Finding your way around the support system for SEND can be confusing. The information below explains the two main types of support available:
- SEN Support Plan
- Education Health and Care Plan
It explains who you can talk to about SEN Support, how you can request an education, health and care assessment and who to contact for additional information advice and support.
Special Educational Needs Support
Special Educational Needs Support (SEN Support) is available in early year’s settings, mainstream schools and further education colleges.
A SEN Support Plan is the first level of additional support for pupils with SEN at a mainstream school. It involves:
- assessing the needs of the pupil
- planing how they can be met
- providing additional support
- reviewing progress.
Through this cycle the right additional support is provided to help the child achieve at school. This is known as the graduated approach.
This can help a pupil who is struggling compared to their peers. SEN Support may involve extra staff, using different learning materials or special equipment or adopting a different approach to teaching.
All schools have a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), a teacher who is responsible for Special Educational Needs. They work with other teachers and parents to make sure that pupils with special educational needs get the right support and help they need at school. The SENCO will work alongside a pupil’s teacher to find ways of supporting and improving the pupil’s learning. This may include working with other professionals, for example, the Speech and Language Team. The SENCO will also ensure that the pupil’s progress is regularly monitored and reviewed.
If a pupil does not make progress with additional assistance through SEN Support, the school and parents might consider requesting an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA).
SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Support Service - What we are and what we do
We are made up of two teams, currently with 5 SEND Officers and a Senior SEND Officer in each team, based at the Langdale Centre in North Shields. Team members have a range of professional experience mainly from education and social care. They carry out the Local Authority’s duties in relation to children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disability as defined in the Children and Family Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015. In this context young people are beyond statutory education age and under 25. The team work closely with colleagues across health, education and social care and most decisions are informed by recommendations from the SEND Panel which is a multi-agency panel of professionals who meet every week.
Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA)
If your child has more complex Special Educational Needs that can't be met by a mainstream school or nursery through SEN Support, you can ask for an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA). An EHCNA is a detailed investigation to find out exactly what your child's Special Educational Needs are.
The assessment can lead to an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which brings together your child’s education, health and social care needs into a single, legal document. This document sets out what extra support they will get to meet those needs.
Through the SEND Panel the Local Authority will decide whether the Local Authority (LA) should carry out an EHCNA for children and young people aged 0-25 who live in North Tyneside. To do this we consider requests for assessment from parents, young people and from settings (nurseries, schools, colleges etc). We also consider the need for assessment when a child is brought to our attention which includes when a health professional makes a notification for a pre-school age child who they think has or may have Special Educational Needs or a Disability. The SEND Code of Practice sets out what the LA can take into account when making this decision.
If the decision is to carry out an assessment (sometimes called a ‘statutory assessment’ because it is a legal process) the SEND Support Service will then carry out an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment.) This involves getting the child/young person’s views and aspirations for the future and those of their parent/carers and advice from all the professionals who are involved with the child/young person and their family so that all their needs are identified. This is co-ordinated by a SEND officer into an assessment which also identifies the outcomes needed for the child and then provision (kind of support) they will need to achieve the outcomes. The outcomes should clearly link to the child/young person’s aspirations and preparation for adulthood (especially from year 9 onwards particular attention should be paid to how the child or young person will be prepared for becoming an adult).
The SEND panel will then decide on the basis of the completed Education Health and Care Needs Assessment whether the child/young person requires support over and above what the school can ordinarily provide for students with SEN (sometimes referred to as the school’s ‘local offer.’)
The EHCP is a legally binding document, the Local Authority is responsible for securing appropriate provision (placement and support) for pupils in line with their EHCPs.
If no EHCP is issued, you will be informed within 16 weeks of your request.
The EHC assessment process is completed within 20 weeks as shown below.
A request is received
The assessment is carried out
If an EHCNA or an EHCP is refused by the SEND panel the panel may make recommendations for how the child or young person could be supported through the SEND Local Offer, for example by using resources differently or through an Early Help Assessment or referral to another agency. The SEND officer may also offer to hold a network meeting to support the setting to amend the SEN support plan, based on the EHCNA. The EHCNA is a thorough assessment of all a child/young person's needs and can be very helpful to inform a SEN support plan.
How to request an Assessment
If you or your child have concerns about the progress being made at school or college please speak to the SENCO and discuss what support is needed. If they feel it is necessary, they will make a request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment.
However you could also make a request:
SEND Support Service
The Langdale Centre
Telephone: (0191) 643 8684
It would really help us decide whether you or your child should be assessed if you can state why you believe you (if you are a young person aged 16-25) or your child has special educational needs and why they may require additional support through an EHCP. You can include any reports which will support this.
Following your request for assessment
If you or your child’s school or other setting have asked us (your local authority) for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment for your child the following will provide further information while your request is being considered.
The following can provide advice and support to parents, carers and young people through this process
This guide explains how the system that supports children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) works.
You will find this guide useful if you are a child or young person and you want to understand how the changes will affect you and your family.
What to do if you are unhappy about a decision
There is a range of ways that people can give us their views so if you are unhappy about a decision we have made the following describes your options. We would always ask you to contact us first as often issues can be sorted out through discussion without needing to any other mechanism.
Discussion with allocated SEND Officer
In the first instance, a young person, parent or carer should contact the allocated SEND officer or in the case of a refusal to carry out an assessment they could ask to speak to the duty SEND officer or the senior SEND officer. This may involve a telephone discussion or, if necessary, a face-to-face meeting.
