binding recomendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a two year trial.  However, it is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.

The DFE has produced a webinar which explains the process - there are also regular updates on how the trial is progressing through a newsletter on the SEND Pathfinder website (scroll down to item 22).

3. How can I find out if I am entitled to Legal Aid?

You may be eligible for Legal Aid, this allows a solicitor's firm to advise and assist you with your case but Legal Help does not extend to representation at the Tribunal Hearing.  Before you can be granted legal aid you must pass a financial means assessment.  You can check your eligibility online or contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4345.

Check if you can get Legal Aid

4. Who can lodge an appeal to the SEND Tribunal?
  • Parents of children (0 to the send of compulsory school age) and
  • Young People over compulsory school age (until they reach 25) where they have the mental capacity to make the decision or their representative/parents where they lack capacity
5. What are the time limits to lodge an appeal?

If you wish to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) you first have to consider whether to enter mediation and obtain a certificate saying you have considered it (unless your appeal is only about the name of the school/college or type of school/college name in the plan).  Please read the Disagreement Resolution and Mediation Factsheet for more information on mediation.

An appeal has to be received by the Tribunal;

  • within 2 months after the decision letter was sent by the Local Authority (LA) or
  • 1 month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later

The time limit for claims may be extended in exceptional circumstances but only if the Tribunal considers it appropriate to do so.  Parents and Young People should always aim to lodge their appeal within the time limits.

6. How do I lodge my appeal with the Tribunal?

You must complete an appeal form providing your reasons for appealing.  Please ensure you complete the correct form, these can be found on the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) website.

Visit the Tribunal website

Appeal forms and supporting documents can now be submitted electronically.

Email your completed forms

Along with your appeal form it is useful to enclose any evidence or information (photocopies) that supports your appeal.  You must also include your mediation certificate to show you have spoken to the mediation adviser and either considered mediation or entered mediation (unless you are only appealing the name of the education setting in section I of the EHC Plan).  You may find it useful to familiarise yourself with the Tribunals guide on How to Appeal Against a SEN decision.

7. What happens after I send my appeal to the Tribunal?

Your appeal will be registered within 10 working days of receipt and you will be informed of the date of the final hearing.  All SEN appeals will now have a 12 week timetable (instead of the previous 20 week timetable).  Some appeals may be listed on a slightly different timetable depending on the availability of Judges and Panel Members.

When you appeal is registered the Tribunal will issues;

  • Case directions - these are set dates bu which you must take action.  Please keep a note of the important deadlines as you can be barred from the hearing for failing to comply
  • An attendance form - you will be given a date by which you must inform the Tribunal and the Local Authority about the witnesses (if any) along with any others you want to bring to the hearing.  If the witness refuses to attend the hearing you can ask the Tribunal to issue a witness summos which requires them to attend
  • A Case Management Questionnaire

The Local Authority will be sent a copy of the appeal when it has been registered, they must respond within 30 days of their appeal notice being sent, sending a copy of their response any any documents to yourself as well as the Tribunal.

The Local Authority has the option to;

  • Oppose your appeal
  • Apply to strike out your appeal and ask that it is brought to an end if they feel it is a case that the Tribunal cannot consider
  • Not oppose your appeal - for example this could be that they agree to amend the EHC Plan.  If you are satisfied with the outcome, you can withdraw the appeal or ask the Tribunal to order the Local Authority to change the EHC Plan in the way you have agreed, by making a consent order
8. What happens at the Hearing?

You will receive a full copy of the appeal bundle (copies of the documents yourself and the Local Authority want to use to support your case, along with the time and venue of the hearing.  Hearings are held in Tribunal Buildings/Family Court Rooms as close to your home as possible (the Tribunal aims for venues to be no more than 1.5 hours travel in each direction).

Appeals will be heaerd by a panel consisting of a legally qualified Tribunal Judge who will chair the hearing and up to two specialist Panel members who have knowledge and experience of children with SEND.  Hearings usually start at 10:00 a.m. (although some may start at 2:00 p.m.) and the length of the hearing will depend on the issues being heard and number of witnesses.  You do not have to attend the hearing but it is helpful to do so.

During the hearing;

  • The Tribunal Judge will provide an introduction, explain the procedures and list the issues to be considered
  • The panel will consider the appeal on an issues by issues basis
  • You and the Local Authority will be invited to give your views and present your evidence on each issue
  • You will have the opportunity to ask questions of the Local Authority, witnesses and also hae the chance to add anything additional you fee is importat and has not been previously mentioned.  The Local Authority will be given the same opportunity
  • You may be invited to make a brief closing comment to summarise your position
9. What happens after the Hearing?

