Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report on Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans
November 9, 2017
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has investigated complaints concerning Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans. EHC Plans were introduced in 2014 to replace Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN), with local authorities given the mandate to conduct this process. Ensuring the changes imposed by the 2014 SEND Code of Practice are implemented in their school is the collective responsibility of the governing board, so this report will be of interest.
The LGO has seen a rapid increase in complaints and enquiries concerning EHC plans with numbers practically doubling between 2015/16 and 2016/17.These numbers are expected to rise again. The LGO is concerned that councils will miss the April 2018 deadline for transferring pupils from Statements of SEN to EHC plans, with only a third of those who still had statements in January 2016 being transferred by January 2017. The EHC plans which are being completed are often not produced on time, just 58.6% of new EHC plans were completed within the twenty-week timescale in 2016. This has contributed to the LGO upholding 79% of complaints, well above their usual average of 53%.
Of particular note for schools was the report’s criticism of councils for delegating the gathering of evidence on which to base the EHC assessment to schools or even parents, when it is the council’s responsibility. The report also stressed the importance of regular and open communication with both schools and parents. Governors should therefore be asking their headteacher about how well the processes that are currently in place are working and whether they require any additional support.