My daughter is 19 years old and severely sight impaired (registered blind). Throughout her schooling years she was supported with a Statement of Special Educational Needs in a mainstream environment. She left school in July 2014 upon which her Statement ceased and was moved over to a Section 139a and attended a specialised college for the Blind for 2 years.
During her 2nd year she realised that she wanted to change her career path (she was studying a level 3 in performing arts) but after completing work experience in a school environment she decided she wanted to do a Support in Schools qualification (with a view to becoming a TA) as well as continuing with Independent Living Skills and Mobility to build up her confidence (whilst she academically achieved in mainstream, she was very isolated and socially excluded).
Funding was refused from the LA as she didn't have an EHCP and the 139a was no longer in existence as she had 'successfully' completed what she'd set out to do (performing arts).We applied for an EHCP assessment which was carried out, but an EHCP was refused stating that provision can now be met within a mainstream setting. We are taking this to the tribunal.
What I would like to know is:-
- Should she have been automatically transferred over to an EHCP despite leaving school in July 2014 or at least invited to apply (it appears that if she'd have left school a year later then this would have been the case, although the LA are saying that an EHCP wouldn't have guaranteed despite being statemented)
- Whether it was up to the LA to gather information (asking for a proper social needs assessment) rather than request information from social services (my daughter is not known to social services, as her provision for independent living skills and mobility orientation were being addressed 1-2-1 via the specialist setting). So, therefore 'no advice' was received, despite her having a clear need (even the educational psychologist report has indicated she has a need!). Therefore I feel she wasn't assessed properly for an EHCP.
I'm finding it hard to understand how a child with a clear need, which was recognised by the Local Authority in the form of Statement of SEN could go on to be educated in a very specialist setting, being funded by the LA and to then be deemed to have a reduced educational and holistic need. Our court hearing is in April, but I feel like I'm flogging a dead horse because all our local LA are concerned about is that her academic needs can now be met within mainstream with reasonable adjustments. Her social needs mean nothing.
- Should my daughter have been automatically transferred over to an EHCP when she left school in July 2014?
The law automatically applied to all young people from September 2014. Therefore you are right that the LA was not in breach of its legal obligations by failing to carry out an EHC needs assessment at the time your daughter left school. At this stage, the most practical thing for you to do was to apply for an EHC needs assessment, as you have already done
- Should a social needs assessment have been carried out as part of the EHC needs assessment?
Information should be gathered from a range of different sources as part of the EHC needs assessment – see paragraph 9.49 of the Code of Practice. The only exception to this is where such advice has already been provided and the person providing the advice, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that it is sufficient for the assessment process (paragraph 9.47).
If you do not consider that adequate information has been obtained, you should write to the LA pointing this out and requesting that they obtain the necessary information in advance of the appeal hearing, in order for the Tribunal to have a full set of evidence before them.
At present, it is unclear precisely how much information should be gathered from social services. However, IPSEA’s view is that a ‘not known to this service’ response is not sufficient to meet the requirement of providing “advice and information”, and social services should be providing something more detailed.
- General points on refusal to issue an EHC plan
A plan must be issued where in light of the EHC needs assessment, it is necessary for special educational provision to be made in accordance with an EHC plan.
It is important to note that anything which educates or trains the young person counts as special educational provision, even if it is something you might associate more with social care. Independent living skills and mobility training would fall under this heading, as it would be training your daughter to be more independent. It seems unlikely that a mainstream setting would be able to provide all of the special educational provision your daughter needs from the resources already available to them.