One of the major changes introduced by The Children and Families Act 2014 was the extension of the age range. It is now possible for a young person, if required, to have an 'EHC plan' until they are 25 years old.
This includes the right of a young person with special educational needs, right up to 25, to have the right to request an EHC assessment as the first step towards obtaining an EHC plan. In the past it was common practice for young persons who had statements (statements have now been replaced by EHC plans) to transfer to FE colleges and for their statement to cease. Now, for young persons can still be covered by an EHC plan, if this is still needed, when they transfer to an FE college (or other post 16 institution) and for the college to be named as the appropriate placement under Section I. For some young people, they may be applying for the first time due to the differences in how education is delivered in colleges.
The determining issue regarding whether a young person still needs an EHC plan will be how far they have met the Outcomes in Section E of their EHC plan and whether or not they need additional time to complete their education.
A young person with an EHC plan can retain their EHC plan while on an Apprenticeship, a Traineeship or Supported Internship. However, at present, EHC plans are not available to young persons who are planning to move into, or are already in, Higher Education. For students with all kinds of disabilities transferring to High Education (this can include Dyslexia), additional support or equipment may be funded (after assessment) through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). For more information about DSA, see here.
16 - 18
Parents need to be aware that once their child reaches the end of compulsory schooling (the end of the academic year in which they become 16), they become known as a 'young persons' and the power to make decisions about their education (including the right of appeal) passes to the young person unless it is agreed that the young person does not have the Mental Capacity to be able to make such decisions.
In cases where it is agreed the young person does have the capacity to make their own decisions, there is nothing to stop the young person appointing their parent as their representative for the appeal, but the Tribunal will still expect to see evidence that the young person has been involved in making decisions.
Some young persons will wish to transfer to their local FE college whereas others may feel they would prefer to attend a specialist residential college as they may wish to gain qualifications not available locally, or want to gain independent living skills.
See Common Problem 1
18 - 25
Some young persons will want to remain at school until they reach 18/19 (if there is an appropriate course). In this case, the young person may wish to transfer to their local FE college later, providing there is a suitable course. However, the young person may opt for a residential college as above.
It is vital, if Adult Social Care has not already undertaken an assessment under The Care Act 2014, for this to be undertaken. Parents need to be aware that while some parents would wish their young persons to continue to live at home, this cannot be taken for granted by Adult Social Care. Parental responsibility ends when the young person becomes 18.
Disability Rights UK provide a range of information, including a helpful guide to the assessment process under The Care Act 2014, information about Carer's assessments as well as a range of information about welfare benefits. They also produce a very useful Handbook, which is revised every year, covering a wide range of relevant issues.
The government has produced some guidance for young persons 19 - 25 with EHC plans. However, it is just guidance and we prefer to rely on the law, including recent decisions made by the Upper Tribunal which confirm that a young person in this age group does not, for example, have to be capable of achieving qualifications in order to retain or be issued with an EHC plan.
See 'Common Problem 2'
The Children and Families Act 2014
The Care Act 2014
SEND Code of Practice (2015)
Chapter 7: Further education
This chapter sets out how FE colleges, six form colleges, and some independent specialist colleges approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2011 should meet the needs of young people with special educational needs.
Chapter 8: Preparing for adulthood
This chapter explains how all agencies involved with the young person (Education, Health and Social Care) should work together to help the young person to prepare for adult life.