8th May 2020 – COVid 19 Update inc EHC plans

Here is information on several topics for parents on our network.  Please feel free to share these with other Hertfordshire parents that you are in touch with.

  1. EHC Plans and assessments – temporary changes to the law.

Last week the government announced key temporary changes to the law around Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs). These legal changes will be in force from 1 – 31 May 2020, but may be extended. These do mean a temporary relaxation of some of the legal rights around EHC plans due to Covid 19.

What has changed?

  1. Local authorities (ie Herts County Council) and health service providers must now use reasonable endeavours to secure the provision set out in a child or young person’s EHCP.  This means that where a nursery, school or college or a health provider cannot fulfil the provision in an EHCP they must seek to support their needs in a different way for example virtually rather than face to face.
  2. The usual timescales for various EHC processes have been temporarily amended from 1st May to 25th September 2020.

This means that the usual 20 week time scale can be extended where it isn’t possible to complete an action within the usual statutory timescale due to Covid 19.
You can read the full DfE guidance on temporary changes to education, health and care legislation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Download the Dept for Education presentation (as a pdf) on the temporary legislation here:-  EHC plans – Guidance on temporary legislative changes16402

What is still the same?

Hertfordshire County Council must still:

  • Consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment
  • Secure all of the required advice and information in order to be able to issue an ECHP
  • Have regard to the views and wishes of a child, the child’s parent or the young person
  • Consult settings for placement and continue to name settings with EHCPs within the agreed statutory timescales.

You can find out more information on  Hertfordshire’s approach on the SEND Local Offer Coronavirus page SEND Local Offer
Other sources of information are:
HPCI website: HPCI on the Covid 19 pages you will be able to find this update and also find the DfE slides from the briefing they gave to local areas about these temporary changes.
IPSEA  IPSEA school closures and SEN provision
Barrister Steve Broach – who has spoken at several HPCI events has an online webinar:
39EssexChambers entitlements for CYP with SEND and Covid 19

 Other EHC related developments – HPCI has been raising concerns about the backlog of EHC Annual Reviews which HCC has been working on and have made good progress on reducing the backlog.
We are also continuing to work with HCC on improving the EHC process letters that are sent out to parents to make them easier to read and understand along with looking at how the process could be improved and contributing to a project on improving the IT around EHC plans.

Getting help if you are struggling

The longer that education settings remain closed then the more strain families will find themselves in juggling home schooling, working, meeting their child’s needs and many other things.  DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT.

  1. Approach the nursery/school/college – Children with SEND with EHC plans and young carers (ie siblings) are those that are considered to be vulnerable so if you are struggling to cope at home then you should approach your child’s early years setting/school/college in the first instance. If the child has an EHCP then ask if they can re-do their risk assessment with input from you.  If you are concerned about your other children ie siblings who, for example, may be dealing with increased levels of challenging behaviour from their brother or sister then you could approach their school for a risk assessment again involving you.  The government has re-issued guidance to education settings which you can read here – Revised guidance
  1. SEND helpline – If the education setting is still not able to accept your child then contact the HCC advice line about this or related SEND issues.  You will be able to speak to a member of the SEND team, advisory teacher or educational psychologist. Phone: 01992 588 574 – open Monday to Friday 10am to 4.30pm.
  1. Herts Help – Is coordinating support for all vulnerable people in the county who are struggling to get medication and food during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes families who are struggling because of the needs of their children – whether that be due to shielding a family member with underlying health needs, or due to a child’s unpredictable behaviour in public making it hard to ensure social distancing. They may also able to assist with transport to medical appointments where you don’t have access to a car. Contact Herts Help on 0300 123 4044 or email info@hertshelp.net to discuss whether support can be made available.


Don’t forget our HPCI survey about how you are dealing with home schooling and other support matters.
Over 130 people have completed it so far but we would like 500 responses if possible.  You can find it here:
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HPCIcovid  open until 25th May.