The Tribunal will make its decision following the heearing, parents are notified in writing by post and generally this is received with approximately 10 working days.  The decision must summaries their reasons for the decision.

If the Tribunal issue an order, once received the Local Authority have to comply with the time limits, within which they must carry out the Tribunal order. 

These are;

  • where the Tribunal requires the Local Authority to undertake an assessment or re-assessment (notification starts the process) - within 2 weeks of the order being made
  • where the Local Authority has been ordered to make and maintain an EHC Plan they must issue the finalised EHC Plan within 14 weeks of the order being made
  • where the Local Authority has been ordered to reconsider a decision, they shall do so within 2 weeks of the order being made
  • where the Local Authority has been ordered to amend the EHC Plan the Local Authority must issue the amended EHC Plan within 5 weeks of the order being made
  • where the Local Authority has been order to substitute the name of a school/college/other institution, the Local Authority must issues the amended EHC Plan within 2 weeks of the order being made
  • where the Tribunal has ordered that an EHC Plan continue to be maintained by the Local Authority, the Local Authority shall continue to maintain the EHC Plan with immediate effect
  • where the Tribunal dismisses an appeal against a decision to cease an EHC Plan the Local Authority must cease to maintain the EHC Plan immediately

Transport

1. Who is eligible?

The Council has a duty to make travel arrangements as considered necessary in order to faciliate the school attendance of an 'eligible' child.

The child must be registered at a 'qualifying school'.

Eigible children are those of compulsory school age (5-16) who meet the following criteria:

  1. Statutory Walking Distance- Children who are attending a school that is beyond two miles for a pupil under the age of 8 OR three miles for children aged 8 and over.
  2. Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) or mobility problem - Children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems or because of associated health and safety issues related to SEND, including temporary medical conditions.  If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you should contact the SEN Team to find out more about school travel.

You can either telephone 020 7364 5000 or email

For more information about school Transport look at Tower Hamlets Website

2. Transport for Early Years?

For young children below compulsory school age (term after their 5th Birthday) there is no direct duty to arrange transport - Sections 509A and 508C of the Education Act 1996 give Local Authorities discretionary power to make transport arrangements.

3. School age children 5-16

Under section 508B of the Education Act 1996 Local Authorities are under a duty to provide free school transport to eligible children.

You may be entitled to free transport getting your child, of compusory school age, (term after their 5th birthday and ends the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they turn 16) to a Qualifying School (a maintained, an academy (a free school is a type of academy), a pupil referral unit/LEAP (London East Alternative Provision) or an Independant School name in an Education, Health and Care Plan)  if:

  • your child has special educational needs, a disabiity or mobility problems or
  • the route your child will take to school is unafe or
  • you live beyond the statutory walking distance (see above for more details on walking distance) or
  • you are on a low income

More details can be found in the Education Act 1996 - Schedule 35B

You ONLY need to satisfy ONE of the eligibility categories if your child is eligible due to SEN, Disability or Mobility problems.

4. School age Children with Special Educational Needs, Disability or Mobility problems

Your child may be entitled to home to school transport if they have Special Educational Needs, a Disability or Mobility problems, which means they cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school (provided the Local Authority has made no arrangements for attendance at a nearer suitable school).

The Local Authority will consider whether a child could reasonably be expected to walk if accompanied, and whether their parent can reasonably be expected to accompany them.

It may also be unreasonable to expect a child to walk to school because they lack a sense of danger.

5. Will the Local Authority automatically pay for the transport to a school named in the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

Not necessarily, this will depend on whether your child can reasonably be expected to walk to the school and whether there is a nearer suitable school.

Where you disagree with the Local Authority about the suitability of a school named in a final EHC plan you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal

The Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance (paragraphs 34 and 35) defines suitable travel arrangements and include:

  • enabling an eligible child to reach school safely, reasonably stress free and ready for a day of study
  • suggested maximum reasonable journey times of 45 minutes for prmary school children, and 75 minutes for secondary school children
  • School transport providers and escorts must be subject to enhanced DBS Checks and have received disability and equality training
Young People aged 16 - 19

Section 509AA is where you can find the duty to support Young People of Sixth Form age (which is from the last Friday in June in the academic year in which they turn 16 but under 19).  If a young person began the course they are studying at school or college before their 19th birthday, they remain of sixth for age untili they complete that course.

