SEN support at school of college

Most children and young-people’s learning needs can be met by their school or college in what is known as the SEN Support Stage, or School Focussed Plan.

At this stage, regular discussions and meetings between you and the school or college can ensure things remain on-track and your child receives the support they need. 

What if more support is needed?

Some children and young people might benefit from the support provided through an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).

Any individual or service working with a child or young-person, the young-person themselves (if they're aged between 16 and 25) or their parent and carers can apply for an EHCP, and you can apply at any time.

When to apply for an EHCP

If you feel the school are unable to provide the support your child needs, for example if your child is receiving sanctions, exclusions or are behind in their school development – this is a good time to apply for an EHCP. 

Learn more about the EHCP process below.

How do I apply for an EHCP / request a needs assessment?

To apply for an EHCP, you'll need to ask Barnsley Council (the local authority), to conduct a 'special educational needs assessment'.

There are a number of ways you can request a needs assessment:

You can also ask your school, college, or any professional (including Social Workers and Family Support Workers) to help you apply.

We encourage all parties, families and professionals to consider if they're the best people to apply for an EHCP before contacting us. If you feel a school or professional should be helping you to apply, consider submitting a complaint to the school or service involved. We can help you to write this complaint if necessary.

If you'd like our support to apply for an EHCP, please contact us.

What happens when I apply for an EHCP?

Barnsley Council (the local authority) will collect information from you, other professionals and the educational setting. They'll use this information to decide whether to proceed with a needs assessment, or refuse an assessment.

Before a draft plan is issued, you may be asked to give permission for a specialist to conduct an assessment of needs. This usually involves an observation of how they are able to learn in a classroom environment.

More information on requesting a needs assessment and applying for an EHCP can be found on the EHC needs assessment part of the IPSEA website or from Section 9 of the SEND Code of Practice.

What to do when you receive a draft EHCP?

If the decision from the needs assessment is to issue an EHCP, the specialist assessment will be used – alongside information from the family, school and elsewhere. The draft report will then be sent to you, the setting, and to the EHC Team. You will then have at least 15 calendar days to ask for any changes to the draft plan.

Its important is the information in the draft plan is accurate, detailed and specific

  • Section B should detail what Special Educational Needs a child or young-person has.
  • Section F should detail what Special Educational Provision a child or young-person requires to meet the needs listed in Section B.

If you feel you need some help at this stage, or would like help to understand the draft EHC plan, please contact us. 

You don't have to contact the service as soon as you receive the draft plan – remember, you have at least 15 calendar days to respond.

You can find more information about the needs assessment and draft EHC plan stage on the 'what happens in an EHC needs assessment' and 'what to do when you receive your draft EHC plan' sections of the IPSEA website or Section 9 of the SEND Code of Practice.

How often is the ECHP reviewed?

The EHCP must be reviewed every year.

The local authority is responsible for the annual review process and the school or college is usually asked to arrange a meeting, inviting the family, child or young-person and any professionals involved. Your views, wishes and feelings are recorded along with those of your child or young-person (as it is their plan).

What happens if the plan isn't working?

Throughout the year, things can change. You have the right to request an 'emergency/early review' of the EHCP if things aren't going to plan and your child is receiving exclusions or behavioural sanctions – such as detentions.

Usually the EHCP is changed following a review and a new draft EHCP is then issued. Again, you have at least 15 calendar days to respond and ask for changes to be made.

If you would like any advice on the EHC review process, or if you would like a Case Advisor to attend an annual review, please contact us.

More information can be found on the IPSEA changing an EHC plan page or in Section 9 of the SEND Code of Practice.

How to challenge or appeal a decision (mediation and tribunal)

You can challenge the EHCP decisions made by the EHC team at Barnsley Council via SEND Mediation or appealing to the SEND Tribunal.

These decisions can include:

  • When the local authority refuses to assess following a request for needs assessment / application for an EHCP
  • When the local authority refuses to issue an EHCP following a needs assessment
  • When the local authority refuses to make changes to an EHCP following your requests when the plan is reviewed. This is known as 'appealing the contents of an EHCP'
  • When the local authority decides to cease an EHCP - for example, this might happen as a young-person leaves school to go onto further education at college.
  • When a request is made for a particular school, mainstream or specialist, and the local authority 'names a school or college in Section I' that you disagree with.

In each instance, you will be sent a decision letter by the local authority, which explains your rights to challenge the decision.

More information can be found on the IPSEA appealing to the SEND tribunal webpage or in Section 9 of the SEND Code of Practice.

We can support you in challenging decisions, appealing via mediation or tribunal, submitting complaints, and any EHC process. Please contact us for more information.

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