Explore the topic of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)
What is an EHCP?
An EHCP, or, Education, Health and Care Plan, is a legally binding document outlining a child or teenager's special educational, health, and social care needs. Schools in England must provide support to children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) as part of their standard offer to children, this is called SEN support.
EHCP for children and young people
Where a child requires additional support that goes beyond what a nursery, school or college can typically deliver from their own budgets or staffing, then they may need an EHCP.
If you suspect your child required an EHCP, there is a wide variety of help and support available. This page will guide you through a range of information for supporting your child’s EHCP needs. We provide answers to common EHCP FAQs and pave the way to the additional internal and external EHCP resources available to you.
Frequently asked questions about EHCP
We've researched and collated a list of frequently asked questions about EHCP below. Alternatively, head to our EHCP resource library to expand your knowledge.
An EHCP should entitle your child to the right provision they need to support them with their special educational needs.
EHCPs are for those children (0-16) or young people (16-19), or adults (19-25) with SEN who require support beyond that which an educational setting can provide at SEN support. A child who has educational needs may also have additional health and social care needs, and those can be included in the plan so long as they relate to education. You cannot have a freestanding EHCP for health or social care reasons alone. EHCPs identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.
You can ask your Local Authority (LA) to carry out a Needs Assessment if you think your child needs an EHCP. A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.
A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.
If they decide to carry out an assessment, you may be asked for the following:
- Reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder
- Doctors’ assessments of your child
- A letter written by you about your child’s needs
The LA will tell you within 16 weeks whether an EHCP is going to be made for your child.
Your LA’s website should outline the process clearly and contain the relevant address. If this is not clear, the SENDCO at your child’s school will be able to help.
The EHCP needs process from start to finish should take no more than 20 weeks. A more detailed timeline can be found on your local.gov website.
By week 20, the LA will send you the final EHCP, and the support for your child is put in place. You will be asked for feedback about the EHCP process.
Below is an outline of the five stages of the EHCP process from start to finish.
Phase one: Request an EHCP Needs Assessment
If an area of need has been identified that requires additional support above that which can be provided by the early years setting, school or Post 16 institution in order for the young person to make progress, a written request for an EHC needs assessment should be sent to the local authority to begin this process.
The request can be made by:
- The parents
- The school or preschool setting
- An interested party
- A paediatrician
- A social worker
A written request must be sent to the LA to initiate this process. The LA then has 6 weeks from the date of the request to make a decision on whether to assess the child or not. Ideally, the LA will agree to make an assessment so that we can move on to the next step.
Phase two: LA decides on issuing an EHCP
After an assessment, the LA must decide whether to issue the EHCP or not.
There are two options at this point:
- The LA agrees to issue the EHCP, and they then have up to 12 weeks from the date of the EHC assessment agreement to issue the Draft EHCP and a further two weeks to issue the final plan making 20 weeks in total.
- The LA refuses to issue the EHCP they must inform you of this decision within 10 weeks of the date of the EHC assessment decision was made.
Phase three: The EHCP Assessment
The LA is required by law to gather evidence and views from a number of sources, including the child’s parents/carers and the young person themselves; the education provider; professional reports and assessments from health care professionals, educational psychologists, speech and language and occupational therapists; if relevant, information from social care.
Further advice or information can be requested from any person the local authority considers appropriate.
The child or young person’s parent/carer also has the right to ask that the local authority consult with anyone that they ‘reasonably request’. This could include privately funded therapists.
Phase four: Decision by the LA on whether to issue an EHC Plan
Once the LA has received and reviewed all the evidence from the EHCP needs assessment process, it must decide whether to issue a plan. If the LA decides not to issue an EHCP, this decision can be appealed at the SEND Tribunal (as above). The LA has to inform the parent/carer within 16 weeks of the assessment request.
Phase five: The EHCP
Parents will receive a draft EHCP, with 15 days to comment on and request revisions. The Draft EHCP will not name the school. The accompanying letter will normally identify the school the LA is suggesting they will name. Once any potential changes are made, or comments are resolved, the EHCP is finalised.
LAs frequently seek to extend this period by entering negotiations.
Within 15 days of the EHCP being issued, the SENCO will work with you to prepare a plan setting out short-term targets for the next 12 months.
As a parent or carer, you can request that a Needs Assessment is carried out for your child by your local authority if:
a) You feel that your child has or may have a special educational need.
b) That your child would need special support and provision made for this within an EHCP.
The physical delivery of an EHCP will differ from local authority to local authority, but there are some essential similarities and sections that we will define below:
- Section A: The views, interests and aspirations of the child and their parents, or the young person;
- Section B: The child or young person’s SEN (SEN)
- Section C: The health care needs which relate to their SEN
- Section D: The social care needs which relate to their SEN or a disability
- Section E: The outcomes sought for the child or young person
- Section F: The special educational provisions required to meet their SEN
- Section G: Any health care provisions reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN
- Section H: Social care provisions required by social services under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and/or reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN
- Section I: The name of the school or institution to be attended by the child or young person, and the type of institution
- Section J: Details of any direct payment which will be made
- Section K: Copies of all of the advice and information obtained as part of the EHC needs assessment.
This may seem like a lot to take in, but it’s necessary to explore each section.
Section A is more of an overview of the child and is not legally binding. It is for the benefit of the family and the child and creating transparent Outcomes for that phase of the education.
Section B is the section which must accurately describe each one of the SEN of your child, based on:
- Cognition and learning ability
- Communication and interaction skills
- Social, emotional and mental health.