The 'Transport to education and training for young people aged 16 and over' statutory government guidance says:

The overall intention of the sixth form age transport duty is to ensure that:

  • Learners of sixth form age are able to access the education and training of their choice; and
  • If support for access is requested, this will be assessed and provided where necessary

This means that legislation gives Local Authorities the descretion to determine what transport and financial support are necessary.

They DO NOT have to provide free transport to education for young people over compulsory school age.  However, they must publish a transport policy statement setting out what reasonable travel choices are available to enable 16 to 19 year old's to participate in education or training.

As this is the care for school-age children, the post-16 guidance also says that transport should enable a young person to reach their place of education or training without such stress, strain or dificulty that would prevent them from benefiting from the education provided.

Young people with SEND may need help with transport because they may not be able to travel to their education setting due to their disability or mobility problems, or where they have to travel further afield to attend a suitable setting.

The Local Authority must consider individual circumstances before reaching a decision.  As they do not have to provide free transport, the offer might include part-funded travel (such as a bus pass/travel card), and/or might include travel training.

Young People aged 19-25

Section 508F contains the duty to support Adult Learners (who are aged 19+).  If they started a course of further education before their 19th Birthday, they remain of sixth form age until they complete that course (section 509AA will apply).

The 'Transport to education and training for young people aged 16 and over' statutory government guidance says:

'the Local Authority is required to make such arrangements for the provision of transport as they consider necessary in respect of:

  • adults (i.e. those who are aged 19 or over) and
  • relevant young adults with an EHC Plan (up until the age of 25)

Where the Local Authority makes such arrangements, any transport provided must be free of charge.  Where the Local Authority decides not to provide transport arrangements in a particular case, they still have discretion to pay all or part of the reasonable travelling expenses for the student.'

Moving to Tower Hamlets

1. I am moving to Tower Hamlets what do I need to do? 

If you have moved to Tower Hamlets (or are about to move), you need to:

 

  1. Inform your previous local council that you have moved (or the date that you will be moving), so that they can transfer your child’s SEND File to the Tower Hamlets SEND Team:

Special Educational Needs

5th Floor Mulberry Place

5 Clove Crescent

London

E14 2BG

 

You can email or call 020 7364 4880

 

  1. Provide the Tower Hamlets SEND Team with Proof of Residence in Tower Hamlets – this might include:
  • Council Tax Letter
  • Rental Agreement
  • Utility Bill

 

  1. If your child does NOT have an EHC Plan, you may wish to make an “In-Year Application” for a school place through Tower Hamlets Pupil Services

Pupil Services

Mulberry Place

5 Clove Crescent

London

E14 2BG

 

You can email or call 020 7364 5000

 

2. Where can I find additional information?

The Tower Hamlets Local Offer website has lots of useful and informative information for all families within the Borough.

 

School Admissions / Applications

1. My child has SEN, but does not yet have an EHCP - How do I apply for a school place them?

For children without an EHCP, they must use the standard online method to apply for a school place through the EAdmissions Website

If you are making an in-year application for a school place, you can contact Tower Hamlets Pupil Services on 020 7364 5006 Option 1

2. Which schools are good at supporting children with SEND?

We cannot recommend schools to you and everyone's experience is unique and opinions will therefore be different.  We would advise you to keep an open mind about the opinions of others and visit any school to form your own views before making a decision.

By doing some research, asking questions and getting a feel for the school you will find you get an instinct for where you would like your child to go.

Tower Hamlets Special Schools

Tower Hamlets Nursery Schools

Tower Hamlets Primary Schools

Tower Hamlets Secondary Schools

3. What happens once my 'in year' application goes in?

The Admissions Website explains the process of applying and what happens next

You can apply direct to foundation, voluntary aided, free schools and academies and the school will check to see if there is a place available in the year group you have applied for.  If there is you will normally be offered a place and the school will write to you with the outcome of your application.

If your application is unsuccessful then the letter must inform you of your legal right to appeal.  Some schools hold waiting lists throughout the year for all year groups and this information is available from the schools directly.  The school will let Tower Hamlets Admissions Team know the outcome of your application and you can contact them directly on 020 7364 3837 or 020 3764 0730 or you can email them to discuss alternative schools at this point.

4. I am going through the EHC assessment process, where do I start finding a school? 

You should apply for a mainstream school place as part of the usual admissions process.  This will ensure you secure a school place for your child regardless of the outcome of the EHC process.

