Frequently Asked Questions

We want to make choosing the right school a little easier and regularly receive queries around the same topics. In order to assist as many families as possible we include our most frequently asked questions here. 

The Children and Families Act 2014 is a piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that focuses on improving services and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), as well as their families. One significant aspect of the Children and Families Act is the introduction of Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs), which replaced the previous system of Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in England and Wales.

An EHCP is a legal document that outlines the support a child or young person with SEND needs in order to achieve their educational goals. It is a comprehensive plan that covers not only educational needs but also health and social care needs. EHCPs are designed to be person-centered and involve input from the child or young person, their parents or carers, educational professionals, health professionals, and social care professionals.

The EHCP process involves assessment, planning, and review stages:

  • Assessment: This involves gathering information about the child or young person’s needs and consulting with relevant professionals and stakeholders.
  • Planning: Based on the assessment, an EHCP is drafted, outlining the child or young person’s needs, desired outcomes, and the support required to achieve those outcomes. This plan is developed collaboratively with input from all relevant parties.
  • Review: EHCPs are reviewed annually to ensure that they remain relevant and appropriate to the child or young person’s needs. The review process provides an opportunity to assess progress, make any necessary adjustments to the plan, and set new goals for the future.

The introduction of EHCPs under the Children and Families Act aims to provide a more holistic and integrated approach to supporting children and young people with SEND, ensuring that their educational, health, and social care needs are effectively met.

An annual review of an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) is a statutory process conducted review the progress and effectiveness of the support outlined in the EHCP for a child or young person with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The purpose of the annual review is to ensure that the EHCP remains relevant, appropriate, and effective in meeting the child or young person’s needs.

During the annual review process, various stakeholders, including parents or carers, educational professionals, health professionals, social care professionals, and the child or young person themselves (where appropriate), come together to review the EHCP. The key components of an annual review typically include:

  • Reviewing progress: The review assesses the progress made by the child or young person towards the outcomes and objectives outlined in the EHCP. This involves considering academic progress, social development, and any other relevant areas.
  • Evaluating support provision: The effectiveness of the support and services provided to the child or young person is evaluated. This includes reviewing the support from educational, health, and social care professionals, as well as any additional support or accommodations.
  • Identifying changes: Any changes in the child or young person’s circumstances or needs are identified and considered. This may include changes in health conditions, progress in learning, or changes in personal circumstances.
  • Setting new goals: Based on the review of progress and assessment of needs, new goals and outcomes may be set for the upcoming year. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Updating the EHCP: Following the review process, the EHCP may be updated to reflect any changes in the child or young person’s needs, goals, or support provision. This may involve amending the plan or adding new provisions.
  • Involving stakeholders: Throughout the annual review process, it is essential to involve all relevant stakeholders, including parents or carers, educational professionals, health professionals, social care professionals, and the child or young person themselves, ensuring that their views and perspectives are considered.

The annual review of an EHCP plays a crucial role in ensuring that children and young people with SEND receive the appropriate support and services to help them achieve their full potential. It provides an opportunity to monitor progress, address any concerns, and make necessary adjustments to support plans.

Most schools are controlled by the Government in some way, i.e. maintained schools which are controlled by LAs or Academies which are controlled by the Secretary of State. These comprise the majority of schools and other settings in England.

However there are also many schools which are not so controlled and which are broadly referred to as independent schools. It is worth understanding the different types, as these schools often have provision available for children and young people with SEN.

Spaghetti Bridge schools are inspected by Ofsted and all of our schools are rated good or better and we are supported by Local Authorities with our safeguarding responsibilities.

Families still have a right to state preference for placement based on section 9 of the Education Act.

Spaghetti bridge also have in place rhythms of continued quality assurance to ensure that best practice is maintained and reviewed.

 

Parents or young people have a right to request the settings (maintained, specialist, section 41)  set out in section 38(3) CAFA 2014.

However, this does not mean that you cannot ask for and argue for a place at an independent setting which is not on that list.

Where parents are making representations for an independent setting, the LA must have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure (section 9 Education Act 1996).

 If a young person is requesting an independent school or college, the LA should consider this as part of their duty to consider the young person’s views, wishes and feelings (section 19 CAFA 2014).

The difference is this: when a parent or young person requests a section 38(3) school or college, the LA must comply with the request unless the limited exceptions outlined above apply. If the LA refuses to name the parent or young person’s choice, the onus is on the LA to prove why it is not possible.

However, when a parent or young person asks for an independent setting as part of their ‘representations’ on the draft EHC plan, the onus is on you to prove that none of the schools the LA is offering can meet the child or young person’s needs, or that the cost of the placement will not constitute unreasonable public expenditure.

Public expenditure includes all the costs to the public purse of the placement, not just those incurred by the LA education budget. This can include social care costs, health costs and any other costs incurred by any public body.

If the parent or young person cannot show this, the LA is under no obligation to look at independent provision. It does not matter that the independent setting proposed is an excellent school and/or better suited to the child or young person’s needs than the school the LA has in mind. LAs are not bound to offer a child or young person with SEN ‘the best’ provision to meet their needs – only what is necessary to meet their needs.

In practice, the most important point to prove is not that the independent setting is better than the LA’s proposed school or college, but that the school or college offered by the LA cannot meet the child or young person’s needs.

Where a parent or young person is requesting an independent setting, they will generally need evidence from a professional as to why the independent setting is the only school or college which can meet the child or young person’s needs.

Additionally, there must be an offer of a place from the independent setting. Unlike the section 38(3) schools listed above, an LA cannot order an independent school to accept a child or young person.

The courts have considered situations in which an independent setting should be named in an EHC plan, and given examples of when a setting would be considered an unreasonable public expenditure. You’d find out about these in case law.

Where a child or young person is approaching a ‘phase transfer’ and are transferring between key phases of education. For example, nursery to reception; first school to middle school; primary school to secondary school or secondary school to post 16 education.

This may be an opportunity for your Local Authority to look at a change of schools for your child or young person.

It also may be a time that children and young people that attend a Spaghetti Bridge school may be asked for their next step and a local authority may make a change at this stage.

The deadline for EHCPs to have been reviewed, amended (where necessary), and issued for most phase transfers is 15 February. For transfers for young people from secondary school to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship, the deadline to review and make any amendments to the EHCP is 31 March