The Government has announced temporary changes to the law regarding Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans due to the Coronavirus outbreak. These changes are designed to give local authorities, health commissioning bodies, education settings and others the ability to respond flexibly to the demands created by the impact of Coronavirus.

What has changed?

Support for children who have an Education, Health and Care plan has changed in two key ways:

Firstly, the support outlined in an EHC plan may be different for a period of time. Local authorities and health providers will have to use "reasonable endeavours" to provide this support, but do not have to provide exactly what is included in child’s plan if it is not possible or safe. Instead a child and their family should be offered alternative support, for example, virtually, if face to face support is not possible. This legal change will be in force from 1 - 31 May 2020 and may be extended. 

Secondly, legal timescales for some of the EHC process will also be relaxed. This includes assessment requests, issuing plans and holding annual reviews. Instead, local authorities, health care professionals and others will be required to act as soon as they reasonably can. These changes will be in force from 1 May - 25 September 2020 and will be kept under review.

What remains the same?

Local authorities must still consider requests for a new EHC needs assessment and secure all of the required advice and information in order to be able to issue a plan.  The views and wishes of a child, the child’s parent or a young person must still be regarded in the planning process.

Click here to read the full guidance on changes to legislation.

Click here to read a letter explaining the changes from Vicky Ford, Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, and Helen Whately, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Care, to young people with SEND and their families.

Families needing advice about EHC plans or any aspect of their child's education, can call Contact's Freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555.