I seem to regularly apply for EHCPs for children who need them within our schools; children who are way below age related expectations, children whose behaviour is extremely challenging, children who do not speak either in school or at home and children who have a variety of other complex and long term problems that make learning more difficult. Applying for EHCPs is not exclusive to primary schools, secondary schools sometimes apply and nurseries are allowed to – but frequently don’t.
Last year we were due to have a child with a significant difficulty joining us in Reception, she had a 1-1 at nursery, she had had countless appointments with paediatricians, she had been observed by the EP and SALT were involved. Mum contacted us in June before she started – did we know about Susan? She has got a few problems….. No we didn’t know, we went to nursery to observe her, heard her history, I asked the inevitable question, “Has she got an EHCP?” Lots of umming and aahing and well we were going to buts… later we worked out they could just have said, “No”. The LA had kindly given them some funds for a 1-1 to support but they hadn’t liked to apply for an EHCP as they thought we would want to do it. A short discussion ensued and they started the process.
Recently I have referred children to our local paediatricians to see if there is a medical reason for a child’s difficulties, after a few visits several have come back with, “……… would benefit from having an EHCP.” Health can’t instigate the EHCP process, although EHCPs are Education Health Care plans so Education, Health and Social Care can all work together to get these children with their complex needs the support that they need the primary need has to be educational. Health professionals who make these statements are very well meaning (and in our opinion often correct) it isn’t that easy. If I can’t persuade my EP to support my EHCP application then I may as well not bother! Parents see the paediatrician and have a chat, they see the letter, they see the magic letters, they come and see me and I can assure them that I will do my best but I can’t guarantee anything.
The new EHCP process is far more child and family centred – which is good but some parents, who know that their young children have significant problems, do not know that if their child’s educational establishment haven’t/ won’t apply for an EHCP for whatever reason then they can phone and request that the process is initiated. Parents phoning to initiate the process does not guarantee that a plan will be granted any more than a school applying does but it is an option.
I have just heard this week that we are having a child joining us in Reception in September who is moving in to our locality from out of area. We spoke to their nursery – oh, they’re lovely, really supportive parents…..problems…. no… well apart from the cerebal palsy. Do they have extra help? Yes. Do they have an EHCP? No, we knew they were moving house. Thanks!
Oh well I suppose it keeps me in a job!