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DfE plans to digitise care plans for SEND children

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The Department for Education (DfE) is planning to digitise the process for education, health and care plans (EHCPs) for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

It has outlined the plan within the SEND Review green paper, published in late March and open for consultation until 22 July.

A section of the document says the DfE will create a new digital template for EHCPs – documents setting out the education, healthcare and social care needs of a child or young person with special needs – and a secure central location for parents, carers and professionals to upload key information.

This will take in 33 relevant information points along with content such as photos and videos to provide a holistic picture of the child.

Data governance controls

The review says appropriate controls will be put in place to ensure a plan cannot be changed without parent or carer input, and to provide an audit trail of previous decisions and amendments. It will all take account of the UK General Data Protection Regulation.

It adds that the document will allow for better data collection, support an analysis of trends and enable the DfE to review and update national standards in supporting SEND children.

In addition, the changes are intended to support children who move school in the middle of an academic year.

The plan prompted Labour MP Helen Hayes to raise a parliamentary question on what is being done to ensure the digitised EHCP process does not exclude people without easy access digital services.

Accommodate digitally excluded

In reply, Will Quince MP, parliamentary under secretary of state at the DfE, said it recognises that some parents and families may not have access to digital services and the DfE “will accommodate for these services”, although he did not provide any detail of how this would be achieved.

Other elements of the SEND Review include: a legal requirement for local authorities to introduce local inclusion plans; the development of local inclusion dashboards covering the roles and responsibilities of all partners; a national framework for councils for banding and tariffs of high needs; setting up an alternative provision system with nationally consistent standards for identifying and meeting needs; and updating the SEND Code of practice.

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