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What does my Education, Health and Care Plan say about my friendships?

How are EHC plans helping children to enjoy friendship?

The Children and Families Act 2014 (www.legislation.gov.uk) included important changes to the law for young people and children with special educational needs. Local councils must outline and publish their ‘local offer’ of service provision for children and families. Statements of educational need are being replaced with a new birth to 25 years education health and care plan

EHC plans are flexible, personalised and outcomes focussed, offering children and young people and their families the chance to highlight the importance of friendship in their reviews.

Case study

City of York Council is an example of one local authority that has proactively designed their EHC Plan with a strong friendship focus. Friendship prompts are in evidence throughout and the names of children’s friends are often included in the EHC Plan (first names only).

88% of all York children with EHC Plans mention friendship as a goal, and 62% have a need or outcome related to friendship (May 2015). Some of the EHC Plans include opportunities for parents and carers to become directly involved in supporting children to have friends for example by inviting their children’s friends to come to play or stay for tea.

York has invested short breaks funding in specialist youth clubs to address the friendship needs arising from EHC Plans, offering young people and children with special educational needs more places to see their friends.

‘When we talk to young people about their aspirations and what is important for them, they frequently say they would like good friends, or just a friend. Often we then write outcomes in the EHC Plan that supports them to develop skills to build and maintain friendships. Everyone working with the child or young person then understands how important this is and will prioritise the support for the young person. We are now planning for young people to have their short breaks with friends and for lunch time clubs at school to focus on developing skills such as turn taking and having fun together.’

– Jessica Haslam, Head of Disability and SEN City of York Council

‘EHC Plans provide a holistic approach we look at the whole child and their ability to be part of their education plan and part of life, it’s a continuum, preparing children for life their own community, to be independent, this includes friendship.’

– Lisa Abel Send Manager, City of York Council

Boosting confidence and skills

EHC Plan outcomes are increasingly focussed on improving young people’s confidence and skills in a most practical way, particularly the staged processes they might follow on that all important journey towards independence in readiness for adult life.

Such outcomes have included:

Jane will use social media safely to arrange to meet up with friends, starting to learn to text more than one word.

John will organise a trip to the cinema with a friend.
– Friendship example from an EHC plan

There is no reason why children should not invite their friend or friends to attend their reviews if that is what they want. They should be given the choice about who attends and what they want to talk about at their review.