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Temporary change in the law for Education Health and Care Plans

Thursday 30th April 2020


The government has announced temporary changes to the law regarding Education Health and Care (EHC) plans during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Minister Ford, Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, and Minister Whately, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Care, have written a joint ministerial letter to children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers.

There are two main changes:

  1. Education and health support set out for a child with special educational needs (SEN) in an EHC plan, may be different for a period of time. Local authorities and health providers will have to use "reasonable endeavours" to secure this support. This means that they do not have to do exactly what is detailed in the EHC plan if this is not possible during the Coronavirus outbreak. However they should try other ways of providing the support. For example, your child may be offered help virtually over the phone or online rather than face to face. This legal change will take place tomorrow (May 1, 2020) and will be reviewed monthly.
  2. Legal timescales for various EHC processes, for example: considering EHC assessment requests, issuing EHC plans and holding annual reviews, will be relaxed. Local authorities, health care professionals and others will instead be required to act as soon as they reasonably can. These changes currently last until 25th September and will be kept under review.

Detailed guidance will be published alongside these legal changes and we will share a link to the guidance once it becomes available. 

Local authorities' duties to disabled children under the Children Act 1989 remain in place. These include the duties to assess and arrange provision to support disabled children's needs while they are under 18, and the needs of their carers.

Jill Hardman, Senior Parent Adviser on Contact's education helpline, said: "We understand that parents might be worried by a change in the law regarding the support your child receives. But these are temporary measures and we will be closely monitoring the reviews." 

Families needing advice about EHC plans or any aspect of their child's education, can contact our Freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555.

More information can be found below: