4 May 2020

From 1 May the Government introduced temporary amendments to the legal duties and timescales for Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and plans for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during the coronavirus outbreak. The changes apply in England only.

There are two main changes:

  1. The duty on local authorities or health commissioning bodies to secure or arrange the special educational provision and health care provision set out in an EHC plan is temporarily modified to a duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so.
  2. The regulations that specify timescales that apply to local authorities, health commissioning bodies and others for various processes relating to EHC needs assessments and plans have been relaxed, so that where it is not reasonably practicable or is impractical to meet that time limit, for a reason relating to coronavirus, the specific time limit will not apply.

The Government has issued guidance to accompany these changes, which emphasises the importance of co-production with children, young people and families to identify appropriate ways forwards and effective and timely communication with families about decisions.