You can find all Tower Hamlets Schools through one of the links below - every child has the right to a mainstream education so this would usually be the starting point, however, we have also provided a link to all Special Schools; 

Tower Hamlets Special Schools

Tower Hamlets Nursery Schools

Tower Hamlets Primary Schools

Tower Hamlets Secondary Schools

By researching and visiting schools, meeting staff and asking questions we usually find parents feel better placed to make a decision, we understand that this can feel like an overwhelming responsibility for parents, particularly where a child has additional needs and it can be helpful to talk this through with us.

If the Local Authority decide to issue an EHC Plan, you will be asked to name your preferred school at the draft stage and the Local Authority must consult with your chosen school

5. I have approached several local schools but they have all said they cannot meet my childs needs  

Schools (including academies and free schools) must have regard to the admissions code (see links below), the Equality Act 2010 and the 2015 SEND Code of Practice, Chapter 6 outlines school responsibilities and Chapter 1 explains the basic principles, which focus on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning.

If a school says that they are concerned about their ability to meet your child's needs, get as much information as possible as to why.  You may find that you can explore with the school other means of supporting your child.  If they cannot offer a strategy a previous school provided, what could they offer instead which might have a similar impact?

Children and Young People should be educated in mainstream* education in accordance with sections 33 & 34 of the 2014 Children and Families Act.

*A mainstream schools i defined in Section 83 of the Act as follows:

"Mainstream School" means -

a) a maintained school that is not a special school, or

b) an academy school that is not a special school

It is against the Law to discriminate on the grounds of disability (and other characteristics) - Section 6 (85) of the Equality Act 2010.

An admission authority must not discriminate on the grounds of disability; gender reassignment; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex or sexual orientation, against a person in the arrangements and decisions it makes as to who is offered admission as a pupil - School Admissions Code

6. The school I have approached said there is not enough funding available to provide the support they need

All mainstream schools receive money to provide SEN Support and can apply for additional funds for any child requiring a higher level of support, where this can be evidenced.

Schools must not discriminate and are responsible for meeting the needs of every child in their school, sometimes this will mean making 'reasonable adjustments' or purchasing resources/planning individual support.

If your child has an EHC Plan the Special Education Provision (outlined in Section F of the plan) must be provided.

Here you can find answers to common questions that parents/carers ask about their child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

We hope this saves you time and that you find what you're looking for. If not, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

SEND SUPPORT

1. What support should my child be getting in school?

You can find out what school offer by viewing their SEN information report, and SEN policies on their website.  Talk to the SENCO about the difficulties your child is having, and together you can discuss and plan support.

Find out what is available locally for your child, for example voluntary, health or specialist services, by searching on the Local Offer webpages or call the Family Information Service on 020 7364 6495.

2. My child has SEN, how can I get involved in any discussions about support?

You should be involved in all discussion about your child's SEN, the SEND Code of Practice is really clear on this. Make contact with the SENCO to arrange an appointment so you have an opportunity to share your views, those of your child, and find out what support the school have, or are planning to put in place.

3. I heard my child does not need to be on the SEN register as academic progress is being made.....

A child may have SEN, despite making expected academic progress.

The Code of Practice says that when identifying SEN in schools...

It can include progress in areas other than attainment – for instance where a pupil needs to make additional progress with wider development or social needs in order to make a successful transition to adult life.

it should not be assumed that attainment in line with chronological age means that there is no learning difficulty or disability. Some learning difficulties and disabilities occur across the range of cognitive ability and, left unaddressed may lead to frustration, which may manifest itself as disaffection, emotional or behavioural difficulties.  6.18 & 6.23 Code of Practice

Talk to school about what your child is finding difficult and ask what support might be put in place to help them. The schools own website could be a good starting point as may detail some of the programmes or interventions they offer.

4. School have said they cannot afford to provide what my child needs.  What do I do?

Schools must identify, assess need and then plan support based on this information in a continuous cycle (assess-plan-do-review). Where school have identified what a child needs, this should be put in place. Schools can apply for the higher needs funding.

Sometimes it can be useful to discuss with school about what they could put in place, perhaps they are unable to provide a 1:1 at lunch but may be able to suggest a supervised club, for example.

5. School can only provide support if I get a diagnosis, is that right?

This is incorrect.  SEN is about the needs of a child, not the diagnosis.  Schools have a duty to identify SEN, and to use best endeavours to make sure a child with SEN gets the support they need.

