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How much evidence for an EHC needs assessment?(9 Posts)
I am about to apply for an EHC needs assessment for DC2. His sibling already has a Statement, which pre-school applied for so I haven't had to think about the application process before. I have heard different things from the legal bar being quite low on whether the authority should assess or not to people having to submit lots of reports as 'proof' their child has SEN. DC2 has been identified by the school as having SEN and has been on the SEN register for 5 years.
However, the older he has got, the more his difficulties are impacting on his education. He has dyspraxia and social communication difficulties. However, he is also quite bright and is not greatly behind his peers academically. Infact, when given appropriate support he is able to achieve at a high level, though this is not always possible due to lack of support staff. He has no friends.
I am wondering whether a standard letter requesting assessment would be sufficient or whether I need loads of evidence? I wondered what other people have done? In reality, it's an academic exercise because the LA will refuse to assess anyway so I'm anticipating I will have to appeal. But do I get the chance to present more evidence if I do go to appeal? Thanks
When you request they will ask for supporting evidence and write to the school. They they decide whether to assess (within 6 weeks) and if they do, loads more evidence required before they decide whether to issue EHCP. If they decline to assess then yes, you will need to provide a lot more evidence to change their mind!
We just wrote a standard letter (the one on IPSEA's website) and included SALT reports with this and it went through with no problem at all. The NHS and private SALTs clearly stated the provision DS required (S and L unit, a specific amount of therapy above normal NHS provision), which really helped and made the process much easier for us and the decision makers. The LA will ask the school for their information, which they hopefully will already have gathered in a clear and coherent way. You don't need to do this. As it happens, my son's school was not asked for anything, which was a relief, as they hadn't really got anything and had very little understanding of the complexity of his needs.
The test for assessment is whether your child may have SEN, and may need them to be provided for by an EHC Plan. If the school will support you, that would be very helpful. You do need evidence to counter the perception that, because your child isn't too far behind and is presumably making progress academically, there isn't a real problem. You need to emphasise that he only makes progress when he has support, but that the support isn't reliable, which is why it needs to be protected by an EHCP. If you've got evidence that the gap between him and his peers is widening, that would be helpful. Emphasise the fact that SEN are not restricted to academic issues and that social communication and dyspraxia are serious. Good luck!
Thank you all for the advice. I have a plethora of OT reports (private and NHS) detailing his difficulties with writing. He can't write but uses a laptop and sometimes people scribe for him. The problem will be when he's in secondary school and he won't be able to use a laptop for the mathematical workings/ measuring angles etc. He can't read his own writing and neither can anyone else. It is like a 4 yr olds. I am scared that he will be put in the bottom class because, to see his written work, you wouldn't think he has any capabilities in maths and literacy (he does maths in his head, but because he can't show his workings both because he can't explain how he arrived at the answer (due to processing difficulties) and because he can't physically write his working out, he often loses out on marks. He is also extremely disorganised and forgetful.
The school are supportive but he is leaving in July and the secondary he is going to is notorious for not supporting children with complex needs. I am going to use the Ipsea letter as a template, but I'm getting het up as to whether I need to justify each point I make by referencing the SENCOP. I will also emphasise his stress and anxiety. To be honest, the SALT and his teachers are concerned he will be prone to depression due to the inability to make friends, but how would EHC provision help this aspect?
I souped up the IPSEA letter. The letter was about 6 pages and the bundle ended up nearly 50 pages with all the reports and notes.
I'd been told by everyone that we wouldn't get anywhere but I made the best case I could and the LA agreed to assess. Now waiting for the draft plan and looking at getting extra funds for school to support.
It's worth putting together something comprehensive IMO if your child is not failing academically and has more subtle/obscure SEN.
I added in a list of the various professionals relevant to DS - mostly NHS. I added a list of referrals made but awaiting first appointment. I added another list of people we might be seeking advice from.
I did a list of the "4 areas of need" and I put down a brief list of DS's difficulties under each of the headings.
I then took our main concerns (4 from memory) each in turn and presented evidence of "un-met" needs. Also the need to avoid future problems as ASD kids are high risk for mental health problems, so I highlighted the early warning signs that he was showing which I thought showed he needed support.
I included letters from professionals where I had asked them if they would write to support an EHC assessment and/or plan for DS. I used quotes from school staff and specialists highlighting where he would not meet academic potential. I used my observations, teachers' notes and SALT comments to highlight where his behaviour was showing anxiety - non compliance/destroying clothes/fidgeting etc etc I included his diagnosis report and a feeding disorder service letter. The school SALT had done observations and I had noted her comments about his poor pragmatics and that it would cost him socially in the future. I painted a pretty bleak picture, which wasn't an easy process.
We had a sensory OT report done privately thinking about doing sensory integration therapy. We decided to go DIY in the end but the report was useful as it showed he was delayed in fine & gross motor skills and social/emotional sphere. We couldn't show academic delay so I felt I had to really get lots of other evidence.
I put in a couple of study references on poor outcomes for non compliant ASD kids at secondary transfer and that an ASD friendly school would be essential - ie choice of school based on need rather than distance.
At the end I highlighted the 2 part test for EHC assessment which IPSEA list out on their website - with the formal reference - a child "may" have SEN and "may" benefit from a Plan. I said the ASD diagnosis showed unequivocally that he had SEN. I had a letter from the NHS psych supporting possible benefit of a Plan. So I finished up by saying that we clearly met the 2 part legal test and I expected a reply from them in 6 weeks (gave the date). I wrote to the head of children and families at the LA and cc'd the SEN team.
Good luck - the IPSEA foundation law course really helped me understand what to write and how to use all the jargon
PS I basically organised all the professional reports (apart from the EP) in advance and set out all the evidence clearly - so it made it easy for the LA to say yes. I think lots of people don't make a clear case and/or apply at busy times of year (July and Sept) which doesn't help their case.
The provision for your son at school could include things like Bridges SSU online social skills course (used by NAS schools) and Circle of Friends. Get the professionals to write down their advice and need for an EHCP to send with your application! Don't let them simply wring their hands - get them organised to provide evidence! Good luck
That is great advice, thanks @tartanterror. I am the sort of person who does justify each point with evidence so I can see my request for an assessment letter being a long one. I have written advice from the school to back me up, but when I asked the LA professionals involved with him to write something in support, they were deliberately vague because the LA has a blanket policy not to provide EHCPs for anyone in mainstream schools (I was at a meeting recently where one of the speakers from the LA effectively stated this). However, I do have plenty of OT evidence showing how profoundly he is affected.
I am glad your groundwork paid off and your DS's EHC plan is now being prepared. Thanks again
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