SEND Support Service Complaints Process
If children, young people, parents or carers want to make a formal complaint they can do so by contacting the SEND Support Service by mail, email or telephone. The Senior Manager/Senior SEND Officer will investigate the complaint and respond within 10 working days. If further time is required the complainant will be informed of the delay and provided with a deadline for a response, within a maximum of a further 10 working days.
Corporate Complaints Procedure
In the first instance, complaints about the SEND Support Service should be dealt with following the processes above, however if the child, young person, parent or carer feels that their issue has not been resolved they should be referred to the Corporate Complaints Procedure. This is a formal process and information can be found on the North Tyneside Council website, where there is an online form that is completed by the complainant. Alternatively, a leaflet about how to complain about council services is available and should be sent to the complainant if requested.
Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN should be made as soon as possible. In most cases this will be achieved by early year’s providers, schools, colleges, the Local Authority and CCGs working together and agreeing what should be provided with parents and young people.
If a parent or young person feels they have been unable to resolve an issue through discussions with the relevant people, disagreement resolution services are available. Disagreement resolution services are for parents of all children and young people with SEND, not just those being assessed or who have an EHC Plan. The process can only take place if all parties agree. In North Tyneside, we use Chapel Mediation & Consultancy Service to provide disagreement resolution services. It helps resolve disagreements about:
- how early years providers, schools and further education institutions are carrying out their duties for children and young people with SEND
- how social care services are carrying out their duties for children and young people with SEND
- how health care services are carrying out their duties for children and young people with SEND
- the special educational provision made for a child or young person
- the social care provision made for a child or young person
- the health care provision made for a child or young person
- us deciding not to undertake an EHC needs assessment
- us deciding not to issue an EHC plan
- the special educational, health or social care support we or the CCG are providing in an EHC plan
If dispute resolution is unsuccessful, formal mediation is a way of resolving disputes between parents or young people and the Local Authority (and/or schools) without going to the SEND Tribunal. Mediation arrangements are specifically linked to decisions about EHC assessments and EHCPs and can take place following decisions by the Local Authority:
- not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or reassessment
- not drawing up an EHCP after an EHC needs assessment has been completed
- about the content of an EHCP
- not to amend an EHCP after an EHCP annual review
- not to agree to a full reassessment of needs
- not to maintain (ceasing) an EHCP
The mediation service in North Tyneside is provided by Chapel Mediation & Consultancy Service.
Appealing to the SEND Tribunal
If you are unhappy about a decision made in relation to an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment or an EHC plan, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes called the SEND Tribunal. There are no fees for parents or young people to pay. The SEND Tribunal has the power to order Local Authorities to carry out an EHC needs assessments, issue an EHC plan, and amend an existing EHC plan. Local Authorities must comply with orders made by the SEND Tribunal.
Single Route of Redress – SEND Tribunal Extended Powers
What is the outcome of the National Trial?
The National Trial commenced from April 2018 to August 2021 testing the extended powers for the SEND Tribunal. The department commissioned an independent evaluation of the National Trial which found broadly positive evidence in support of the Tribunal’s extended powers, which can be seen here.
Therefore, the Government has confirmed that they are continuing the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans..
Previously, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC plans. The continuation of the extended powers given to the SEND Tribunal, maintains your right to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.
It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
What does this mean for parents and young people?
If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You are also able to request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time, provided there is also an education element. This will mean the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.
This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, including from your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).
If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is non-binding. The local authority and/or health commissioner is generally expected to follow such recommendations, but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set-out in writing to you and to the Department for Education through the evaluators. If they are not followed, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. Further information on the roles of these bodies can be found on their websites.
When can a parent or young person request recommendations about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan?
You can request the Tribunal makes recommendations about the health and/or social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to:
- the description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC plan
- the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
- the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan
What does this mean for local areas?
The SEND Tribunal extended powers places responsibility on local authority SEND teams to:
- inform parents and young people of their new rights through decision letters and the local offer
- provide evidence to the Tribunal from the health and social care bodies in response to any issues raised within the time frame set by the Tribunal, seeking permission to bring additional witnesses to the hearing as necessary
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
- respond to any request for information and evidence within the time frame set by the Tribunal
- send a witness to attend the hearing as required
- respond to the parent/young person and the LA SEND team within 5 weeks of a recommendation being made, setting out the steps they have decided to take or giving reasons why they are not going to follow the recommendation.
How can a parent or young person request a health or social care recommendation?
If you wish to appeal against a local authority decision on any of the grounds above and want to request that the Tribunal considers your concerns about the health and /or social care aspects of the EHC plan, you should follow the process for bringing an appeal to the Tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal. Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website and further guidance can be found in the toolkit of support.
As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation?
Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the LA. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation about those issues, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal. An appeal to the Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.
Help and further information
Examples of good practice in EHC Plans
Please see the documents below.
Parents and carers of children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs), and young people over the age of 16, have greater choice and control over support arrangements. If a child or young person receives an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) you will be able to ask for a personal budget, part of which might be available through a direct payment. More details about direct payments are given below.
Making it Personal - A family guide to Personalisation, Personal Budgets and Education, Health and Care Plans.
Where to get Information Advice and Support
To get Impartial and Confidential Advice, contact the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)
Telephone: 07792 008 890 | (0191) 643 8313