Parents and young people can feel pressured to rely on another service in place of an EHC plan, particularly when the young person is over the age of 19 or is not planning to remain in formal education. However, the test in law is about whether the special educational provision is necessary: in other words, needed. Special educational provision also includes ‘training’ which has a wide definition in law. Therefore, it is possible for an EHC plan to continue in settings other than formal education settings. If the young person continues to require special educational provision to be made for them, this is exactly what must happen.

If the LA has sent a written notification of their plans, check the letter carefully as it could be a ‘cease to maintain’ notice meaning there will be a right to appeal their decision to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (“the SEND Tribunal”). If this is the case, it is important to seek advice about appealing the decision.

If the LA has only told you this verbally or written to say they are planning to cease to maintain the EHC plan in the future, you should write to them immediately to say you disagree with their plans and request their decision in writing, making clear that an appeal to the SEND Tribunal will be made and that you understand the LA is under a legal duty to maintain the EHC plan until the appeal has been decided. This means the LA must continue to provide the special educational provision detailed in Section F of the EHC plan and the named placement in Section I must continue to admit the young person.

Once the LA has issued a ‘cease to maintain’ notice, your son (or you on his behalf) will need to make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. The deadline for appealing is two months from the date of the decision or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever date falls the latest.

In the appeal, the burden is on the LA; it will have to show that the EHC plan is no longer necessary. As described on the main page for this section, it is not lawful for them to cease to maintain the EHC plan simply because he is over 19 and/or they believe he is not making sufficient progress.