There is also some government guidance for schools: 'Supporting pupils with medical conditions', which highlights that schools should not wait for a formal diagnosis before providing support for a medical condition.

6. My Child is struggling, but school dont see any difficulties.  What can I do?

Some children will appear on the surface to be OK but underneath may be finding things difficult and feeling too anxious or self-conscious to ask for help.  It can be useful, ahead of any discussion with school, to try to find out from your child what they are finding difficult and what is going well.  Sharing this information with school should help plan what support might be needed.

In addition when you have your next discussion ahead of giving your examples as to what they are finding difficult you could frame it as 'Of course you won't have seen any of this as they mask this very well while in school...'.

Autistic children will often find ‘free time’ difficult, with the adjustment from finishing school for the day you may see some challenging behaviour.

It can be useful to try to build in some structure at home, like a home timetable on display for what happens now and next.

The National Autistic Society explain behaviours and have some examples of timetables.

7. My Child finds it difficult to ask for help in school and doesn't want to stand out as different

This is very common.  Children with SEN are often anxious about raising their hand in class and asking for help.  As they get older and start to become more aware of their differences they often don’t want to attract more attention to themselves.  You could acknowledge to your child that many young people find this tricky and that it is ok to explore with school ways of asking for help which your child will find easier.

For example, it could be agreed that your child shows he/she is struggling by placing an item on the table (this might be a coloured card system or a piece of school kit like a rubber) and the teacher or TA comes over discreetly, going to other children first to see if they are ok. 

In this way, your child doesn’t stand out.  Some young people prefer to speak to a key person at agreed times in the week to talk about what they are finding difficult and explore ways to make this better. 

We have a workshop called ‘Empowering Your Child’ which is aimed at helping parents to support their child in asking for help in school. 

8. My Child is fine at home but school staff call every day about issues in the classroom

It will be helpful to meet with school to discuss the issues, and consider any patterns of behaviour.  It is very common for children and young people to present differently at home and at school as the environments and activities can be very different. 

We recommend acknowledging the school view and experience - this does not make your experience any less valid.  It is important to look at the whole view to unpick what your child is finding most tricky and what might make things easier.

Share with school any strategies you use.  Often parents are using strategies without even realising and it can be less confusing for a child where the strategies at home and school are the same. 

Praising positive behaviour can be really effective, particularly when sanctions are not helping your child to manage things differently.  You can also explain you are finding the daily calls stressful and agree how school will communicate with you in the future.

Where school have tried all strategies, and are unsure how to support, they should seek specialist advice. 

9. I'm in disagreement with school about my child's progress.  How can we move forward?

This comes back to the four-stage cycle of SEN Support.  Once required outcomes have been agreed, progress should then be measured and support monitored as part of the cycle.

At the review stage the progress made should indicate whether your child has achieved the desired outcomes, and if not support should be reviewed and changed, with fresh targets set where necessary.

10. School say they need more time so they can gather evidence, but my child needs help now

If school have identified what your child needs help with, this should be put in place. The process of SEN Support is all about the gathering of evidence ie, support is put in place then continuously monitored for impact on progress.

Speak to school again to find out what progress is being made, the evidence of the impact of support in place so far and, where progress is not being made, what are the next steps.

If progress is not being made despite SEN Support an EHC needs assessment might be the next step. You have the right as a parent to request an Education, Health & Care needs assessment directly with the local authority.

11. A Health Professional recomended an Educational Psychologist but the school has refused

It is for school to review support and decide what next steps might be appropriate. They should involve a specialist for any child who continues to make little or no progress, despite SEN Support.

They might consider a referral to an Educational Psychologist when reviewing, or they equally may have a different idea about what the next step should be. It will be important to find out why school have refused, what progress is being made, what impact the support in place is having, and what the next steps will be.

12. Is it right that colleges can only offer support with an EHC Plan?

Colleges have a duty (explained in the SEND Code of Practice 2015) to 'use their best endeavours to secure the special educational provision that the young person needs' and 'they must fulfil this duty for students with SEN whether or not the students have EHC plans.'

Support should be discussed with the young person and their ambitions and aspirations must be at the heart of any planning.

EHCP'S (Educational Health and Care Plans)

1. What is an EHC Plan?

An EHC plan describes your child’s educational, health and care needs, and the help they will get to achieve their ambitions.

It is a legal document written by the local authority for children and young people whose needs cannot be met by the support that is usually available at their school or college.

