Refusal to issue an EHC Plan what can we do?
Our local authority has declined to issue our son an EHCP following an EHCNA. We commissioned independent reports from an Education Psychologists(EP), a Dyslexia assessment and a Physiotherapist. We asked our Caseworker to ensure they wait for the reports(which he agreed). However, when we spoke to him he did not know our case was discussed at the Panel. So the decision was made on the evidence they had which was the LA's EP report. What can we do?
When an LA carries out an EHC needs assessment they must obtain all of the information set out in Regulation 6(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 (the “SEN Regs”). This includes advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from (reg 6(1)(h)). Under point SEN Reg 6(1)(h), a parent or young person can ask the LA to seek advice from anyone within education, health or social care, as long as it is a reasonable request. This can include a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or someone from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
A request would be considered reasonable where, for example, a child or young person has been identified as needing an assessment already and they are on a waiting list, or where the school, college or other professionals have said this advice may be needed.
IPSEA advises that it is best to request that a particular professional is approached in writing (either in a letter or an email), so that you have a record of your request. If the LA do not agree to the request, and the EHC needs assessment process has not yet been completed, parents can use our model letter to complain.
In your case, the LA has already concluded the EHC needs assessment so, unfortunately, using the above model letter is not likely to be appropriate or helpful.
When the LA decides not to issue an EHC plan following an EHC needs assessment they must inform you that you have a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the “SEND Tribunal”). Before bringing an appeal to the SEND Tribunal, you must consider mediation. This does not mean that mediation is compulsory, but it must be considered. The exception is if you are appealing only about the school or college placement, or where no school or college is named and you are appealing about that fact.
The deadline for appealing is two months from the decision sent to you by the LA or one month from the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
When an appeal to the SEND Tribunal has been registered it is sometimes possible to obtain a direction from the Tribunal that the LA obtains certain information. You could request the SEND Tribunal directs that the LA obtains information about your child’s fine motor skills. You will need to use the Tribunal’s Request for Changes form. You can download this from the SEND Tribunal site. Before submitting a Request for Change form you must first seek the LA’s views.