EHCP stands for Education Health and Care Plan. Having given it some thought, this is what I want the EHCP to really stand for.
E is also for Empathy. Those who work with our families should have empathy with the fact that we did not choose to have a child with SEN, we did not choose to be sleep-deprived or choose to have to ask (or beg) for the additional support our children need.
E is also for encouragement. Sometimes, it all gets a bit too much, this is when we need encouragement from those working with our children. Encouragement to get back up and continue. Our children also need Encouragement.
E is also for Evolving. The processes, the Plan and the policies need to evolve with the learning we will gain as we go forward. My child's needs will also change and evolve, the Plans processes and policies also need to address this.
E is for Evidence-based. Let's not make assumptions because of a particular label our child may have, let's get evidence please before we make decisions.
E is for Expectations. We have expectations of our children, we want others to have them too. Sitting our child next to you while you cut out magazine pictures for a project but not involving the child because you don' think they can participate is immoral. Have expectations. One thing I have learned through my time in the Jungle is how my children can amaze me with what they can do, with the right support. Have expectations and share in our amazement.
E is most importantly for Equality. We are not asking for much, just equal opportunities, voices and rights for our children.
E should not stand for Ego. Egos have no place in this world. Egos need to be left at the door. This is never about you or your position, your role or any aspect of you. This should always be about the child or young person. So, park the ego please.
E should not stand for Exclusion. Excluding our children - from activities, school trips or from education - does not benefit our child or families in the least. It may help education settings and universal providers but it hugely limits our children.
E should not stand for Exhaustion. Don't make this journey any more tiring than it has to be. Don't tie us up in knots trying to find solutions that we are too tired to manage even the small every day duties we have.
H is also for Help. Sometimes, actually quite frequently, we don't know what we don't know. This is when we need your help. Sometimes, our child's needs change suddenly or the dynamics of our family change. This is when we need your help. Sometimes, we have to watch our children deal with mental health issues but they don't meet the criteria for CAMHS or the wait list is huge. This is when we need your help.
H is for Hearing. Hear us when we talk about our child. We may not know everything about education, health or care but we do know everything about our child. We know what they are trying to say, we know what their behaviour can indicate, so hear us when we talk.
H is for harmonious. Let's not have a battle. Let's work together. In every battle there is always a loser, let it not be our child.
H shouldn’t stand for hold up. Do you know how frustrating it is to sit in a meeting time and time again where decisions cannot be made because the decision maker isn't there? Do you know how frustrating it can be when the decision maker is then away so another hold up occurs.
C is also for Co-production. Don't ask us what we think once you have made up your mind but need to ask us. Ask us to be involved at the beginning of the discussion. Work with us rather than for us.
C is for co-operation. Co-operation is essential, especially for joint-commission to work effectively.
C is for consistency. In the Jungle, inconsistency is one of the most prevalent diseases. Having one practitioner telling you one thing and then having their colleague, who sits next to them, tell you something else is the bane of our lives. Be consistent.
C is also for Communication. Communicate, not just with us, not just in meetings but up and down the chain. Having sat in many meetings with senior management and hearing plans and expectations, it is beyond frustrating when I then sit in a meeting with the practitioners working with my children who have no knowledge of any of it. Communication is key. It's not rocket science but without it, everything fails.
C is also for creativity. Be creative with outcomes, be creative with ideas on how to support our children. By creative, I mean don't just think outside the box, throw the box away.
C should not stand for Control. No one should "control" the process. Someone may have to have overall responsibility but responsibility and control are very different. Take responsibility but not control.
C should not stand for cumbersome. The idea behind the Children and Families Act is that the process to get support for our children should not be so long-winded. Let's not introduce more cumbersome processes.
C should not stand for Convenient. This process should not be done with an idea of what would be most convenient for anyone other than the child or young person.
C should not stand for Confusing. Let's get rid of the jargon and the use of acronyms. Let's use real words and language, please.
P also stand for Patience. These changes are going to take some getting used to for all of us. We need to have some patience. We need to remember that not everyone knows about the changes ahead and probably won't realise until it has an impact on their child. Don't berate them, remember you only know because you were told; perhaps no one has told them.
P is also for Partners. Let's be partners in this new system. Let's work together. The definition of Partner is a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, with shared risks or profits. We will have less risks of failure and more chance of profiting from children reaching their potential if we are true partners in this process.
P is most importantly for Personalisation. Let's make this about the individual child or young person. One cap does not fit all. In one school, my son was in a class of boys, the same age and with the same diagnosis. Guess what? They were all different. They all learned differently, their communication was different and he wasn't thriving. Now, in a class of boys, all with similar abilities and learning methods, he has made progression we could have previously only hoped for. Person Centred thinking is essential. Not everyone needs to know how to write a person-centred review or plan but everyone needs to think in a person-centred way.
P should not stand for Politics. So often, local politics and policies have a "slight variation" to the actual legislation. Politics and Personalities are something we have written about before on Special Needs Jungle. They don't help our children and young people, so again, let's leave them at the door with the egos.
P should not stand for Pigeon-hole. How often have we heard "well your child has diagnosis x so therefore he belongs in that box with that provision and those opportunities." Our children are children first and foremost. This means they are individuals and therefore should be treated as such. Often I hear parents berating a particular field of practitioners, due to their experience of one or two. Practitioners have told me how hurtful/patronising/unfair this is. I have heard practitioners berating a particular group parents because they once dared to challenge the decisions of "experts". Parents then tell me how hurtful/patronising/unfair this is. Let's do away with pigeon holes. If we all fitted into a box, life may be easier but boy, wouldn't it be dull?
So let's make this EHCP stand for more than Education, Health and Care Plan. Let's make it stand for the culture change we need for the Children and Families Act to meet its original goal of making life easier for families.