2. I am not sure if my child needs an EHC Plan

Most children with special educational needs will have their needs met through extra support provided by the education setting.  This is known as SEN Support and can include a wide range of provision and interventions.  You can contact the SEN Team on 020 7364 4880.

However, if an educational setting has exhausted all the possible support options and a child/young person is still not progressing as expected it might be appropriate to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment (the first stage)

The local authority will expect to see evidence of what, if any, progress has been made and that school that have done everything they can to help your child make progress.

If your young person with SEN is not in education but wants to be, requesting an EHC needs assessment may be an appropriate first step.

3. I heard it is really hard to get an EHC Plan

The Code of Practice says ‘A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.’ (9.3).

Where the setting has exhausted all possible support options, or is unable to maintain the required level of support without the help from the local authority, they can use this information as evidence within their request for an EHC needs assessment.

Chapter 9.14 of the Code of Practice details the information a local authority must consider when deciding whether to assess.

The Code also says that a local authority, whilst applying their own criteria when deciding whether to assess, ‘must be prepared to depart from those criteria where there is a compelling reason to do so…’ (9.16).

4. Is it only a school/nursery/college that can request an EHC needs assessment?

Usually a request will be made by the setting (to the local authority).  However, as a parent, you have the right to request an EHC needs assessment directly, by calling 020 7364 4880.

The educational setting will be requested to submit information within 15 days, we would recommend you let the school/nursery/college know you have, or are planning to make a request.

Where your child is aged between 16 and 25, they also have a right to request an EHC needs assessment.

5. What information do we need to make a request?

Making a direct request is easy, you can do this by contacting the SEN Team on 020 7364 4880.

The Local Authority will take some basic information from you including your child’s name, date of birth, where they go to school; and family information including address, and contact details for you and anyone else that has parental responsibility.

You will be sent a Family Views form to complete within 15 days.

6. How long does the process take?

From start to finish the process is 20 weeks.  The initial stage where the local authority decides whether to carry out an assessment takes six weeks.

7. The Local Authority are Refusing to Assess, what can I do?

It is really helpful to find out why the local authority reached this decision. You can ask them for a meeting, including school to discuss their reasons.

It could be that they have identified some support that school can put in place without an EHC plan for example.

You have the right to mediation and appeal, your letter will explain this and we can offer further advice and support.

8. I am not very confident at saying what I want to say, can someone say it for me?

We can help you with preparing for a meeting, sometimes we may attend with you and would always speak with you firstly about what you want to say.

Our aim would be to help your build your confidence, so that you feel able to participate in meetings.

You could take a friend or family member along for support, but always let school (or the local authority) know who will be going so they can make sure the room can accommodate all of you.

9. How do I know when the Educational Psychologist will be assessing my child?

They will contact you before seeing your child within the first six weeks (the assessment phase) and let you know when your child will be assessed.

You can ask any questions about what their assessment will entail.

10. I won't be seeing my child's health practitioner within the EHC timescale?

Advice and information requested by the local authority must be provided within six weeks of the request (subject to only a few exceptions outlined in section 9.42 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015).

Usually the health professional will use information they already have about your child, however things may have changed for your child and you believe the information is out of date. You could contact your health service provider to explain, and ask if the appointment can be brought forward to enable up-to-date advice to be provided within their 6-week deadline.

You may find that the local authority finalise the EHC plan without this advice in order to meet the lawful EHC timescale, and agree to amend the plan later when the advice is received.

Read the information from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) about the requirements for providing Health advice within six weeks.

11. Why are the Local Authority contacting Social Care?

The local authority must seek advice from social care as part of the assessment process.

Where any related social care needs are identified, these would become part of an EHC plan for a child.

Any health or social care provision which educates or trains your child must be included within educational provision (section F of an EHC plan).

12. Will my Child get a plan at the end of the EHC needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment will not always lead to an EHC plan.

If the local authority decides an EHC plan is not necessary, they will write to you to explain why and include information about your rights to mediation and appeal.

Information gathered as part of the assessment will indicate ways in which the setting can meet your child’s needs without an EHC plan.

13. What are 'Outcomes'

An outcome is what you expect to be achieved within an agreed timescale.

