Making an application

The Children and Families Act became law on September 1 2014, and changed the way things work for children and young people with special educational needs, learning difficulties or disabilities.

These changes are now fully operational.

Guide for applications

You can find out more about the new Act in the guide prepared by the DfE.

Special educational needs and disabilities guide for parents and carers

Education Health and Care Plans

A young person age 16-25 who wants to go to college will have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). These plans cover health and social care as well as education. Your Local Authority will prepare one following an EHCP needs assessment.

Special Needs Jungle have published a useful flow chart describing the process of conducting an EHCP needs assessment.

EHCP information

This is a useful link to IPSEA which has the latest information and guidance.

You can find out more about how a plan is produced and what it should cover here:

The Council for Disabled Children has produced a guide to help you get involved in your EHC Plan and examples of good practice:

You can request a place at a specialist college when this is the best place to meet a young person’s needs. This will be written in the Plan. If the specialist college is on the S41 Secretary of State’s approved list, then the LA must secure the place and the college must admit them. However, there are some conditions attached to these duties. The college should be suitable to meet their needs and it should be an ‘efficient use of resources’.

DfE guidance on requesting a place includes:

‘Parents and young people do not need to apply for and be rejected from a general FE college before requesting that a specialist post-16 institution be named on their EHC plan.  The parent’s/young person’s request carries particular statutory weight, so they should request the provider they would like.’ DfE

Getting the funding

For students with high needs (with support costs over £6,000), funding comes from two organisations:

  • the Education and Skills Funding Agency, which pays for place funding (sometimes called Elements 1 and 2)
  • the Local Authority, which pays the remaining support costs, sometimes called top-up funding or Element 3.

Each local authority will have its own approach to the funding process. For example, they will have their own forms and policies. They must include this in their Local Offer. The Local Offer should be on your local authority’s website.

The discussion about the funding is usually between the college and the local authority. However, you may get involved in some of the discussions about the details of the learning programme and the type of support that is needed.

The Tribunal

Parents and young people over 16 (until they reach 25) can appeal to the Tribunal about EHC assessments and EHC plans.

This flowchart from Special Needs Jungle explains how to appeal if you disagree with decisions.

This usually happens after contact with a mediation adviser.

Parents and young people can appeal to the Tribunal about:

  • a decision by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
  • a decision by a local authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
  • the description of a young person’s SEN in an EHC plan; the special educational provision specified; the institution specified in the plan, or that no institution is specified
  • an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • a decision by a local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by a local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan