Young people who have Special Educational Needs (SEN) but do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) have the right to request an assessment of their SEN at any point before their 25th birthday (unless an assessment has been carried out in the previous six months).
Where a request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment is made, or the young person is brought to the attention of the local authority as being someone who may have SEN, the local authority must follow the guidance for carrying out EHC needs assessment. When making decisions about whether a Plan needs to be made for a 19- to 25-year-old, local authorities must consider whether the young person requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age who do not have SEN, to complete his or her education or training.
Where an EHCP is already in place for a young person aged 19 or over, it must continue to be reviewed at least annually. The EHCP must continue to contain outcomes which should enable the young person to complete their education and training successfully and so move on to the next stage of their lives. This includes employment or higher education and independent living. This will happen at different stages for individual young people and EHCPs extended beyond age 19 will not all need to remain in place until age 25.
In line with preparing young people for adulthood, a local authority must not cease an EHCP simply because a young person is aged 19 or over. Young people with EHCPs may need longer in education or training in order to achieve their outcomes and make an effective transition into adulthood. However, this position does not mean that there is an automatic entitlement to continued support at age 19 or an expectation that those with an EHCP should all remain in education until age 25.
A local authority may cease a plan for a 19- to 25-year-old if it decides that it is no longer necessary for the EHCP to be maintained. Such circumstances include where the young person no longer requires the special educational provision specified in their EHCP. In deciding that the special educational provision is no longer required, the local authority must have regard to whether the educational or training outcomes specified in the plan have been achieved.
The local authority should also consider whether remaining in education or training would enable the young person to progress and achieve those outcomes, and whether the young person wants to remain in education or training so they can complete or consolidate their learning. In both cases, this should include consideration of access to provision that will help them prepare for adulthood. Young people who no longer need to remain in formal education or training will not require special educational provision to be made for them through an EHCP.
Local authorities should ensure that young people are given clear information about what support they can receive, including information about continuing study in adult or higher education, and support for health and social care, when their plan ceases.
A local authority may continue to maintain an EHCP for a young person until the end of the academic year during which the young person turns 25.
An academic year is the period of twelve months which ends on the day that the young person’s course is scheduled to end, or on the day before the young person turns the age of 26, if earlier.
The decision to cease to maintain an EHCP may be challenged to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. If the local authority has made an error in fact (about whether it is still responsible for your young person) it is likely that the matter can be resolved by mediation. If the decision to cease to maintain the EHCP is made on the basis that the local authority considers that it is no longer necessary it is less likely that mediation will resolve the situation and an appeal to the Tribunal may be necessary.
This area can be complicated and it may be in your best interests to speak to a specialist solicitor.
If you would like to talk about your child’s special educational needs then please contact us at [email protected] or call 0800 884 0723 – our specialist SEN solicitors are here to help.