Go back a step

Nine myths busted about special educational needs in England

Wednesday 13th December 2017

The SEN (special educational needs) Information Group - of which we are a member - has address some of the most common myths around the Education, Health and Care plans process.

Below are nine myths along with the true situation.

Myth 1: All young people who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan in school will have a plan until they are 25.

The fact: An EHC plan can continue as long as the young person stays in some kind of education or training (this doesn't cover higher education).

It is still necessary for the local authority to arrange the extra support they need in order to achieve the educational outcomes set out in their EHC plan.

Myth 2: The requirement for social care needs to be identified and met is not applicable if the child or young person is not currently known to social services.

The fact - The EHC needs assessment must include advice on the child or young person's social care needs (although this may not need to be via an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act, it could be via Early Support or other non-statutory assessment processes).

Myth 3: A young person over 19 can only keep their EHC plan if they are working towards an educational qualification.

The fact - Recent case law, Buckinghamshire vs SJ made it clear that not attaining qualifications or only making limited progress does not mean that SEN provision is not needed or of benefit.

Myth 4: If the parents' preferred school is named in an EHC plan, the local authority does not have to provide transport to the school.

The fact - If the child is eligible for school transport then the local authority must provide it (Education Act 1996). When there is disagreement over the cost of placement, local authorities and parents can make a deal whereby the local authority names the parents' choice of school if the parent agrees to provide transport.

Myth 5: Under the new law, local authorities no longer have to specify provision in section F, we just enter the amount of funds allocated.

The fact: If anything, the new law is clearer that provision in section F must be detailed and specific and should normally be quantified.

Myth 6: A child will only be eligible for an EHC needs assessment if they have an EP report/been through two cycles of plan/do/review at SEN support/are two years behind/have spent £6000.

The fact - The legal test for statutory assessment under the Children and Families Act is whether the child or young person has or may have SEN and it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in an EHC plan.

All local authorities will have criteria for making decisions on assessment but these must not impose a higher threshold than the legal test. The local authority can reasonably expect the education provider to be able to evidence that they have taken 'relevant and purposeful action' (although a lack of this will not necessarily be enough to prove that an EHC plan is not necessary).

The local authority cannot insist on an EP or any other report as part of any eligibility criteria.

Myth 7: All provision supplied by the NHS should be in section G as it is health provision.

The fact - Provision supplied by health providers which educates or trains the child or young person should be in section F. This is particularly applicable to speech and language therapy since communication is clearly essential to education, but it can apply to other types of health provision.

Myth 8: You can't ask for a school placement outside your LA area.

The fact: Yes, you certainly can, and the local authority must comply with your preference unless the suggested placement is incompatible with the efficient use of public funds or the efficient education of other pupils.

Myth 9: Maintained mainstream schools can refuse to admit your child if they choose.

The fact - No, they can't, unless admission of your child would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children and there are no reasonable steps that can be taken to overcome that incompatibility.