Young people taking decisions | Oxfordshire County Council

Young people taking decisions

Your rights about decision making and support to have your say.

Man staring at question marks

Young people have the right to make their own decisions from the age of 16, although parents and other family members can give support or act on their behalf with the young person’s agreement. Up until the age of 18 schools and colleges will usually still involve parents particularly where there are concerns about attendance, behaviour or welfare.

Specific rights about making decisions in relation to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans include:

  • request an assessment for an EHC plan (which they can do at any time up to their 25th birthday)
  • make representations about the content of their EHC plan
  • request that a particular institution is named in their EHC plan
  • request a personal budget for elements of an EHC plan
  • appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) about decisions concerning their EHC plan.

Help with expressing views

Some young people may need help to express their views. An advocate may be able to help.

Mental capacity

Some young people may not be able to make some decisions about their own lives. If they have a diagnosis such as learning disability, autism, brain injury or if they have a mental health need it might be necessary to complete an assessment of the young person’s ability to make a specific decision.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 applies to young people aged 16 or over. It sets out the key principles that underpin the care, treatment and support of people who are unable to manage their own affairs. The key principles of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act are:

  1. You must assume a person has capacity unless proved otherwise
  2. A person must be supported as much as possible to make a decision. If they cannot make a decision they should still be involved in decision making
  3. Making risky or 'unwise' decisions does not necessarily mean someone lacks capacity
  4. Anything done on behalf of someone who lacks capacity must be done in their best interests

Any judgement about a person’s ability to make decisions is made on a decision-by-decision basis. The Act makes sure people have the support to make as many decisions as possible.

More information can be found in an easy read guide to the Mental Capacity Act, together with the Oxfordshire Family Support Network’s guide to the Act for people with learning disabilities.

Last reviewed
22 January 2018
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