The SEND Code of Practice says…

‘Outcomes will usually set out what needs to be achieved by the end of a phase or stage of education in order to enable the child or young person to progress successfully to the next phase or stage…’ (9.68)

‘An outcome can be defined as the benefit or difference made to an individual as a result of an intervention… it should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART). When an outcome is focused on education or training, it will describe what the expected benefit will be to the individual as a result of the educational or training intervention provided.’ (9.66)

‘When agreeing outcomes, it is important to consider both what is important to the child or young person – what they themselves want to be able to achieve – and what is important for them as judged by others with the child or young person’s best interests at heart. ‘(9.67)

14. What is a co-production meeting?

When you receive the draft plan, you will have 15 days to suggest any changes you would like to be considered and you can request to meet with them, this is sometimes referred to as a co-production meeting.

This gives you an opportunity to meet with the Family Services Co-ordinator (and any other professionals you would like to invite), to discuss provision and go over the draft plan, including requesting any changes you would like to make.

Ahead of the meeting it can be helpful to prepare notes about any questions you have or the changes you would like to request.

15. Can my child come along to the meeting?

Your child should be part of any planning or decision-making.

The local authority should involve your child as far as possible in this process.  They must take into account their views as well as yours.

Your child may need help to express their views, for example from a family member or practitioner already working with them.  Consider alternative ways they can share their views, pictures or a video for example.

Our service can help children and young people directly with any questions they might have, getting their views across and support preparing for and at meetings too.

16. When will my child's plan be reviewed?

The local authority will review the EHC plan every 12 months, or earlier if necessary.  This must be done in partnership with you and your child or the young person, and must take account of your views, wishes and feelings.

The local authority must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, make changes, or cease to maintain it within four weeks of the review meeting.  You have a right of appeal if the local authority proposes to cease the EHC plan.

For some young people an EHC plan will continue until they are 25.  However, the plan will stop if the young person:

  • goes to university
  • gets a job
  • tells their local authority they no longer want their EHC plan, or
  • the local authority decides the outcomes have been achieved and Special Educational Provision is no longer necessary
17. What happens if my child moves to another Local Authority?

If you plan to move to another local authority area you should contact the ‘old’ and the ’new’ local authorities so the support specified in the EHC plan will be in place.  The ‘new’ authority will amend the plan and name the new school or college.

The ‘old’ local authority must transfer the EHC plan on the day of the move, as long as it has had 15 working days notice.

18. My Young Person is going to University, will their EHC Plan continue?

No, EHC plans are only for young people in further education, and will cease when they go into higher education.

19. What if the provision in Section F of a plan is not being made?

The first step will be to raise your concerns with the educational setting. There may be reasons why support has been changed or delayed which you are reassured about.

Once an EHC plan is finalised the setting will set interim targets linked to the 'outcomes', this is key as enables progress to be reviewed throughout the year. If you are unsure what these targets are, you could arrange to meet with the SENCO.

If you have discussed with the setting and still have some concerns that provision in a plan is not being made, you should let the local authority know.

In law, it is the local authority’s duty to secure the special educational provision in an EHC plan, this means to ensure that provision is made.

IPSEA have some useful guidance including an example letter, if you have been unable to resolve by contacting school/the local authority.

Exclusions

1. What is a School Exclusion?

Schools (includes academies, free schools and pupil referral units) may exlclude a pupil for breaches of their behaviour policy.  An exclusion is for a given number of days known as 'fixed term' or might be permanent.

Statistics show that a disproportionate number of children with SEN are excluded.  Head teachers should consider what extra support might be needed to identify and address the needs of a child in order to reduce their risk of exclusion.

2. As a parent what can I do?

You could ask the school whether further assessment might be needed to identify your child's needs, and what other options there might be to support them.

You should be able to find a copy of the school's SEN and behaviour policies on their website.  There should also be a SEN informatino report available to view.  If you cannot find these on the school website, you can request copies directly from them.

If you have any questions or concerns about an exclusion decision for your child, speak to the Head Teacher as soon as you are told about the exclusion.  You can also contact the governing body if you have any concerns.

If you believe your child has been discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010 you can make a claim to the First-Tier Tribunal for Disability Discrimination.  If you take this route you must do so within 6 months of an incident (exclusion).

3. I don't agree with the fixed term exclusion given to my child, what can I do?

You can write to the Governing Body in the first instance to make your representations (you can find details of the governing body on the school's website), their duties to consider will vary depending on how many days in total of fixed-term exclusions within a term, and/or whether the exclusion will mean an exam or test will be missed.

Where less than 5 days in a term, the governing body must consider your representations but are not required to meet with you and cannot direct re-instatment.

