In September 2014 the Children and Families Act changed the way local authorities, schools and colleges assess your support needs and help you plan ahead. Now the local authority must bring together support by education, health and social care services for all disabled young people from birth and up to the age of 25.
Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) (England)
Once you finish your GCSEs you can choose from a number of options in terms of what you want to do next.
Since the summer of 2013 young people have to stay in education or training until the end of the academic year when you turn 17. From 2015 this will be extended to your 18th birthday. This could be:
- full-time education or training, including school, sixth form, college and home education
- vocational training, such as an Apprenticeship, Supported internship or Traineeship
- full-time work of 20 hours a week or more and for 8 weeks or more consecutively with part-time education, training or volunteering.
A new Code of Practice describes what local authorities, schools and colleges, health and social care services must do to support children and young people with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities from birth up to age 25.
Local authorities are now required to publish a Local Offer that outlines the full range of support services available in the area for children and young people with Special Educational Needs or disabilities (SEND). This should include education and training options, apprenticeships, Traineeships, Supported Internships, school and college courses as well as specialist colleges out of the area approved by government (Section 41 providers). It must also show who can provide information, advice and guidance on the options, including your local parent partnership, voluntary sector organisations, Connexions service, careers guidance providers and the National Careers Service. The Local Offer also provides information on health and social care options in your area and who can help you understand whether you are entitled to a Personal budget and whether to have a direct payment.
Local authorities are required to ask disabled young people what should be included in the Local Offer and to publish their findings so that the Local Offer develops and improves each year.
The Local Offer should help you understand the choices available once you have left school and to make an informed decision about what would suit you best for your future education and training, employment, independent living, friends and community involvement.
From September 2014 some young people will have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) instead of a Statement at school or a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA), sometimes called a Section 139A assessment in the last year before leaving school.
What is an EHCP?
Children and young people who need support to achieve their potential in education can ask for an assessment to decide exactly what kind of support would help them, who can provide it, and whether health or social care is also required. If the local authority agrees to the assessment they will involve all the organisations already providing services to help you. They will ask you what you hope to achieve, including when you leave school and will involve your family or carer. They will then write an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) that describes all the different types of support you need, who is responsible for providing it and when the plan will be reviewed with you, to check it is working well.
One of the most important reviews takes place in Year 9, when you will need to make important decisions about future choices.
Your preparing for adulthood review meeting: for those with a Statement or EHCP
There are lots of options but if you have a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or EHCP, planning for your future will begin with your Year 9 preparing for adulthood review meeting. From this meeting your EHCP will be written or updated to make clear your aspirations, what you want to be able to do when you leave post-16 education or training and the support you need to achieve your ambitions. It should look at all aspects of your life including education, employment, housing, health, transport and leisure activities.
Before your Year 9 preparing for adulthood review meeting you should:
- be offered face-to-face careers guidance at school to discuss which subjects you are enjoying and achieving good grades in, which subjects you plan to take for GCSE and your aspirations for life after school
- talk to your subject teachers about your strengths and which subjects you are best at and enjoy most
- talk to your parents about what you may want to do after school, if you are considering sixth form, a local college, residential college, further training or going straight into work or an apprenticeship
- think about any difficulties you are having in school so that you can talk about these at the meeting.
The preparing for adulthood transition review is usually held at your school and will involve you and people who will support you in moving into adulthood. These people could be:
- someone from social services, to make sure you get a health and social care assessment if you have health and social care needs
- your local doctor or community nurse
- your teacher(s)
- a Qualified Teacher of Visually Impaired Children (QTVI)
- a careers adviser
- an educational psychologist, to make sure you get the support you need to carry on learning
- your parents or carers
- anyone else who you would like to support you at the meeting.
If you feel shy or nervous about raising things at the meeting it is a good idea to talk through any issues with your parents or a member of staff beforehand so that they can help you put your ideas across at the meeting.
Your revised EHCP
After the meeting, you and your parents or carers will be sent a copy of the revised EHCP. The plan should set out:
- what subjects you want to study and what other activities you'd like to be involved in for your remaining time at school
- what you want to do when you leave school
- what information you need to help you make decisions about your future
- what opportunities there are in your area to do what you want to do
- what support you might need to achieve your goals.
The education department of your local authority is responsible for making sure that you receive all the support and services that are listed as necessary for you in your revised EHCP.
The local Social care and health services must co-operate with the education department and ensure their support is in place too.
At age 18 your social care normally transfers from Children’s services to Adult services. But you can ask for a Children’s Needs Assessment before you are 18 so that adult social services can advise you what will be available after your 18th birthday and give you an idea of the budget you could have. They can help you decide whether you would like to manage your own finances for your education and care support by having a direct payment.
You should have at least one other review meeting each school year to update your EHCP If you think anything has been missed out, talk to a member of staff about it.
Remember, it's your plan for your future so it's important that you feel it says what you think it should.
In England, if you want to continue your education, you can stay on at a secondary school with an attached sixth form, transfer to a local sixth form college, or go to a more vocational further education college, although, depending on geographical location, not all of these options may be available.
From September 2014 if you have a Statement, your review in the last year at school will result in an EHCP. This will identify what you want to study or train for, where you would like to study, how you will get there, what support you will need, depending on the course, assessment methods, work placements and depending on your personal support needs.
If you carry on to a sixth form which is linked to your school, things could pretty much remain the same. You’ll continue to get support from your school and the support staff you are familiar with. But the review may include the support provided by social or health care too.
If you decide to move on to a further education (FE) college or a residential college or if you are going into vocational training then the review in your final school year will result in an EHCP which will then be reviewed by college staff once you are at college.
This preparing for adulthood review is to support you in your transition into college or vocational training and your local authority will still be responsible to make sure you are supported in the way your EHCP describes. This review should bring together up to date assessments, is about identifying your needs and the right support and provision for you. It should take into consideration your Statement or EHCP and Transition Plan. With your permission, your school or local authority will then pass on information in your EHCP to the college about your particular needs so that they can work with you to make sure your support is in place before the beginning of your course.
Your EHCP in your final year at school, and ideally from Year 9 should state your preferred course and college.
Many young people with Special Educational Needs or a disability do not have a Statement or EHCP. By 2015 School Action and School Action Plus will be phased out. In future school pupils and college students will have graduated support, which could involve professionals from outside the school or college as well as school staff for example a VI specialist, assistive technology or a note-taker. Whether or not you have an EHCP the local authority and school are still responsible to make sure you have the right support for you to achieve as well as you can at school and afterwards.
Even if you do not have an EHCP or statement, young people with a disability may still have an annual review and should still expect help and guidance on your future choices and support arrangements.