...with the professional advice. We are very concerned about the advice from the educational psychologist. When we spoke to him, he told us that he thought that our son was going to need more specialist teaching support than theLA would probably be prepared to give him in a mainstream school. We’ve combed through his report and he says nothing at all about the amount of help he thinks our son needs. Does this mean he’s changed his mind, or has he been ‘leaned on’?

Now that you have the draft education, health and care (“EHC”) plan you have the right to ask for a meeting and/or make written representations about the contents of the EHC plan. The local authority (“LA”) must give you at least 15 days to make any representations and/or request a meeting. For more information, see the section on what to do when you receive the draft EHC plan

We would recommend you arrange a meeting with the LA and raise the following points:

  • The law says that written advice must include a professional’s opinion on ‘the provision which may be required.’ The educational psychologist’s (“EP’s”) advice says nothing about the amount of help your son needs, but you know he has an opinion on this because he discussed it with you.
  • The EP now needs to say, and put on record, the amount of support – teaching and non-teaching – that he believes your son re (If the EP does this, ask that it be written down and attached to the advice as an addendum.)

This means the EP’s full opinion will form part of his written advice and that, therefore, the LA will have to take account of it when they make their decision about the amount of provision to be specified in Section F of the EHC plan. It should also help you, as parents, to argue for an appropriate amount of help for your son in the mainstream school of your preference. And, if the LA ignores the EP’s views and your own views, you will be in a stronger position to challenge the LA through an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (“the SEND Tribunal”). 

It may be that the meeting gets you no further forward. The LA officer may say they have a policy preventing professionals from recommending particular provision, or the EP may say he is not allowed to include his opinion on types of school in his professional advice. This is not in line with the law or the statutory guidance; see the section on what to do when you receive the draft EHC plan for more information. 

If this happens, you should inform them that you will be raising these issues as part of your appeal to the SEND Tribunal should it be necessary when the EHC plan is finalised. The deadline for appealing is two months from the date of the final plan or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever date falls the latest.

You should also leave the LA officer with written points stating exactly how much help and support you want the EHC plan to specify for your son in Section F.

The law gives parents the right to express a preference for the type of school and the individual named school which they ‘prefer’ for their child (as set out in the section on choosing a school). When a child has special educational needs, parents inevitably decide their preference on the basis of which school can give their child the right kind of help to meet their needs. When LA officers and professionals refuse to tell parents how much help their child needs (following an EHC needs assessment which is intended to find this out), they prevent parents acting in their child’s best interests. LAs are under a duty to specify the special educational provision a child or young person requires and this must not be ignored.