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:
- requesting an assessment for an EHC plan (which they can do at any time up to their 25th birthday)
- making representations about the content of their EHC plan
- requesting that a particular institution is named in their EHC plan
- requesting a personal budget for elements of an EHC plan
- appealing 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 or someone to speak for you may be able to help.
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:
- You must assume a person has capacity unless proved otherwise
- 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
- Making risky or 'unwise' decisions does not necessarily mean someone lacks capacity
- 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.
Help and information
Search for organisations and groups on the Family Information Service website to support parents and carers of disabled children and young people and those with SEN and additional needs.
Special Needs and Disability - The Local Offer team is here to help you. Contact us.
Impartial free advice and support - education
The special educational needs and disability information advice and support service (SENDIASS) offers impartial information, advice and support to parents of children and young people with SEN and disabilities regarding their education. You can get in touch by completing this online form.
The service aims to help parents, carers, young people and educational professionals to work together to provide the best possible support to children and young people with special educational needs, by:
- offering advice and training
- providing Independent parental supporters and independent supporters
- linking with other organisations who can offer help and support.
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