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Education, health and care plans: A qualitative investigation into service user experiences of the planning process.An Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan sets out the education, health and care support that is to be provided to a child or young person aged 0-25 years who has Special Educational Needs or a Disability (SEND). It is drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment of the child or young person, in consultation with relevant partner agencies, parents and the child or young person themselves. EHC plans, and the needs assessment process through which they are created, were introduced as part of the Children and Families Act 2014. The Act, and an accompanying SEND Code of Practice, sets out how local authorities must deliver EHC plans. In 2016, a national survey commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) found variations in how EHC plan recipients experienced the EHC planning process across different local authorities.1 Based on these results, DfE commissioned two further research projects: a multivariate analysis of factors affecting satisfaction with the EHC planning process, and this qualitative investigation of user experiences of the EHC planning process. The qualitative investigation consisted of two distinct exercises: • Twenty-five face-to-face in-depth interviews with parents involved in the 2016 survey, with the aim of better understanding factors that lead to satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the EHC plan process. Thirteen interviews were conducted in local authorities with above average satisfaction, and 12 were conducted in local authority areas with below average satisfaction. • An evaluation of EHC plan quality focussing on plans provided by 18 of the 25 parents interviewed. The evaluation was conducted by a panel of 10 SEND experts with wide experience as SEND policy advisors, strategic leaders in LAs, specialist advisory teachers, officers in SEN statutory services, Special Needs Co-ordinators, teachers in special and mainstream schools and lecturers. There was little evidence of a link between families’ satisfaction with the process of getting the EHC plan and experts’ evaluations of the quality of the plan: this report therefore discusses these two strands of research separately.
Experiences of education, health and care plans: A survey of parents and young people.An Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan) sets out the education, health and care support that is to be provided to a child or young person aged 0-25 years who has Special Educational Needs (SEN) or a disability (SEND). It is drawn up by the local authority after an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment of the child or young person has determined that an EHC plan is necessary, and after consultation with relevant partner agencies and with children, young people and parents. EHC plans, and the needs assessment process through which these are made, were introduced as part of the Children and Families Act 2014. The Act, and an accompanying SEND Code of Practice1, sets out how local authorities must deliver these, including:• Developing and maintaining these collaboratively with children, young people and parents; • Supporting children, young people and parents to participate fully; • Focusing on securing the best possible outcomes for the child/young person; • Enabling participation by relevant partner agencies, to enable joined-up provision.The SEND accountability framework established in 20152 sets out an approach for assessing SEND provision in conjunction with the Act and SEND Code of Practice. The framework provides structure for improving outcomes and experiences for children, young people and their families and, when applied, seeks to show how the system is performing, hold partners to account and support self-improvement. The framework applies at the local and national levels and to independent assessments of the EHC plan process – such as those carried out by Ofsted. In this context, the Department for Education commissioned a survey of parents and young people with an EHC plan, in order to build a representative national (and, where the data allows, local) picture of how parents and young people in England were experiencing the EHC needs assessment and planning process and the resultant EHC plans. The aim was to assess whether delivery of the EHC needs assessments and planning process and the resultant EHC plans reflected the intentions set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the accompanying SEND Code of Practice. The findings would help inform the SEND accountability framework.To achieve these aims the survey sought to answer the following questions: • To what extent do children, young people and families experience the EHC needs assessment and planning process as they are intended to be experienced; • How satisfied are children, young people and families with the EHC needs assessment and planning process and the resultant EHC plan; and • To what extent does this vary by local authority and by groups with different characteristics? The findings presented here and throughout the main report explore parents’ and young people’s responses to the survey questions. The report also explores where experiences of the EHC needs assessment and planning process varied for groups with different characteristics, applying a bivariate analysis approach3. The report only highlights such differences where these are statistically significant4.