In this Edition— Elective Home Education, Open Arms, Appealing after an EHCP Review, Timelines and Mediation certificates, staff updates.
Elective Home Education
Deciding to home educate a child is a big decision to make and not one to be taken lightly. Education is compulsory, not school attendance, as a parent you are entitled to educate your child at home if you choose. If you decide to educate your child at home, it becomes ‘Elective Home Education’ (EHE). The education you provide must be ‘suitable’ and take in to account their age, ability and special educational needs, you do not need to be a qualified teacher to home educate and you don’t need to work to a specific timetable or hours.
Although Local Authorities have no powers to enter your home they do have a duty to ensure that a suitable education is being provided. If the Local Authority does not believe that your child is receiving a suitable education they can enforce school attendance through an order, if you fail to comply with a ‘School Attendance Order’ you can be prosecuted.
When removing your child from school roll and making the decision to home educate you will need to write a letter to the head teacher giving them notice of your decision. If you choose to electively home educate the Local Authority have no duty to provide any financial support for example, costs for external examinations, equipment, trips etc.
EHE for children with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
If your child has an EHCP and attends a special school the Local Authority must give permission for the child’s name to be removed from the admissions register, if you feel you want to do this please discuss it with your EHCP coordinator. If they have an EHCP but attend a mainstream school, then you will need to write a letter to the head teacher giving them notice of your decision. If you choose to electively home educate, you will need to provide the provision within section F of the EHCP, the Local Authority do not have a duty to do this.
If the Local Authority believes that the education being provided isn’t suitable then they will amend the plan to name a school or college and the child will have to attend the provision named. You will have the right of appeal to challenge this decision once you have received the final amended plan. The Local Authority still has a duty to maintain an EHCP and carry out a review annually, the EHCP cannot be ceased because you choose to home educate.
If the Local Authority agree that home education is the only suitable provision for the child, the plan must clearly show in section F what needs to be provided. The local authority will then have to arrange the special educational provision set out in the plan for example named therapies.
Non-Elective Home Education or ‘Off-rolling’ –
Off-rolling is the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll illegally, without it being a permanent exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll to ‘home educate’. This is generally because the removal is in the interests of the school rather than in the best interests of the pupil.
You may feel pushed or be encouraged to home educate your child if the school are saying they can no longer meet their special educational needs, they may also be threatening your child with permanent exclusion if you do not remove them from the school roll.
If you do not feel that you would be able to home educate, then you do not have to off-roll your child from the school they are attending. All schools have a duty to provide appropriate support to pupils that have special educational needs, this is to break down barriers to learning and help them access a suitable, full time, education.
School should be meeting with you at least once a term to discuss any concerns they have regarding your child’s progress or special educational needs. It should be at these meetings that the school talk about next steps to help the child, for example, seeking outside professional advice or applying for an EHCP.
Norfolk SEND Partnership Updates
Staff updates -
Janina Schiebler - SENDIASS Manager
After 15 years I have decided now is the time to retire from the authority and spend more time with my elderly parents and five grandchildren. I started at Parent Partnership as a support worker training and mentoring the volunteers, I have many funny stories to recount over the years and enjoyed my time out and about in Norfolk’s schools and meeting parents.
Moving on to be the manager of the service has enabled me to work with some more great people and I shall miss my colleagues and supporting others to make a difference to our children and young people in Norfolk with SEN. I wish you all well and know the team here will continue to strive to do their best for you all.
I will be having a ‘farewell’ afternoon on the 19th July, if you would like to say goodbye please contact the office for more information.
Bridget Robinson, Children and Young People SENDIASS Supporter
I am delighted to have been appointed as a Children & Young People SENDIASS Supporter (3 days a week), which is a new role within the Norfolk SEND Partnership Team (Norfolk SENDIASS).
I have spent the last year with the service, working on the telephone help-line. I have successfully completed Levels 1, 2 and 3 IPSEA SEN Advisors Legal Training (IASSN), and I have gained valuable experience in providing impartial Information, advice and support to parents and carers. Previously I have worked as both a Youth Worker and teacher; and I hope this experience will prove useful in this role!
The purpose of this new role, which has been funded by the Department for Education through the Council for Disabled children, is to support children and young people to play an active and informed role in their lives. I have a wide remit, and I aim to give children and young people the same level of information, advice and support as their parents and carers. If you are a child or young person, and would like some help or advice around issues which relate to your Special Educational needs and/or disabilities, within education, please contact me at the Norfolk SEND Partnership!
Open Arms Support Services Ltd (OASS) are an occupational therapy consultancy who have been commissioned by Norfolk County Council to complete occupational therapy assessments to children across Norfolk.
Occupational therapy in education aims to improve engagement in learning by focusing on behaviour management, motor skills, mental health, sensory processing and environmental adaptions, which is why we complete a full holistic assessment which looks at all areas of function.
All our assessments are completed by qualified occupational therapists who follow the Code of Ethics detailed by the governing Body and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).
Once we receive a referral our Business Coordinator will contact the school to arrange an appropriate date for assessment, this will then be confirmed in writing to both school and parents/carers prior to the assessment taking place. Shortly before the assessment date our Business Coordinator will contact you again to request completion of a functional questionnaire, this document allows you to specify how your child functions outside of the educational environment, and dependent on the information received on the referral you may also be required to complete additional standardised assessments. The reason we ask for these to be completed in advanced is so that the occupational therapist has all information to hand prior to meeting with your child.
On the assessment day the therapist will complete an observation of your child in their educational environment, an education staff member consultation and a child consultation will also take place and you as parents/carers will also be given the opportunity to complete a parental consultation by phone on the day.
Once the therapist has gathered all the information from the assessment, they will write a report of their findings, within this report they will also list their recommendations The report will be sent over to Norfolk County Council to process and send out to school and parents/carers within approximately three weeks of the assessment date.
OASS work in conjunction with other professional disciplines within Norfolk County Council including educational psychologists and occupational therapists with whom we meet regularly.
Written by Maria Cook, Open
Appealing after a review of an EHC Plan
As we said in the last edition of our newsletter, within 4 weeks of the review meeting the LA must decide whether it proposes to, keep the plan as it is, amend it or cease it. They must let the school or institution; parent or young person know what they have decided. If they are to amend it, they should start this ‘without delay’ but there is no set timescale.
Keeping the plan as it is or ceasing the Plan gives a right to the parent or young person to appeal to the SENDIS Tribunal, not the school. Details will be included in the decision letter.
Time limits to appeal
Mediation must be considered with a discussion with Kids, the mediation service for Norfolk, if B, the educational needs or/and F, the educational provision is to be appealed. Once you have had this discussion with Kids you can decide if you want to go ahead with mediation or just go straight to tribunal. You will be issued with a mediation certificate either when you decide not to have mediation or after the mediation meeting if you decide to have mediation.
You have either 2 months from the date of the decision letter OR 1 month from the date of the mediation certificate to lodge your appeal.
If you are only appealing section I, an educational placement, you do not need a certificate. We would usually suggest appealing B, F and I because the Needs, B and Provision, F should show what type of educational provision would be appropriate. For further information contact us.
Time limits and Mediation
If you ask for mediation and it cannot be arranged within 30 days Kids Mediation Service will issue you with a mediation certificate before your mediation takes place.
Please be aware you will have one month from the date on this certificate to appeal to SENDIST, you cannot be issued with a second certificate, you need to appeal before this deadline. If you settle with the LA at mediation you can then withdraw your appeal.