Capturing the Voices of Children in the Education Health and Care Plans

Olympia Palikara, Susana Castro, Carolina Gaona and Vasiliki Eirinaki
School of Education, University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom


Capturing the voices of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has increasingly been recognized as a key element of relevant policy initiatives internationally (United Nations, 2006; Porter, 2014).

In England, there is increased emphasis on participation of children and young people in the decision-making process through the new SEND Code of Practice, which was introduced following the enactment of the Children and Families Act (CFA) 2014 (Department for Education and Department of Health, 2015).

These reforms have been described as the most Palikara et al. The Voices of Children With SEND substantial ones in the UK over the last two decades (Department for Education, 2014; Norwich and Eaton, 2015; Curran et al., 2017). The CFA introduced the Education, Health and Care plans (EHC plans) to replace previous statements of Special Educational Needs.

The EHC plan is a single document that should describe the children’s strengths and needs, in a multidisciplinary and holistic way and portraying the child’s own perspective. Although capturing the views of children is a key element of the new SEND policy, there is limited systematic evidence to date on how the voices of the children are depicted in the EHC plans and on the methods used to ascertain their voices.

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study which aims to address this gap by systematically analyzing the EHC plans of children attending mainstream and special schools in order to examine how their voices are being captured.

View the full report here.

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