New resource from the Council for Disabled children - IPSEA's comment 21/12/2016 10:29

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) have recently released a resource ‘Health and Care Plans Examples of Good Practice’. The purpose of the document is to support the development of skills in writing good quality Education Health and Care (EHC) plans. There is a detailed explanation of what must go in to each section of a EHC Plan and at the end of the resource there are two exemplar EHC Plans for ‘Jay’ and ‘Jessica’.

One of the most common issues we see in our tribunal case work is badly drafted EHC Plans so any new resource which can assist those drafting EHC Plans is welcome. However, it must be remembered that EHC Plans are not only individual to each child or young person’s needs, but they are evidence based documents so the information contained in EHC Plans comes mainly from written evidence, often in the form of professional reports.

First, we considered ‘Jay’s’ EHC Plan. The format of the EHC Plan contains separately lettered sections which is a positive as IPSEA sees many examples of EHC Plans where the sections are either missing or combined with other sections.

Jay’s acute anxiety is described in Section B (special educational needs) and there is some provision in Section F (special educational provision) for Jay to see the school Counsellor. However, the provision Jay has been identified as needing to focus on finding strategies for coping with situations that make Jay anxious and developing concrete problem-solving skills is placed in Section G as ‘health care provision’ despite the fact the provision is going to ‘train’ Jay in the context of section 21(5) Children and Families Act 2014. This in IPSEA’s view is clearly incorrect and we were disappointed to see this in an exemplar EHC Plan which is likely to influence those drafting EHC Plans.

Despite the common misconception that health services must remain health provision for the purpose of a EHC Plan, recent case law has supported the view that some types of health care provision from mental health services can indeed be special educational provision. In a case known as  DC & DC v Hertfordshire County Council (SEN) [2016] UKUT 0379 (AAC) the judge gave a helpful analysis as to what could be viewed as special educational provision as opposed to a ‘treatment’:

“A few examples may be contrasted.  (i) A SSEN provides mindfulness training for a pupil with an anxiety disorder.  The objective is to enable the pupil to remain calm, keep focussed in class and relate to other children at playtime.  Mindfulness is based on principles and practice to secure what is learned.  (ii) The same pupil is also provided with cognitive behavioural therapy to teach him how to deal with anxiety that pops up suddenly.  (iii) The pupil also undergoes hypnosis regularly to help him stop self-harming.  In the first two examples, the child is receiving systematic training and learning coping strategies to help him learn in the classroom and learn to get along with fellow pupils, as a member of the school community.  Both appear to be educational.  In the third examples the child is being practiced upon in order to change his behaviour.  His behaviour is affected subliminally.  It may be thought unlikely that this would be educational provision any more than taking an anti-biotic for a sore throat”.

We then considered ‘Jessica’s’ EHC Plan. Section B of the EHC Plan describe Jessica having to change position at least every two hours. There is some provision in Section F to match this need in that a member of staff will be available at all times during the day to move and transfer her. However, the  physiotherapy sessions Jessica requires and the physiotherapy training to school staff is detailed in Section G of the EHC Plan. Again, in IPSEA’s view this is incorrect; the physiotherapy and staff training should be should be in Section F and we were disappointed to see this in an exemplar EHC Plan which is likely to influence those drafting EHC Plans.

Overall, IPSEA welcome the CDC's briefing on EHC Plans and are pleased to see a format which contains separately lettered sections. However, it is concerning that both EHC Plans contain what is in our view, special educational provision in the health care provision section.

If you would like more information on the legal requirements of EHC Plans and their individual sections check out IPSEA's resources here.

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