We are trialling the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) making non-binding decisions on health and social care alongside education. The trial will launch on 03 April 2018 and run for two years.
Currently appeals can only be made to the Tribunal over the education aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, and the trial will give parents the ability to appeal associated health and social care issues via a single route.
The trial will extend the powers of the Tribunal to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care plans.
This new approach will enable the Tribunal to take a more holistic view of children and young people’s needs across education, health and social care in line with EHC plans and provide a person-centred approach to decision making. It should also provide positive benefits for families and improve joint working among commissioners.
An evaluation process will run alongside the Trial, looking at implementation, outcomes for families and commissioners and costs.
The Trial places responsibility on LA SEND teams to:
- Inform parents and young people of their new rights including through decision letters and the local offer
- Contact the relevant health or social care lead about the issues raised and provide evidence to the Tribunal on their response, bringing additional witnesses to the hearing if necessary
- Once a decision has been made, send the health or social care response to the evaluators.
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
- Attend the hearing if required
- Respond to any request for information, such as any assessments or support provided
- Following a decision, respond to the family and the LA within 5 weeks setting out the steps they have decided to take or why they are not going to follow the recommendation.
This will give families new rights and they are advised to:
- Be clear about whether there is a health or social care issue and what the issue is
- Receive support through Information, Advice and Support Services (IASS) and other organisations in preparation for and in attending a hearing
- Feedback to the evaluators after any hearing or outcome
Mott Macdonald have been commissioned to facilitate the national trial and provide support. The support package consists of 5 elements:
- Induction events – We are planning 12 regional events across England in January and February 2018 to engage and communicate with key education, health, and social care colleagues. Invitations have been sent to DCSs and NHS England to allocate to senior managers to attend and subsequently share the information and learning with their teams and networks. Parents will be represented by the National Network of Parent Carer Forums.
- Guidance for local areas – We will be producing guidance for LAs, health and social care professionals outlining their duties, how the trial will work and the support available.
- Guidance for parents and young people – We will also produce guidance for parents and young people, which can be used by support organisations too.
- Tool Kit – To help LAs implement the requirements we will be providing a tool kit with template wording and a FAQ document to answer all the common questions we receive.
- Ongoing support – We will be providing ongoing support through a helpdesk SENDDeliverySupport@mottmac.com and from the DfE SEN regional advisers team.
See the slide below for more information.