- Sensory and physical disabilities
Section C is the section which looks at health care needs, which could include:
- Physical or mental health difficulties
- Eating issues
Section D looks at social care needs, such as being able to participate in extracurricular activities.
Section E combines all of the information provided and collected and delivers the outcomes based on the assessment. This section details the educational aims that your child should be able to accomplish with the extra provisions. This could be based on educational success or the ability to take part.
Section F details your child’s support (provision) at school. This provision must be specific, detailed, and quantified. For example:
“Zara will receive 32.5 hours per week of individual TA support from a TA with at least 20 hours training from the LA complex needs team, on her condition. In the event that the nominated TA changes, any new TA will receive the same training within 6 weeks or before starting work with Zara. The TA will work under the direction of the class teacher who will design and supervise a scheme of work following the advice from the advisory teacher who will visit Zara on a half termly basis for at least 2 hours during which she will review Zara’s progress, advise on the revised teaching plan, train the plan and record her findings”.
“Billie will receive 1 hour a week of direct speech and language therapy from an HPC registered speech and language therapist. Billie’s TA will be in attendance. In addition, the therapist shall design a support program that she will then train classroom staff to deliver. She will monitor the program’s outcomes every half term and then amend and train staff on the new program. The therapist shall prepare a report for the Annual review and attend same, an additional 4 hours will be allocated for this.”
It is the responsibility of the LA to ensure that the provision named in the EHCP takes place. It is not the responsibility of the school. If you get embroiled in a dispute between the school and LA, you should consider calling us.
You can enforce the EHCP/ provision through judicial review.
Section G looks specifically at the healthcare provision requirements, like equipment or medication. Your child may require monitoring software or a specialist wheelchair, for example.
Section H will define the social care provision for the individual, such as pre-arranged short breaks, extra-curricular or out of school activities, as well as home support for the family.
Section I, names the school, college, or educational facility that your child attends. During the draft stage, this should be left blank. The final EHCP will name the school. so that you can later choose which school for your child to attend if a change is required. A school or educational facility must admit the student if they are named here.
Section J contains information about the direct payments that will be made to get your child the support that they need.
Copies of all tests, assessments, advice, and reports, including parental reports, will be gathered up and contained within Section K.
The local authority should look at a range of evidence, including current academic attainment, milestones, rates of progress and the way in which your child’s SEN presents in an educational setting.
Every child is unique and how your child’s autism or dyslexia, for example, impacts upon their learning will not be the same as another child with that same condition. Also, evidence of what action the school has taken previously and whether or not this has been effective and what the outcomes were from those actions.
The LA will want to gain a full picture of your child, including any physical or health needs and the emotional and social development of your child. This might be done by consulting with professionals from outside the school, for example, clinicians or other health professionals.
The EHCP will be reviewed annually by the school or education setting, or an early review can be requested if there is change in circumstance or the family feels that the plan is not having the desired effect.
When an early years setting or school or post 16 provider makes a request for statutory assessment, the local authority will ask for evidence from the school that a graduated response of any strategies, support or alternatives put in place for the child/young person has been continued for a reasonable period of time (the time can vary depending on which local authority) without success.
The setting or school should be able to provide written evidence of the different perceptions of those involved with the child/young person, any immediate educational concerns and an overall picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
In your setting, this could be:
• Teaching/Early Years Assistant
• Learning support
• School Nurse/Health Visitor
• School/Early Years SENDCo
The school's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) is responsible for making sure that the steps taken to meet the needs of individual children are recorded and that these records are properly kept and available as evidence to include in an EHCP.
The LA will also require evidence of input and support, including details of the involvement of external professionals.
External professionals could include:
• Educational Psychologist
• Learning Support
• Health Visitor/Health Care Professionals
Your LA might decide that your child does not need an EHCP. They usually decline EHCPs when they think SEN support in school is enough to meet your child's needs. The LA has 16 weeks to say if they are not giving your child an EHCP.
Reasons can vary, of which the most common are:
- A lack of diagnosis on the SEN of the individual
- No report from an educational psychologist
- The child is not deemed to be far enough behind their fellow students
- The LA enforce their policy provision matrix – e.g. attainment not below the 2nd percentile and therefore not bad enough for an EHCP. Such a blanket policy is likely to be illegal.
Once in tribunal, these arguments tend to fall apart as they are based on LA policy rather than the letter of the law. This means that, based on that case, there is no legal basis to deny an EHCP. The tribunal will decide the facts of the case including looking at the child’s individual needs and decide based on the law. The tribunal ignores LA policy.
No, you can request a Needs Assessment at any time.
No, only if your child has a special educational need or a disability which calls for special educational provision.
The SEND Code of Practice 2014 says you have at least 15 calendar days to respond. You can take longer if you need to. Use this time to:
- Say if you disagree
- Ask for a meeting with the LA to talk about the plan
- Tell the LA if you would like either a mainstream or specialist school in the EHCP
Yes, there is, an EHCP will last until they are 25. Your child's views and aspirations will be an integral part of the Plan and will support them to make plans in preparation for adulthood.
We have recently refreshed the Advice and Support area of our website, a hub of knowledge we are very proud of. This section can now be filtered by our five specialist SEN areas of expertise:
From events and webinars to articles, e-books and case studies, Here you can find a wide variety of resources providing parents, carers and professionals with advice, support and guidance.
External EHCP Resources
The following is a list of websites and organisations that can help you. While we have done our best to list the most up to date and relevant information on mental health, please be advised that all the sources are constantly changing and new information will be added regularly.
Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) | Gov.uk
Does my child qualify for an EHCP? | Action for Children
Applying for an EHCP | Scope