Update on education, health and care needs assessments - Amanda Henderson

Published
18.10.2021

I want to update you on the EHCP Service and how it is managing the very high numbers of requests for EHC Needs Assessments from parents and education settings. 

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Over the last 18 months we have become used to hearing the word ‘unprecedented’ in relation to COVID-19 but I’m afraid it very much applies to this increase in requests locally and nationally also. This increase could be partly the result of COVID-19 but also as a result of a rise in the identification of SEN more generally.

To give you an example, from June 2021, we have seen an increase month on month on the same period last year as follows:

2019-2020

Number rec’d

2021-2020

Number rec’d

Increase

% increase

June

56

June

85

29

52%

July

57

July

88

31

54%

August

20

August

25

5

25%

September

36

September

56

20

56%

Our EHCP Service is working very hard to meet this increase in demand but we know that we are not meeting the statutory timescales and this is extremely frustrating for all involved. The team of Casework Coordinators and Educational Psychologists are dedicated to providing a quality service that helps children’s SEND needs to be understood and met within their education setting. 

The process of assessment depends on a team of people providing information and data to inform it.  Information provided by the family, school and other professionals, including Psychological advice and information from an Educational Psychologist and practitioners within Health and Social Care, where applicable.  The numbers of Educational Psychologists admitted onto training courses and qualifying each year is capped nationally.  Local Authorities across England seek to employ Educational Psychologists every year but demand is far outstripping supply. 

So what are we doing to manage this situation?  We have a plan to increase capacity while ensuing we continue to meet quality standards for EHC Needs Assessments and Plans as per the SEND Regulations (2014), Children and Families Act (2014) and the SEND Code of Practice (2015), by:

  • Appointing additional agency Educational Psychologists to increase the capacity of our existing team of Educational Psychologists;
  • Appointing additional agency EHCP Casework Coordinators to increase the capacity of our existing Casework Teams;
  • Arranging for fortnightly updates to individual families about the progress of their child’s EHC Needs Assessment (including when there is no progress to report)

This is not going to be a quick fix but we will do everything in our power to get on top of this situation as soon as possible.  We know how stressful and challenging the EHCP process can be for parents and we want to help, not make it worse.

There has also been an increase in the number of complaints received by the Service, which is understandable. While we always respond individually to every complaint we receive, we will for now respond in a more standardised way.  This is so that we can prioritise the team’s time on the assessments and plans that need to be done.

Amanda Henderson,
Head of Services for Children with Additional Needs

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