Last Monday, we learned of the unfortunate news that the change in the law for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) in England has been extended by the Department for Education (DfE) until end of 31st July 2020.

The changes mean that education and health support set out for a child with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) in an EHCP may be different for an extended period of time. Local authorities and health providers will have to use “reasonable endeavours” to secure this support. This means that they do not have to do exactly what is detailed in the EHC plan if this is not possible during the Covid-19 outbreak. However they should try other ways of providing the support. For example, your child may be offered help virtually over the phone or online rather than face to face.

Today, the DfE announced that, unless the evidence changes, they won’t be extending the temporary change in the EHCP law beyond 31st July 2020:

Since May, as a result of the pandemic, it has been necessary to modify Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 so that local authorities and health commissioners must use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure or arrange the specified special educational/ health care provision in EHC plans. We are committed to removing these flexibilities as soon as possible so that children and young people can receive the support they need to return to school. As such, unless the evidence changes, we will not be issuing further national notices to modify the EHC duties, but will consider whether any such flexibilities may be required locally to respond to outbreaks.

We will also continue to monitor the need for the temporary changes to the law on EHC needs assessments and plans that give local authorities and others who contribute to the relevant processes more flexibility in responding to the demands placed on them by coronavirus (COVID-19). These changes are currently in force until 25 September.

If you have any questions about what the changes mean to you, please read these guidelines that Information, Advice and Support Manchester (IASM) produced for the benefit of parents and carers:

Or contact IASM’s helpline between 8:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, at 0161 209 8356.

You can also read information in the form of FAQs at IPSEA’s website, which contains answers to the following questions:

  • If my child has an EHC plan, doesn’t the LA have a legal duty to deliver that provision?
  • Do the LA still need to carry out EHC needs assessments?
  • Will annual reviews still need to be carried out?