If you make representations where the total number of exclusions is between 5 and 15 days in a term, the governor decision is unlikely to affect the actual exclusion (the period of exclusion will probably have taken place bu the time the governors consider).  If they decide to overturn the decision a note can be added to your child's school record.

If you believe that your child has been discriminated against in the exclusion process because of a disability, you may also make a claim to the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) within 6 months of the exclusion.

4. I don't agree with the permanent exclusion for my child, what can I do?

Speak to the Head Teacher as soon as you are told about the exclusion, (as this is not formally agreed until the Governing Body has considered).

When the governing body meets to consider the exclusion, this is your opportunity to ask any questinos about how of why the decision was made.

If you are in disagreement with the governing body decision to 'uphold' the permanent exclusion following the meeting, you can have a further opportunity to make your representations, by requesting an Independent Review Panel (IRP).  Your letter from the governing body should explain your right to request an IRP and how to do this.

If you believe that your child has been discriminated against in the exclusion process because of a disability, you may also make a claim to the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) within 6 months of the exclusion.

5. What else can be tried to help my child manage their behaviour?

This can be very difficult for everyone involved.  The most important thing is to continue to work with the school, sharing ideas and deciding next support steps.  Some things to consider discussing with school.......

  • Ask your child how they feel, what is working and what isn't, and what would need to change to see improvements with their behaviour.  Share this information with the school, this is the starting point
  • Look for patterns or triggers for behaviour, for example are the instances always in a particular lesson or time of the day
  • Consider a positive praise approach - finding a way to praise even the smallest of things can have a positive impact to behaviour
  • Think about the behaviour targets set, breaking these down to bite-size achievable targets can be a good way to manage.  For example, if you are able to praise your child for getting through a lesson without incident (even where other lessons may not have been as positivie!), itmight just lift their confidence enough to keep them feeling positive about the next day and start to break the cycle of challening behaviour.

School might consider:

  • An Early Help Assessment (EHA) - a way of working with families and assessing needs
  • Referral to a Health Service
  • Where support options in school have been exhausted, a request to the Local Authority to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment
  • Where an EHC Plan is already in place, request an early review
6. Can school decide to change my childs fixed term or permanent exclusion?

This should only happen in exceptional cases, where additional evidence has come to light.

The Department for Education exclusions guidance says:

'The law does not allow for extending a fixed-period exclusion or 'converting' a fixed-period exclusion into a permanent exclusion.  In exceptional cases, usually where further evidence has come to light, a further fixed-period exclusion may be issued to begin immediately after the first period ends; or a permanent exclusion may be issued to being immediately after the end of the fixed period'

7. Can school exclude my child who has an EHC Plan?

The Head Teacher has the right to exclude a child but should, as far as possible, avoid permanently excuding any pupil with an EHC plan or a 'looked after child'.  For any child at risk of exclusion the Head Teacher should consider what alternatives are available, and request that the Annual Review be brought forward.

The Local Authority must review and amend the EHC Plan for a child that is permanently excluded, to ensure they continue to receive education or training.

8. School are suggesting a reduced (or part-time) timetable can they do this?

The law says that, unless your child's health means that full-time education would not be in his or her best interests, they should receive full-time education.  However, a reduced timetable can be an effective short-term measure.

9. I get calls all the time from the school asking me to pick up my child

Asking a parent to pick up their child at lunchtimes, early, sending a child home to 'cool off' are known as 'unofficial' exclusions and are unlawful.  The threat of exclusion should not be used to influence parents to removed their child from the school.

The Department for Education exclusions guidance says that any exclusion of a child must follow the formal process (fixed-term with an agreed end date).

10. Will school set work for my child, for the period of their fixed-term exclusion?

For exclusions of more than five school days, the school (or Local Authority if excluded from a PRU or LEAP (London East Alternative Provision)) must arrange suitable full-time education from day six, unless your child is under compulsory school age or in Year 11 having already completed their GCSE's.

The Department for Education exclusions guidance highlights there are benefits or arranging education before day six of any exclusion and says

'Where it is not possible, or not appropriate, to arrange alternative provision during the first five school days of an exclusion, the school should take reasonable steps to set and mark work for the pupil.  Work that is provided should be accessible and achieveable by the pupil outside school'

Talk to school about the arrangements for how your child will access work and have this marked during the period of a fixed-term exclusion.

What Parenting Programmes Do Tower Hamlets Offer?

If you are interested in any Parenting Programmes please take a look at the information provided here or you can call the Parental Engagement Team on 020 7364 6398 or email